Buying Used – 2005-2015 Mazda MX-5 NC-series

Mazda MX-5 NC silver rear quarter
Mazda MX-5 NC silver rear quarter

The Mazda MX-5 NC-series combines wind-in-the hair fun and reliability at an affordable price

If you fancy the idea of classic open-top motoring but baulk at the thought of owning an old sports car with its attendant reliability issues, Mazda’s diminutive MX-5 is the solution. For sheer driving pleasure at a reasonable price, nothing comes close.

First seen in 1989 as the NA series, the MX-5 quickly established a cult following and subsequent models have stayed true to the original concept. The basic design formula was to build a lightweight front-engine/rear-wheel-drive sports car that had the appeal of a 1960s classic, but with the benefits of modern construction, safety tech and an easily operated soft-top that didn’t leak in a rainstorm.

How does a Mazda MX-5 NC-series drive?

The NC model launched in 2005 with a larger 2.0-litre engine and in 2009 the NC series II followed with a revised front bumper design and more aggressive wheel arches. In 2012 the NC series III was introduced with minor styling and mechanical changes but most notably no soft-top – buyers preferred the electric folding hardtop.

Don’t sneer at the 2.0-litre four-cylinder’s meagre power output (by today’s standards) of 118kW at 6700rpm and 188Nm at 5000rpm. The free-revving engine is matched to an excellent six-speed manual transmission and even the six-speed auto versions, with paddle shifters, provide a definite sporty flavour. Remember, the MX-5 weighs in at just over 1100kg, so in the right hands over tight stretches of road it will leave many hot hatches eating its dust. The MX-5 loves corners and, unlike many front-wheel-drive cars, its steering doesn’t load up and become heavy.

However, snug internal dimensions are apparent when you climb behind the wheel and anyone over six feet tall may find the available seating adjustment an issue.

What should I know before I buy a used Mazda MX-5 NC-series?

Mazda’s build quality and reputation for reliability are highly regarded and most buyers tend to be enthusiasts that pamper their cars, so problems are few and far between. The basic usual rules still apply, though: investigate the owner and service history, make sure the vehicle isn’t heavily modified, and check that good quality tyres are fitted.

Before you buy a used Mazda MX-5 NC, make sure the car ticks all the boxes with an NRMA Mobile Vehicle Inspection.

How much does a Mazda MX-5 NC-series cost?

Mazda MX-5 NC convertible manual (2005-2012) – $7500-$15,100

Mazda MX-5 NC coupé roadster manual (2012-2015) – $17,500-$21,700

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