The Mazda MX-5 is one of my favourite new cars on sale. Ever since the first iteration, each MX-5 has retained the core formula of being a lightweight, sharp handling, naturally-aspirated roadster, with an exceptional manual transmission, combined into a reliable and relatively affordable package.

It’s a formula that Mazda has been creating for over 30 years, and they’re seemingly the only ones that can consistently do it right. Today, there’s no other car company producing a roadster to compete with the MX-5, which only makes it all the more special in my eyes.   

So, when Mazda offers up the opportunity to road trip the newly revised 2024 Mazda MX-5 GT from Auckland to Wellington, the answer is always going to be an emphatic yes

Sure, we’re not exactly in summer any more and it’s a tad cold outside, but I am prepared to brave it so I may inform you all that is good and new about the 2024 Mazda MX-5.

What We Like and Dislike About The 2024 Mazda MX-5 GT

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Excellent handling
Playful chassis
Strong mid-range performance
Rev-happy engine
Fantastic manual transmission
Solid Brembo brakes
Decent fuel economy
Well-built cabin
Better infotainment
Excellent Bose stereo
Ever better than before
Tight cabin
Little cabin storage
Unrewarding top-end performance 
Needs more colourful paint options

What’s In the 2024 Mazda MX-5 GT Range?

There are two variants of the Mazda MX-5 available for Kiwi buyers, the MX-5 GT and the MX-5 RF.

Mazda MX-5 GT$60,490
Mazda MX-5 RF$61,990

The MX-5 GT is the roadster. It’s the classic MX-5 formula, with an open-top and a manual transmission only. The ‘GT’ suffix is Mazda’s way of saying they’ve sprinkled the special sauce on it, adding 17’’ forged BBS alloys, Brembo Brakes, Bilstein suspension, and black-out trims amongst other features. It weighs just 1,060kg.

The MX-5 RF has a folding hardtop. It’s a bit more seasonally friendly, and a bit softer around the edges compared with the GT. It’s offered as an automatic only, and doesn’t feature the GT’s additional performance bits. It tips the scales at 1,131kg.

Both are powered by a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated inline 4-cylinder engine, producing 135kW of power at 7,000rpm and 205Nm of torque at 4,000rpm.

There are seven colours to choose from for your MX5, the newest colour being Aero Grey Metallic (as featured on our test car).

  • Aero Grey Metallic
  • Deep Crystal Blue Mica
  • Jet Black Mica
  • Snowflake White Pearl Mica
  • Zircon Sand Metallic
  • Soul Red Crystal Metallic (+$700)
  • Machine Grey Metallic (+ $700)

For more information on the Mazda MX-5 range, visit Mazda New Zealand’s website.

How Does The 2024 Mazda MX-5 GT Compare To Its Competition?

The below table underscores just how special the Mazda MX-5 truly is. It’s virtually the only car of its type still around in 2024. The Toyota GR86 is the MX-5’s closest rival, but it is only available as a 2-door coupe and Toyota has limited numbers coming into the country.

Sure, you can get other fun cars for around $60,000. But you can’t get the MX-5’s formula of automotive bliss from anyone else.

Fuel (L/100km)Boot space,
Price (excl CCP)
Mazda MX-5 GT2.0-litre four-cylinder engine135/2056.37.6130$60,490
Toyota GR86 Manual2.4-litre four-cylinder engine174/2505.910.6226$59,990

First Impressions Of The 2024 Mazda MX-5 GT 

Ever since the original NA, the design of each MX-5 generation has always conveyed its jovial character. The MX-5 GT of late (that is, the ND2), is probably the most serious design the MX-5 have ever sported from the factory, but its rounded edges, flowing lines and smiling grille still demonstrate the same character as the original.

Aesthetically, the ND MX-5 hasn’t changed much in its nine years of production. In 2023, the introduction of the MX-5 GT introduced the 17-inch BBS wheels, the Brembo brakes and a bunch of blacked-out features.

