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Timely tweaks: the new 2024 Mazda MX-5 is now on sale in the UK

Updated: Jul 6

2024 mazda MX5

Mazda announces a raft of updates for the evergreen MX-5 for the 2024 model year, and the good news is a lot of the revisions are centred around making the roadster even better to drive, with a new front strut brace, upgraded Bilstein dampers, and a new asymmetric limited-slip differential.

Some cars seem to have been around forever whilst others still feel and look brand new. Case in point: the fourth generation, or ND, Mazda MX-5. When I think of it or speak about it to my friends - two of whom are MX-5 owners - we always refer to it as “the new one.” It’s so new that September 3rd 2024 will mark 10 years since the ND was unveiled to the world. Wow.

Whilst most models would’ve long since had their mid-life facelifts and been replaced by a brand new model, this iteration of MX-5 looks set to continue on sale for the next few years until a new, electrified successor comes to market. I wonder how many bookies will take a bet on it being codenamed the NE…anyway, it’s not as if the current MX-5 has been unchanged throughout its 9 year production run so far; having launched in 2015, the soft-top roadster was joined by the RF (Retractable Fastback) model in 2016.

In 2018, the 2.0 litre engine received an output bump from 158 horsepower and 200 Newton metres (148 lb ft) up to 181 hp and 205 nm (151 lb ft). In 2021, a brake-based torque vectoring system was introduced called Kinematic Posture Control and in the years between there have, of course, been a few special editions like the bright orange 30th Anniversary Edition of 2019. 

2024 Mazda MX-5; styling and technology

This pattern of gradual improvement continues with the 2024 model - which Mazda are not calling a facelift. Externally, the differences are even more subtle than the changes that Porsche made to the Taycan which was revealed in early February. The overall face of the MX-5 remains virtually identical which is no bad thing - I know that the styling of this model has divided opinions but I think it looks sharp, focused and light in its stature. The narrow headlights still have their eyes in the form of a round main light projector but are flanked by the two lights that make up the new running light signature, with the outer segment doubling up as an indicator.

This means that the 6-piece LED running lights which were hidden within the outer air vents on the front bumper have disappeared. At the rear, the light cluster retains the same overall shape but the segmented design now features an eight-way split as opposed to six on earlier versions.

2024 MX5

The rest of it is pure MX-5 with the low-set, wide trapezoid grille, tall peaks above the front wheel arches and a strong shoulder line that kicks up ahead of the rear arches. Two exhaust pipes appear from the right-hand side of the bumper and the fuel filler remains on the left. For those who were waiting for a comprehensive redesign of the ND-generation MX-5, you will have to keep on waiting. It’s a fairly similar story inside too, with the biggest differences being the inclusion of USB-C charging ports, an 8.8” infotainment touchscreen, an updated instrument panel and a frameless rear-view mirror.

2024 Mazda MX-5; Improved driving experience

First and foremost, the MX-5 always has been and always will be a drivers' car, so it is only right that more time was spent refining the driving characteristics of the model. All 2024 MX-5s gain a new throttle map to deliver more precise and accurate response from the engine. The stability control features a new Track Mode which is set to intervene as late as possible but still provide a safety net for first-time track drivers, or people who have got to rely on more than just a dab of oppo to catch their MX-5 when the tail comes out. But when it does, the electric power steering will feel more natural as the friction in the steering rack has been reduced.

Carried over from the 2021 update is the Kinematic Posture Control system which reduces roll when cornering by applying a small amount of brake force to the inner wheel. This is standard on all 2024 models, but the 2.0-litre MX-5s get some hardware that the 1.5-litre models have to do without. A front strut brace, upgraded suspension with Bilstein dampers, and a new asymmetric limited-slip differential all feed into the desire to make the new MX-5 drive better than ever. Mazda explains the asymmetric LSD by saying:

2024 mazda mx5

“A cam mechanism has been added to the conical clutch, which is lightweight, compact and highly durable. The cam angle is set differently for the deceleration and acceleration side, thereby achieving optimal limiting force of slip during both actions. Strengthening the slip limiting force when the unloaded rear wheel is lightened during cornering enhances stability, moreover tuning the slip limiting force and optimising the set up for the MX-5’s engine, suspension and tyre characteristics ensures the purity of handling balance the MX-5 is famed for.”

