Compare Mk2 to Mk3

Hi… I have an old Mk2 1.8 which I love but am thinking of upgrading. I’m considering a 2 litre Mk3 with a powered hard top and want to know (as it’s bigger and probably heavier) if I would still get the nimble go-kart like experience from the later model. I am loath to sacrifice the utter fun of driving the Mk2 but am looking for maybe a tad more ‘luxury’.
Any thoughts most welcome.

Hi Andy,
Plenty of views on this if you search. Everyone has their own opinion.
I changed from a late 1.8 vvt 2.5 to a 2.0 mk3 prht.
Initially I didn’t love the newer car quite as much, but once I had refreshed the suspension I much prefer the newer car. I am 6 foot tall, and the mk2 window was a touch low for me. Mk3 is perfect. The 2.0 engine is also a peach, much stronger than the 1.8.

I am very happy with the mk3, but might buy a mk1, as an extra car, just for fun. Can’t see me selling the mk3 anytime soon.


I’ve driven Mk1, Mk2 and now Mk3. In short they all drive great if properly set up, suspension/tyres/alignment.
You gain in more refinement moving up to the next model, nothing much if anything lost on the handling and drivability side of things.
Advice, go for it.:+1:

Thanks… Sorry - I know I should have searched more but I just got inspired after a browse on Autorader.

Thanks… Have you any experience or thoughts on the Sport or Sport Tech variants?

This is worth a watch

I’ve had a mk2 and mk2.5 in the past, and was going to get another. I test drove a couple of Mk2.5s, then tried a mk3, and decided to get the mk3 over the mk2 this time. For me it is more comfortable (I’m tall) and also an early mk3 was much better value than the mk2s I looked at. I’m a year in, and really enjoying the mk3 experience. All down to personal preference as always. The driving experience is probably more influenced by condition of the vehicle in any case, once you get to this age of car.

Yep, I have the sport soft top, NC1 2007 model.
The Sport Tech came in as the NC2 the facelift models from around 2009 both PRHT (powered hard top) and soft tops.
If I changed (thinking about it) I would go for an NC2 PRHT and definitely 2 litre, I have 2 litre now. Purely as a newer model for me, the change, most NC’s will be great if correctly serviced and of course looked after in general. You do need to get down and dirty and check out any car’s undersides when buying, they do suffer from rust sadly like the earlier models, sills, rear wheel arches in particular.

Mc Trucky sums it up nicely…i went (almost) the same route; firstly an NA for fun and a NBFL 1.8 vvt as a daily…had to sell it because of the infamous rust issues … Replaced it with a NC 2.0 prht and after some adaptions (suspension, wheels) it drives as it should; the kart-feeling is still present even if a bit lesser than the NB(and a lot lesser than the NA). As a daily it’s a better car and the 2.0 is as mentioned a very entertaining engine. I measure 1,85 mr and the driving position is adequate (not perfect).
Beside that the NC is nicely equiped (but so was the NBFL Sport) and the prht is just perfect for dialy/winter driving…

My route went straight from a big touring motorcycle to the MK 3.75 2.0 Sport Tech PRHT. Good range of standard gizmos too.
For us, plenty of fun, easy (ish) to maintain. Comfortable and enough room for touring with an adequate boot. The worlds your oyster to what you wish to modify it with.
We don’t intend to sell it or swap for anything else anytime soon. :slightly_smiling_face::+1:

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Hi AndyT3511,
Just to throw a spanner in the works - I actually sold my MK3 and bought my old MK2 back?!
To expand a bit on that - I ran a MK1 as an everyday car for eight years - and loved it. Then ran a MK3 briefly, before buying a fantastic little MK2, that I absolutely loved.
Eventually, due to various circumstances, I sold the MK2 to my husband’s cousin, and after a while I ended up with a MK3 2 litre Sport - it was great, and did everything that I wanted it to do.
But … I really missed the ‘fun to drive’ feel of the MK2, and I suppose to me the MK2 feels a bit more like a classic car - so I bought my old one back last year!
None of this probably helps you much (?!) but it really depends what you like.
To me, the MK3 Sport was a superb car that had all the ‘bells and whistles’ and did everything very well, but I missed the more ‘traditional’ sports car feel of the MK2. Every time I drive it - it still puts a smile on my face - and you can’t beat that!


I went from a Smart Roadster Coupe to an NC 2.0 Coupe .
Initially I was quite disappointed with the NC. The power delivery was bland compared to the Smart which is, of course, turbocharged and the handling was ok but not as direct or involving as the Smart although I did find the steering accuracy and weight to be excellent.
However, once I had the NC lowered and the wheel alignment set up the car was transformed. The handling was fantastic and it just begged to be pushed harder and harder into corners with absolute confidence.
The bottom line is that once set up correctly the NC is sublime.


Hi Maccy,

I did exactly the same, went from a Smart Roadster Coupe to an NC 2.0 and had similar thoughts. Initially disappointed with the power delivery and handling compared to the Smart. I think a lot of this is due to the sheer size difference, the NC is bigger! I’ve just bought myself the Eibach 30mm springs and hope to find some decent alignment settings. Could I ask what settings you went for? Cheers!

Hi Phil,

I don’t know what settings I had! The work was done by MX5 City in Connesborough South Yorkshire but I would recommend Roddeson’s for any suspension work. They are the best!

I had the Eibach 30mm lower springs fitted and a full wheel alignment which is essential. It really did transform the car and turn it from something quite ordinary into a fantastic sports car. I feel certain that the NC should have come as standard with the lower ride height but was lumbered with what it came with due to UK or EU regulations.

I hope you enjoy your transformed NC. :slightly_smiling_face:

Hi Maccy,

Thanks for the tips.
I watched a interview with the head of Vehicle Dynamics from Mazda US and he confirmed that the NC1 was a bit of a compromise and the face-lift versions had revised suspension layout.
Looking forward to getting the springs fitted and a decent alignment. You’ve given me hope that I’m on the right track!
Thanks again for your response

I went from a NB Mazda Roadster RS (I think the best NB made) to an NC1 Sport.

The first time I drove it I thought 80110cks I’ve bought a Mondeo! After Mazdaspeed springs, alignment and RX8 ARB’s it was transformed into the driving experience it should be, as long as you turn the DSC off.

Must be good I’ve had it 9 years now.

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Thanks richardn. Changing the ARBs is next on the wishlist following the springs, I might checkout the RX8 bars. Thanks for the pointer!