Advice re the Mk4

My wife and I have owned a 98 1.8 Mk2 for several years and had a lot of fun and good service from it. But we would like a newer preloved/second hand MX5 now, most likely the Mk4.

We have a budget of around £15K. I’m aware there are two main engine sizes 1.5l and 2l, plus a hard and soft top, but not a lot else at this point.

I will be doing research and reading reviews in the days ahead, but I thought the best place to start is here.

Right now we’re leaning towards a 2l for the extra performance. On our NB we’ve had a hard top on for most of the year since owning it. My wife prefers the extra insulation in the winter and reduced wind/road noise it offers. On sunny days we take the lid off, but it’s a bit of hassle and requires nearby storage. For these reasons we’re also leaning towards the mk4 mechanical hard top.

But I suspect it impacts the weight/handling, boot space and may have additional reliability issues. So we’d welcome advice on whether the hard or soft top is the way to go.

Finally are there any issues/common faults we need to be on the look out when looking at used Mk4’s?


For your budget I’d prefer the 1.5 engine as the first 2.0L weren’t particularly tuned for the MX-5 until the ND2 (2019) spec became available in late 2018. I believe the RF were obviously a bit quieter with the top up, but as it’s more like a targa-top, when dropped it was more of a noisy environment… The soft-top is excellent with top down and windows up.
Mechanically, check condition of the rear hubs as they are a very expensive replacement, though I think the aftermarket may offer a more cost-effective remedy.
Other than that, just find the nicest one that you both like and I’m sure you’ll be more than happy…! :slight_smile:



I haven’t driven the 2019-on MY 2 litre. In 2017, before buying, I had good test drives in the 1.5 and 2.0 soft tops and preferred the 1.5.

The 1.5 has slightly less maximum power and torque than a 1.8 Mk2 but weighs about 50Kg less. The performance figures are virtually identical. The 1.5 revs more freely (I’ve owned both).

The 2 litre has a bit more grunt. The version with sport suspension I drove felt slightly skittish on a poor surface, and I just liked the slightly more compliant 1.5 better. An LSD adds nothing for me.

Either 1.5 or 2.0 will be massively better on fuel than your 1.8.

The 1.5 RF version is about the same weight as your 1.8, but the effect on performance vs. the soft top is small - well below anyhting I would expect to notice.

The roof and rear window do disappear on the RF, so it doesn’t really resemble a ‘targa’ roof, but the rear pillars remain and are said to make it noisier. I haven’t experienced it.

Getting out of a Mk2 and into a Mk4, everything falls exactly to hand. The one noticeable difference to me was that the windscreen was nearer. Apparently Mazda moved it back 3 inches.


I fancied an RF ND2 2.0 for the same reasons as you early days. I then chose an ND2 1.5 roadster after a test drive. I think you need to drive and choose. My choice was mainly based on I liked the feel of openness in the roadster vs the RF and the 1.5 suspension suited the types of roads I frequent. If you drive on long trips a lot, like the idea of perhaps more security via the hard top. Maybe the RF 2.0 is for you.

I remember this thread from May this year, maybe worth checking any potential purchases as one owner seemed to have some corrosion issues in the hardtop ? The thread seemed to stop without any conclusion so may be a one off. Some useful pics anyway …

No bad choice really !!

You might want to hang fire for a bit until the current price rising subsides.
To give you an idea a 3 year old 2 litre with average miles was selling for £18k last year, but now they can be £22k!

I was reading in a car dealer website MX-5s are up on average 33%.

So if you can wait and see what prices are like when winter hits. Usually best to buy convertibles in winter.

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Agree with @glosrich, hold fire if you’re in no rush and see if prices stabilise. There seems to be a fair number of cars in the Mazda dealer network and if they don’t all sell come Jan, you may be able to pick one up with a substantial saving,

Having driven the 1.5 for a day and owned the 2l ND2, I’d plump tor the 1.5 next time. But my 2l was a GT SportNav+ which I understand had extra insulation in the roof lining compared to some other models, but I could be wrong. It was sufficiently refined for me though of course being a soft top did have some noise at motorway speeds.

For example my local dealer Johnson’s Gloucester are stuffed up with a new 1.5 in the showroom and 5 used ones, plus I know they have a demo MX-5 also.
These high prices can’t last, supply is beginning to become too plentiful and autumn is coming.

One thing not mentioned already is Apple CarPlay / Android Auto.
It’s standard on later cars but can be retrofitted to any mk4. Dealer rrp is about £399 but I bought the parts from China and did it myself for under £90. I much prefer using wase or google maps as my main navigation system and this makes it possible on the main infotainment screen without trying to find a way to mount your phone on the dash….
So some cars you are looking at may have it and some not… worth bearing in mind if it’s useful to you….
By the way, I’ve got a 2016 2.0 soft top. I’ve never regretted my choice but everyone has their own preferences…

Another question you had but have not had a response to is the handling. In reality there is no real difference between the hard top version and the soft top. Obviously a small amount, but nothing that would cause you to say that the RF was not still a great car and not the main consideration when choosing.

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Having owned 2x1.5s and 1x2.0, all soft tops. I would say take note of where you are normally driving, the 2.0 was great on the Mway, no need to change down to overtake and lovely to cruise in. The 1.5 requires a bit more gear changing and seems better to me personally on the twistys.

No complaints of the soft top being too noisy. Not sure if there are any insurance benefits with the hard top?

Thanks everyone, this is really useful advice.

We can wait until the winter, but it’s really hard to know whether this current hike in used car prices is just temporary or here to stay.

I’ve been reading a fair bit about inflation causing price hikes right across the globe in recent months. The BOE say they expect it to dip back down within a year, but I think Covid makes all forecasts null and void for now, particularly with such globally interconnected economies based on cross border trading.

On top of that some economists are warning of general price hikes in the coming months when the Brexit grace period ends (or is supposed to) on the 1st Oct.

So I’m nervous about waiting until winter if the aforementioned plays out badly. I realise no one has a crystal ball though.

This might not be any concilation, but I bought my 2018 (68) ND2 2L during July last year between Covid lockdowns. 22 months old, 7k on the clock, 1 owner and immaculate from a small independent trader. Cost just shy of £20k back then and I thought I had bought in at the top-of-the-market. So many factors driving the market at once now, Brexit, Covid, Microprocessor shortages and obviously the industry and government encouraging the buying of electric cars… If you want one now and find one you really like, I’d be buying it tbh…



Everyone can have an opinion on price, but only you know the value.
Those autumn afternoons driving through beautiful countryside. How do you put a price on that. You never know how circumstances may change, so if you think it is worth paying, then you should go for it….and enjoy yourself.


Hi Ceramic, I’m with you. I have just bought a 65 plate with 13k on the clock from a main dealer. I know I paid top price. Do I regret it ? Only wish I had bought one years ago. I am where I want to be.
I am confident in my decision. Loving the experience.

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I incline to agree with the last 3 replies. By the time you’ve waited a year for a price adjustment, you’ll have missed a year of ownership. And prices might still be high especially if there’s some inflation.


I think I’ll start looking at ND’s on offer and keep an eye on the prices in the weeks ahead. Perhaps the onset of winter will dampen the prices a little. We’re not in a big hurry, so we’ll see what happens.