My mind simply cannot fathom how gearboxes and LSDs actually work, but it sounds like the asymmetric LSD will make the 2024 MX-5 one of the most rewarding new cars to thread along a twisty section of Great British B-Road, especially with the option box for the 6-speed manual transmission ticked. There are not many cars that I think should be manual-only by law, but this car is one of them.

Of course, an automatic option is available for both the 1.5 and 2.0-litre engines. Power and torque outputs from the naturally aspirated 4-cylinder Skyactiv-G engines remain unchanged at 129 bhp and 150 nm (111 lb-ft) for the 1.5 litre, or 181 bhp and 205 nm (151 lb-ft) for the 2.0-litre engine but either one is enough for a car that tips the scales at just over 1,100 kg.

2024 mazda mx5

2024 Mazda MX-5; model derivatives

There are once again two roof options to choose from with the classic soft-top being the lighter, more open and cheaper choice, but the hard-top option is in the form of the Retractable Fastback (RF) model. The RF has a Targa-style roof that sees the flying buttress B-pillars and rise to allow the central roof section and rear window to fold out of the way. The RF is heavier but it is allowed to enter the drive-through monkey enclosure at Woburn Safari Park, whereas the soft-top is not. Top Gear got special permission to drive their convertible people carrier there and we all know how that went…

Three trim levels are available with the entry-level (1.5 engine-only) Prime Line coming with 16” wheels, rear parking sensors, heated seats, wireless smartphone integration, cruise control, traffic sign assist, hill start assist, autonomous emergency braking and much more as standard. The mid-spec Exclusive Line adds body coloured door mirrors, silver 16” rims, leather trim for the centre console and dashboard, keyless entry and a Bose sound system with speakers integrated into the headrests.

2.0 litre Exclusive Line models gain 17” alloys, adaptive headlights, a reversing camera, blind spot monitoring and the chassis upgrades with the Bilstein dampers, strut brace and witchcraft-integrated asymmetric LSD that I mentioned earlier. Available only for the 2.0 litre model is the range-topping Homura trim level which adds 17” BBS alloy wheels in gunmetal grey, red brake callipers with uprated Brembo units up front and RECARO bucket seats with leather and Alcantara trim. The accessories list features front and side skirts, a rear bumper insert and a stainless steel exhaust available - it’s nice to see a manufacturer allowing the visual appearance of a car to be customised from the factory at a reasonable price!

2024 mazda mx5

2024 Mazda MX-5; pricing and new models to come

Speaking of which, the updated 2024 Mazda MX-5 is available to order now with the first examples hitting the roads in March. Prices start at £28,000 for a Prime Line 1.5 litre soft top, rising to £37,000 for a top-spec Homura RF. Even a Ken-Spec Homura soft-top with just over £2,700 of options and accessories added brings the price to a very reasonable £38,128. 

With 25,000 of the current generation being sold in the UK since 2015, it is so good to see the brand sticking true to the tried and tested formula that has made the MX-5 a success and making changes to reward the driver for choosing to drive an MX-5. But if the last few years are anything to go by, Mazda are not done with the ND MX-5 just yet. Announced at the Tokyo Auto Salon last year was a new performance sub-brand called Mazda Spirit Racing which immediately showcased tweaked, track-focused versions of the Mazda 3 hatchback and, naturally, the MX-5.

2024 mazda mx5

Mazda Spirit Racing should fill the void left by Mazdaspeed for go-faster models to really capture the performance market and although no promises were made, a pair of seemingly production-ready models is surely a statement of intent.

At the same show, Mazda unveiled the jaw-droppingly gorgeous ICONIC SP concept. Look past the press release that talks about how it uses a battery electric drivetrain complimented by a Wankel rotary range extender and take in the proportions, shape of the grille, minimalist interior and Japan-only NB MX-5 Coupé roofline…it seems that the ICONIC SP should’ve been called “Concept MX-5 NE/5th generation” although I’ll admit their name is catchier.

However, until such a time as the next generation arrives, the 2024 Mazda MX-5 continues the constant improvement of the brilliant formula that makes up the well-loved roadster. If you have an MX-5 itch to scratch, now may be a good time to do it.


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