For 2024, the main changes are a fresh set of adaptive LED headlights and LED taillights. The new headlights integrate the DRLs that had previously been a strip mounted lower on the bumper. This minor hardware change makes the new MX-5 seem more modern and complete compared with before, where the separate DRLs had looked like an afterthought.  

There’s also a fresh colour for 2024, Aero Grey Metallic – featured on our press car. It’s a handsome hue in the flesh, but for some reason, the ND MX-5 is seemingly allergic to colour. Sure, you can still get the MX-5 in Mazda’s brilliant Soul Red Crystal metallic, but whatever happened to the palette of vibrant colours, such as Marina Blue, British Racing Green, or Sunburst Yellow?

A fun car needs fun colours, but otherwise, this 2016 design has barely aged. The MX-5 is still a good-looking machine.

What’s The Interior Like In The 2024 Mazda MX-5 GT?

The cabin of the MX-5 is all too familiar to us at DriveLife. We reviewed this ND generation MX-5 when it first came out in 2016, reviewed the MX-5 RF in 2017, again in 2019, 2021, and finally the MX-5 GT twice, in April and July of 2023.

For 2024, the MX-5 cabin has received some updates, but otherwise it is fundamentally unchanged.

In summary, the MX-5 cabin is small, but clever. Somewhat cramped, yet superbly built and designed. It’s functional, with everything necessary right at your fingertips and it has many of the creature comforts expected in 2024, without creating clutter.

For the driver, Mazda has achieved positioning perfection. You sit low, flanked by a high transmission tunnel allowing your arm to fall perfectly to the gear stick, and the door belt-line is just low enough for some arm-out-the-window action on a summer’s day.

As mentioned before, the controls and switch gear are right at your fingertips and are nicely damped. Importantly, none of these controls get in the way when driving.

Many of the MX-5’s touch points, such as gear knob, steering wheel, and seats are high quality, but there’s nothing inherently special about them. I reckon Mazda could have invested in something slightly nicer to differentiate the ND3 from its predecessors, or given us the option of Recaro seats, like they do overseas.

Otherwise, the seats are supportive enough for the road and have decent adjustment. Like previous MX-5’s, Mazda has incorporated speakers into the headrests. These form part of the MX-5’s Bose audio system, which includes a 203W amplifier. Both contribute to an excellent sound system, with enough grunt to allow you to hear your tunes with the roof down at 100kp/h. 

The cabin also doesn’t suffer from too much wind buffeting when travelling on the motorway with the roof down. Although you might believe that a roadster is only suited for summer, the MX-5 does have heated seats and decent climate control, which creates an effective micro-climate inside, even in the winter.

The major change for 2024 is on the technology front, where the MX-5 receives a fresh 8.8’’ infotainment unit, along with Mazda’s latest user interface. The screen is high resolution, responsive and the interface is simple to use. Although the interface is designed to work from the jog dial (which I really like), the screen is also a full touchscreen that works in motion. This might seem like stating the obvious, but some modern Mazdas do not use touchscreens, requiring you to use the turn wheel. Not the case for the 2024 MX-5. 

The infotainment also has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are conveniently added to the right of the home menu. The reversing camera also has better resolution, and 2x USB-C ports have superseded the USB-A ports.

More minor changes include a new bezel-less rear-view mirror, and Mazda’s trimmed the flanks of the centre console with a contrasting stitch.

For all the advantages of being a small and lightweight 2-seat roadster, those same qualities also contribute to the MX-5’s natural limitations. It’s a small car, which means a smaller cabin. I personally didn’t have any issue, but if you’re anything above 6-ft, the MX-5 will be a tight fit. Also, putting the seat all the way back rubs against the rear hoops.

Cabin storage is also a sore point for the MX-5. There’s no glovebox, but instead there’s a modestly sized cubby between the driver and passenger, along with a shallow cubby on the centre console. The former does have its space vertically impeded, and the centre cubby can really only fit the keys and a few loose ends. 

