Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe
20 September 2006
|Key rival:|| BMW Z4|
But now Mazda has extended the MX-5 range with the new Roadster Coupe, almost creating the unthinkable with a retractable hard-top version of the car. Fans, however, don't need to worry, because this new model is still the same car at heart, but with the added bonus of a solid roof that offers the increased security and refinement important to business car drivers. The new roof should see the car get onto choice list that the fabric-roofed version can't reach.
The main thing that has won Mazda's MX-5 its legions of fans across the globe is its simplicity. It's a small front-engined, rear-wheel drive two-seater, with a simple manually operated fabric hood; a purists' roadster in the increasing age of coupe-convertibles that put style over substance.
The same two engines - 126PS 1.8 and 160PS 2.0 - are fitted to both models, and the Roadster Coupe is pitched at £1200 above the equivalent soft-top. As well as the hard roof, that price difference also pays for climate control, which isn't standard on the soft-top.
On the road, with the roof down, it's virtually impossible to spot which version you're driving, as the Roadster Coupe doesn't suffer from any serious performance or handling negativity associated with heavier hard-tops. That's mainly because Mazda has worked hard to keep the extra weight down - the Roadster Coupe weighs in at just 37kg more than its soft-top sibling.
Roof up, the new model is refined at high speed, save an annoying wind whistle coming from the rear of the cabin. The roof itself is the quickest folding example on the market, dropping in 12 seconds, and, the hard-top doesn't need any more space than its canvas sibling, so boot capacity stays at 150 litres.
Mazda reckons that around 20% of MX-5 buyers will opt for the more expensive Roadster Coupe model, but that's a conservative estimate based on the fact that no manufacturer has ever sold coupe-cabrio and fabric-roofed versions of the same model side-by-side before, so the company doesn't know what to expect.
The MX-5 Roadster Coupe manages to avoid the compromised feeling of many of its coupe cabriolet siblings. The better security and refinement means it's the more sensible fleet option despite the higher P11D, and the cost per mile figure is predicted to be only 1.5-2% higher than the soft-top sibling. The new model has managed to add the benefits of a hard roof without losing the things that make the MX-5 such a good car.