Modern classic Mazda MX5

Modern classic Mazda MX5

The Mk1 MX-5 ship has well and truly sailed now, so what about its modern classicsuccessors?


THE MARKET: Mk2 & Mk3 MX-5

Missed out on the Mk1? Then here’s your second chance to pick up a bargain fun-to-drive roadster

Mk2 (1998-2005)

If you can make do without the iconic pop-up headlights, the second-generation MX-5 makes for an interesting prospect. Tipping the scales at just over 1000kg, it remained true to the original’s lightweight, rear-wheel drive roots, yet added an array of key evolutions. The peppy 1.8 litre engine that you got in the Mk1 was kept on, however an increased compression ratio and reworked intake system meant that horsepower was upped to 140bhp, about thirty more than the lower-end 1.6 litre variant.

Modern classic Mazda MX5

The biggest changes came in 2001 however, when the MX-5 underwent a facelift. In addition to some aggressive ridges being added to the styling, the engine was bolstered with variable valve timing, and major updates were made to the platform underpinning it all. A stiffer chassis gave the car significantly more torsional rigidity, while top of the range models also gained a six-speed manual gearbox, bigger brakes all-round, and upgraded Bilstein suspension. An attempt was made to enhance the little Mazda’s ergonomics too. The centre console was redesigned, plus to aid rear visibility, a rear window defogger was added for when the roof was up. When the roof was down, wind buffeting was now also reduced thanks to a retractable deflector. Overall, you could easily argue that the Mk2 is in fact a better car than its predecessor, and yet, it doesn’t receive anywhere near the same amount of attention.

Although perhaps a little harsh on what is ultimately a very good package, the Mk2’s relative lack of popularity will work in your favour if you’re looking to buy one. Today, it’s still an attainable car, though not quite to the same extent that it once was. As a general rule, 1.8 litre cars will typically fetch a marginally higher price than their 1.6 litre equivalents; more in ‘Sport’ trim.

Tidy vehicles with relatively low mileage currently sell for anywhere between £3500-£6000, but it’s still possible to find good Mk2 MX-5s for less than the £3000 mark, however you’ll need to put effort into finding them. While still relatively cheap, it does appear as though the Mk2 is experiencing an upward trend in value. As recently as 2020, acceptable cars could be had for £1200-£2000, but these days similar deals are becoming harder to find.

Mk3 (2005-2015)

The Mk3 is where the MX-5’s reputation began to wane somewhat. On paper, the recipe remained an enticing one.

The engine range was once again upgraded, now featuring a 170bhp 2.0 litre block as the main attraction, with a new 126bhp 1.8 litre engine playing second fiddle. Traction and stability control was also introduced, but the third-gen MX-5 was 200kg heavier than the original, and even more so if equipped with the automatic hard-top. It was significantly wider too.

Whereas the Mk2 is heading back up the price ladder, the Mk3 has yet to reach its base value. After all, by our standards, it’s still a relatively new car.

You can expect even the most ropey early examples to start at around £2000- £2500, but it’ll take about £4500 to get yourself a tidy one. At that price point you could be looking at either a 1.8 or 2.0 litre car, while closer to £6000 will get you into a Sport model. Depending on age and mileage, values can still reach as high as £15,000 though. The earliest ones can be viewed as affordable modern classics, but the youngest cars are still nearly new.

Overall, the future value of this car is a hard thing to predict, but we believe that there’s still a little margin of depreciation yet to kick in.

Mk2 values are gradually inching up.

The Mk3 spans a wide range of values

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