2021 Mazda MX-5 Review

written by Cartopia |

2021 Mazda MX-5 Review

The 2021 Mazda MX-5 or Miata is a sporty convertible that’s worthy of an enthusiast's desktop background. It’s departed from the previous generation MX-5 which looked like something you would take out on a coastal road trip.

The 2021 model looks more like a car that’s ready to hit the track. Mazda has made some subtle yet noticeable changes to the 2021 MX-5, which made an already impressive road car even better. 

Let’s dig into a full-blown review of this exciting new car from Mazda.

Exterior

The 2021 MX-5 is definitely more aggressive-looking than the previous models. Even though it’s a small 2-seater convertible, it has a long curved hood which gives it that aggressive sports car look. Both the grille and the headlights are much wider on the 2021 model, contributing to that aggressive look. From the front, it looks a bit like the Porsche 911 (minus the round headlights), but that classic Mazda sports vibe is very much there. 

The MX-5 comes with 17-inch BBS alloy wheels. BBS wheels are popular for being used in super high-performance race cars, and Mazda has been using them on the MX series since 2017.

The MX-5 exterior always had a diverse colour palette to choose from, but this year it’s on another level. You get 6 different colour choices as usual, but our favourite is the ‘Jet Black Mica’ and the ‘Should Red Crystal’.

With the 2021 MX-5, you get 127 litres of cargo space in the boot. It’s not very practical, but convertible sports cars aren’t meant to be. It can still easily fit two people’s weekend travel bags, or those everyday shopping and grocery bags. 

As usual, you also get a soft top and a hardtop option with the new MX-5. The soft top has a flat back so that you can manually retract or attach the roof, while the hardtop has an automated roof with a humpback design. Which retractable roof option to go for? It’s really down to your personal preference, but the hardtop does make the exterior look more sporty and the soft top gives you a more travel/road-trip vibe.

Interior

The 2021 Mazda MX-5 has a very simple yet elegant interior. Being a 2-seater car there’s not a lot of cabin space, but it’s still fairly comfortable and compact. It’s more spacious than the previous models. 

On the base model, you get a black cloth interior, but you can choose leather on the higher-end GT and GT RS models. You can actually choose between 6 different colour combinations for the interior. In our opinion, the “Burgundy Nappa Leather” offers a stunning colour combination of dark red leather interior and seats with a black dashboard. It really livens up with the interior of the MX-5 and gives it a very luxurious and posh vibe.  

There’s a big centre console inside the cabin which allows the driver to have enough free space on both sides. However, the MX-5 is best suited for anyone who’s 6.2’’ and under. People below this height will have comfortable legroom and headroom with the roof on. If you’re any taller, then the MX-5 might not be the most comfortable option for you. 

You get a small 7-inch touchscreen display at the centre. There’s little to no buttons for the infotainment system. It’s not the most accessible or practical display, but it does maintain that modern minimalistic look inside the cabin. 

Related: Australia's Top 7 Small Cars

Performance

The 2021 Mazda MX-5 is all about high-performance. It looks, feels, and drives like a proper sports car. 

In Australia, the MX-5 has 6 different variants, 3 from the soft-top models and 3 from the RF (hard-top) models. The entry-level soft-top model is the Roadster, which comes with a 1.5L 4-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine. It has a fuel economy of 6.2 l/100km and 97KW power

The higher-end Roadster GT and GT RS model comes with a more powerful 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, with 135KW of power and a better fuel economy of 6.8 l/100km

The RF models don’t have a 1.5L engine option. They all come with a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, with 135KW of power, and 6.9 l/100km fuel consumption. On all variants, you can choose from a 6-speed manual or auto gearbox. 

Other key performance additions for the 2021 model include Brembo front brakes that measure 280mm with ventilated discs and four-piston callipers. It gives you better control under high-load braking conditions. The new MX-5 is also 200kg lighter than last year's model, with the 2021 model weighing in at 1035kg and the 2020 model weighing 1245kg. 

On paper, it might not seem like the MX-5 is a high-performance car. It’s V4 engine is not outputting a crazy amount of horsepower  but the MX-5 flies and that’s because of it’s extremely lightweight body, rear-wheel-drive, highly durable Bilstein Shock suspensions, and ground clenching BBS wheels. The high-end GT and GT RS models can go from 0-60 in 5.7 seconds. That’s significantly better performance   than you’d expect from a standard 2.0L engine

Tech

The 2021 Mx-5 is a performance-focused convertible built for speed and a thrilling driving experience. Tech was not a priority in the MX-5. You get a 7-inch touchscreen display with built-in navigation. It supports both the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The infotainment system also has Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio capability. On the higher-end GT and GT RS models, you also get the Advanced Keyless Entry feature. Basically, if you have the key on you, the MX-5 can sense your approach and will automatically unlock the door.

Safety

In terms of safety, the 2021 MX-5 has a 5-star safety rating from ANCAP. There’s blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, and a smart brake support system.

Most of the smart brake systems in modern cars work within 60km/h speed. However, the 2021 MX-5 will monitor pedestrians and vehicles and automatically break at forward speeds between 4-80 km/h and reverse speeds between 2-8 km/h. It also has adaptive LED headlamps. The LEDs are automatically adjusted depending on the light, speed, and traffic conditions of the road. 

Price (AUD) 

For the soft-top models, the entry-level Mazda MX-5 Roadster starts at $40,015. The GT model will cost you $48,205, and the GT RS is $51,355.

For the hard-top models, the entry-level RF costs $45,994. The RF GT will cost you  $53,000, and the RF GT RS is $55,635. There’s also an additional variant in the middle called the GT Black roof. It's only difference from the standard RF GT is the added premium leather interior, and it costs $54,080.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Pros

  • High-performance engine and gearbox. 
  • A sublime exterior. 
  • Great composure at any speed. 
  • Loaded with the latest safety features. 

Cons

  • Uninspiring tech features. 
  • Average looking interior on the base models. 

Overall Verdict

The 2021 Mazda MX-5 is an amazing choice if you’re in the market for a convertible that looks and drives like a high-performance race-track champion. Although the MX-5 is built more like a sports car, it still doesn’t fail to give you a consistent everyday driving experience. 

Overall, the premium outlook, the high-performance engine, and the advanced safety features make the 2021 Mazda MX-5 a stand out choice in the small convertibles segment. 

Other Options to Consider 

BMW 2 Series 

If you’re looking to buy a convertible, but not ready to compromise on the cabin space, then the BMW 2 series will be a good alternative for you. It’s still a 2-seater coupe car, but the interior and boot space is much larger than the MX-5. It also has the same 2.0L 135KW engine, but the tech specs are much superior. 

Audi RS5 

If you want that ultra-performance experience and aren’t worried about splashing out around $150,000, then the Audi RS5 is the ultimate option for you. It has a 2.9L Quattro Tiptronic engine with 339KW of power that can go from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds. It’s also a 4-seater convertible, so space won’t be a problem.

Abarth 124 Spider 

The Abarth 124 is almost like a slightly more fuel-efficient twin of the MX-5. It's actually a high-performance sports version of the Fiat 124, manufactured by Mazda. It has a 1.4L engine with 122KW of power, and a fuel economy of 6.2L/100 KM. The Abarth also looks much closer to a professional racing car than the MX-5, with a slightly larger cabin. 

Find a used Mazda MX-5 on Cartopia or get a no-obligation finance quote through Credit One.