Which Version????

About to buy our first MX5 and am amazed by number of options available. Decision so far 2003/2004 Mk2 1.8.

Intend to use as occasional second car with possibly a track day.

The boy racer in me says get a Sport, LSD and uprated suspension, but my sensible side says get a standard car, or limited version with some goodies like heated seats, and enjoy a more comfortable ride.

What are your views?  



 if you can find a sport with an LSD for the same money then its worth having - if not just for resale value purposes.  But I promise you, you wont be disappointed with a poverty spec model, I’ve got an 03 plated one and its the mutts.
 But I will say this.
at 03 age you’re getting to the end of the corrosion warranty, so check sills are good and also take note you will be paying significantly more road tax than if you go for a 2000 or 2001 model.  The Mk2.5 and Mk2 are very similar, but the tax benefits might make it worth it.  Not sure really, drive both and see what you prefer!

I’ve got a MK2.5 sport and wouldn’t go back - the ride is not that harsh, but it still handles amazingly well (once the tyres have a bit of heat in them).

 Heated seats makes it a bit easier to get the roof down now that it is getting cold as well.

Tax will be dearer on newer cars, as said above, but I think that it is worth it.


There is probably not a lot of difference between the sport and a normal one (I drove both, but you cannot really tell on a test drive), but it might be the differene between a nice car, and one that makes you smile every time you get in it.
The LSD adds a bit more security and performance, so that’s handy as well.


Finally, the later models have a little bit in way of creature comforts, like a fuel warning light, and a light’s on buzzer, but I couldn’t say for sure when they came in (not all MK2s had the fuel light for example).
It’s not a big deal, but it makes the car that little bit more useable.

Heated seats??? - fancy an auto & cruise control too?
Lol - only kidding! - Try plenty, wander around the forum, then decide - then start hunting for the “right” one… Biggest mistake is buying the first one you see.

Thanks for the prompt comments which are noted. I thought the Sport would have a much firmer ride so good to see not a lot of difference when you drive both.

One car on the shortlist is a 53 plate Angel with 8,000 miles on the clock ( spoke to previous owner and not all short journeys) not sure about the spoiler though!!  

Also looking at a 53 plate Sport with hard top and 30,300 miles on the clock. Both on forecourts at £7995. The Sports a main dealer  the Angels an independent.

Not really up on the tax bit as I have a company lease car, so could someone explain using the 1.8i as an example? 

Tax - http://www.parkers.co.uk/cars/road-tax/?deriv=21505
Recent announcements say the higher rates will be delayed by a year, and some sources imply they will be scrapped, but I won’t hold my breath.

I wouldn’t say there was little difference in the suspension between the sport and the normal - you would notice it being a bit firmer, but you wouldn’t (I don’t think) feel that it was too stiff for everyday use - it is a sports car at the end of the day, so if premium ride quality is high up in the list, then you should be looking at a mondeo, but likewise, it is not a track car (It’s no VX220/Caterham), so you want some comfort, and for me, the sport is a brilliant compromise - I’ve never thought (in a whole 2 months of ownership) that it was too stiff/harsh.

 Go for the sport - OK, it has done more miles, but it is still pretty low, and they should be at the same service intervals due to age anyway I think. The six speed box makes it easier to get in to the powerband (and is a good point in the “hair dresser” arguement), and can save fuel as well (although I understand the final drive is the same, so crusing at 70mph in theory should be the same, sitting at 50mph up a hill should be better).


Thanks for all the help. Can anyone confirm if the six speeder has the same 6th final drive as the five speeders 5th?? That is will the engine revs in either version be the same at say 60 in 5th and 6th??

Just to make it a wee bit simpler (/chance of a faster answer), mine sits slightly over 3000rpm in 6th at 70MPH

Watch out for clutch judder on 02-03 cars. My car had it until I changed the clutch recently. I’m almost convinced its what caused the gearbox to give up the ghost

 The 6 speed has a higher final drive so cruising is more refined. However, this doesn’t actually help mpg - the Sport is rated as being slightly thirstier though I’d guess that would be the closer ratios meaning more reving/gear-changing putting the urban cycle down rather than anything to do with cruising.

Hmmm been offered a 2004 04 1.8i for reasonable money at a main dealer £6800 with 30000 miles and FSH but trouble is it hasn’t been serviced at a Mazda dealer. Anything to worry about??

Not of real concern as long as it has been serviced.

It is not that old though, so I would have expected it to have been serviced at Mazda, so I’d like to be sure it is reflected in the price.
I plan to do my own servicing on my 03 plate next year, since it is at the point now where the warranty has gone, and it simply is not worth the extortionate prices, when just as good a job can be done for a fraction of the price and in not much time.

If it has not been serviced recently (or you are a bit unsure of the quality of the latest service), use it as a bargoning tool, and get it thrown in.

Also, keep in mind if going for an 02-54 plate that the cambelt will need done soon, if not done already, so you could try to get it done as well - if you do not plan to keep the car long, it is worth getting documentation that it has been done though.

Moved to “Buying Advice” due to content of topic.

Thanks for all your comments guys. Went out today and did a deal on a 2003 1.8 Sport. Can’t wait 'till I take delivery oops I mean the wife takes delivery!! I don’t know if it’s ok to mention dealers on this forum so apolgies to mods if I’m out of order but very happy with the team at Magna Mazda in Poole.

Good to hear views on Mazda dealers, good or bad. I’ve added Magna to the Mazda dealer review in the general section of the FAQ