There are also no door pockets, meaning water bottles need to go in the cupholders. The cup holders themselves are removable, and can be mounted on the centre console or near the passenger’s knee. They’re sturdy enough, but you’ll want to limit the size of the bottle (or cup), because a high-g corner may turn your bottle into a flying projectile – or worse. 

To Mazda’s credit, there are larger storage bins behind the seats of the driver and passenger, although these cannot be accessed while you’re in the car. 

The MX-5’s small boot is something that goes with the roadster territory. That said, there’s easily enough space for two weekend bags. Anyway, it’s a small sacrifice of being able to enjoy the MX-5. If you can’t travel lighter, just take the damn SUV.

What’s The 2024 Mazda MX-5 GT Like To Drive?

After collecting the new MX-5 from the Mazda New Zealand headquarters in Mount Wellington, my first action was to escape Auckland by the afternoon. This objective was preceded only by acquiring some snacks.    

My journey back to the capital city was deliberately unscripted. I had the entire rest of the day to follow my nose, which naturally took me in the direction of winding roads.

Although urban driving wasn’t exactly on the agenda, it’s difficult to avoid traffic in our largest city. It only took a short patch of congestion to remind me that the MX-5 is a fairly friendly city car.

There’s a healthy amount of torque produced low in the rev-range, meaning the wee Mazda was happy stopping and starting. Creeping through traffic with a manual transmission can be a tad arduous in some cars, yet the clutch in the MX-5 is lightweight and has a predictable bite point. It also has a good turning circle, which made snaffling a space in a busy supermarket carpark all too easy.

I mention this as an aside, but it may help some of you convince a reluctant spouse that your next car can be a two-seat roadster. You can thank me later. Anyway, the point of this journey is to familiarise oneself with the changes Mazda has made underneath the MX-5 for 2024, and there are some substantial ones at that.  

The new MX-5 has a new steering rack, which has been tweaked by Mazda for better steering response. There’s a new, faster-locking rear limited-slip differential (or LSD), and for the first time, there’s a track mode.

Don’t fret, because Mazda hasn’t played with the MX-5 for the sake of it. Instead, these changes aren’t to fundamentally alter the MX-5’s driving experience, but to instead increase the MX-5’s breadth of abilities on the road and the track. Testing these enhanced abilities would need to wait, as we headed south on the Auckland-Waikato expressway.  

There’s a delayed sense of gratification which one can experience when one heads away on holiday. It’s the mental decompression which you experience when your brain finally recognises its away from the trenches of everyday life and it can finally drop its guard. For me, this arrived after getting off State Highway 1 at Tamahere. The clock had just passed 1pm, the roof was down, the sun was at its peak and hard-rock was blaring through the stereo (Architects – in case you were curious). The seasons weren’t going to interfere today, even though the temperature was slightly crisp.

Following my nose, I headed westward towards an area where lines on the map became squigglier. Having driven several examples of the ND generation MX-5, I broadly knew the experience I was in for. Such expectations can work against you, like when you’ve overplayed a song or experienced too much hype. 

Although, it only took a few fast bends to remind me of why MX-5 drivers are probably among the happiest drivers on the road. Since the beginning, the MX-5’s character has been defined through a lightweight chassis along with sharp, eager yet playful handling characteristics. Hardly a surprise to anyone at the time, as the inspiration for the first MX-5 was the original 1960’s Lotus Elan.

The ND has channelled the same ethos since 2016. The car feels light on its feet and the chassis has little rotational inertia. It feels keen to move, responding quickly to your inputs and its 50/50 weight distribution provides it with a natural cornering balance.

Even though the MX-5 received beefed-up Bilstein dampers in 2023 when Mazda introduced the MX-5 GT, it retains a natural yaw in hard cornering. This lean is progressive and is the chassis’ way of communicating the MX-5’s natural boundaries. There are not many occasions where you lose connection with what the car is doing. Together, the MX-5 feels like it relishes every single corner, providing a driving experience which lives up to expectations on every occasion. 

You can really lean on the Brembo brakes which Mazda added for the GT in 2023. They bite confidently and deliver a good pedal feel. Although, you aren’t likely to appreciate this fully until you’re on the racetrack, where they should resist fade for longer.

The word ‘racetrack’ is a convenient segway to discuss Mazda’s revisions for 2024, which include track mode. In the MX-5, track mode is relatively simple, down-regulating the stability control in certain areas to allow for more slip and tail-wagging action. On the road, you needn’t really use it because most of the MX-5’s settings are fixed – i.e. it doesn’t have adaptive dampers or any complicated engine and automatic gearbox settings. Track mode is for the racetrack, and those who’ll use it will certainly appreciate it.

In a similar vein, the new LSD is intended for better responsiveness at the racetrack. Previous ND models have an LSD, except this new one manages load better and locks up quicker than before. Again, you may not necessarily notice on the road, but it will be appreciated by those inclined to test the MX-5’s limits. 

The twistier sections of bitumen beyond Otorohanga provided plenty of opportunity to gauge the changes Mazda has made to the steering in the MX-5. According to Mazda, the steering has reduced friction and should feel more precise in the corners. 

In practice, the changes are minimal. I’d also be lying if I said I registered much of a difference between 2023 and 2024. Although, the MX-5’s steering is already direct, well-weighted and wasn’t exactly in need of improvement. Mazda’s approach of minor tweaks is perhaps quite calculated, and probably to the gratitude of current and future owners.

It might seem like I am downplaying the changes, but that’s not the intention. Instead, these changes are to give the MX-5 a greater breadth of abilities, without drastically altering an already excellent formula.

The engine is unfettered for 2024, featuring the same 2-litre naturally aspirated 4-cylinder, outputting 135 kW of power and 205 Nm of torque. It may seem lacking in the era of social media, which will have you believe that everyone is driving 1,000-horsepower Lamborghinis, but if you live in the real world, you’ll appreciate that the performance delivery is rather spirited.

The engine spins through its rev range briskly, delivering a punchy mid-range. Paired with a body which weighs just a fraction over a tonne, you’d be surprised by how quickly the MX-5 can move. The MX-5 will do the 100kp/h sprint in 6.3 seconds, which is quicker than the current Volkswagen Golf GTi. Mazda has even incorporated a little rev-blip when you hit the start button. It’s a small detail that makes each drive feel a bit more special.

For all which is good about the engine, the same criticisms still exist. In particular, the strong mid-range performance gives a compromise at the top end. There’s no especially rewarding redline, meaning there’s no great incentive to hunt out the higher rpms. The engine is also a refined unit which is great for daily driving, but it doesn’t have that much character. Seldom is anything perfect, I suppose.

That said, Mazda has achieved near perfection with its 6-speed manual transmission. It’s beautifully tactile, with a short throw and short gearing. It’s one of the best manuals available today, up there with the Honda Civic Type R.

Short days are one of the downsides of this time of the year, as are the cold temperatures. It was particularly frigid arriving at the central plateau, but the colours of sunset catching Tongariro made it worthwhile to stop. Fortunately, the MX-5’s heated seats are effective at keeping your back and buns well-toasted.  

Darkness fell shortly after, which meant that the roof would go up. Mazda’s new adaptive LED headlights, with automatic high-beams were a huge advantage driving down unlit sections of road, with the occasional car passing in the opposite direction. With the roof up, it can be a tad noisy at speed, but it’s generally not a huge issue.

After enjoying the MX-5 for several hours, another stop was soon required. One, because my stomach was rumbling, and two, because although the dampers are good, the ride can be slightly unsettled on our state highways, which becomes more noticeable the longer you drive in a straight line. All the more reason to hunt out those corners.  

On the final leg back into Wellington, I began to reflect on the journey. It was that sort of profound introspection one has, driving down the Sanson straights in the dead of night with a stomach full of kebab and Pascall.

I reflected on the importance of taking time for oneself. Although this can be tough to prioritise in a world which never seems to slow down, my journey in the MX-5 was a reminder that we needn’t always rush from A to B. Because, sometimes the point of it all, is enjoying that journey (or the drive) of going from A-to-B. There are only a handful of cars available these days which are designed to enjoy the journey, and the MX-5 is arguably one of the best.

These thoughts were temporarily derailed shortly after getting caught behind a queue of long-haul trucks, without any near opportunity to pass. At this point, I had wanted the new MX-5 to have adaptive cruise control, like they do in North America.

Unlike that intrusive thought, I can attest that the safety gubbins in the MX-5 aren’t, which is perfect for a car like this. 

I returned to Wellington late, physically tired but mentally rested. The cost of 7.8L per 100kms for a day of spirited driving ain’t too bad at all. Heck, some other cars use a lot more and wouldn’t have delivered an experience nearly half as good.

There are rumours the next MX-5 generation (NE) will be hybridised or perhaps even electric. Both formats would be a drastic change compared to the ND. This makes our car all the more unique of a prospect, because not only is this MX-5 one of the last of its kind, it could be the last MX-5 as we’ve known it. 

I suppose it’s all the more reason for you to go out and experience one for yourself.

Peter’s Point of View

The MX-5 is for me the classic sports car, with two doors, a soft top, manual, rear wheel drive. It’s quite something that in today’s car-buying climate, Mazda continues to build such a car. While it’s old-school in concept, it is thoroughly modern with a full suite of safeties. And, it is so easy to live with as a daily driver. I initially thought I’d feel small and vulnerable when mixing it with regular traffic, but I am happy to report that this never even crossed my mind in practice.

Visually, and despite the age of its design, the MX-5 is a stunning derivation of the Mazda design language. Our review car was Grey, not the most exciting colour, but one that does highlight the forms. The colour did work well with the black BBS wheels that in turn contrasted brilliantly to highlight the blood-red Brembo brake calipers, Getting into the MX-5 is low but access is relatively easy. Once in, everything just comes to hand – like it had been designed just for me.

Driving it returned all those memories from my youth of a manual gearbox, and balancing the car on the throttle. But it is so much quicker, so much safer, and with brilliant driving dynamics. The steering is classically good Mazda, nice and direct, communicating and inspiring confidence, The six-speed gearbox is addictive, you find yourself changing gears for the sheer joy of it. It is so slick, the short throw wonderfully precise. The 2.0-litre engine makes useful power across a decent spread of its rev range making it more tractable than I was expecting.

Using the car for everyday duties made the process of commuting fun. The lowering and raising of the roof is simple beyond belief. So, just because I could, I made most journeys with the top down, even in light rain, it didn’t enter the cabin. With the door windows up, the cabin was perfectly comfortable in temperatures from 10 degrees. Roof down even for a nighttime spin over the Rimutaka Hill road.  

Our car is fitted with an impressive Bose sound system. There is even a pair of speakers included in each headrest. The system could easily fill the car with sound and with the fader control, it gives you sound comparable with much larger cars. The heating system is very effective and together with heated seats and steering wheel, encourages more top-down driving. Initially, I was surprised to find the Cruise Control was not adaptive although the style of the image suggested it might have been. On reflection, I think that is a reasonable omission as I much preferred to simply drive it.

I also enjoyed the reactions of our sons in response to the car. I collected my 21-year-old son from the train. He is not really a car guy but was suitably wowed by its appearance and promise of fun. He explained that his communist side would describe the car as a frivolous waste of resources, but his other side sees it as huge fun, and cool. Our other son who is 17, when asked if he was interested in going out on an errand in the car, chose to join me, leaving his mates in the middle of their online computer gaming. That’s rare!

In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the MX-5. It’s such a brilliant car that can be used every day with the ability to make even the most mundane journey fun.

2024 Mazda MX-5 GT – Specifications

Vehicle Type2-door roadster
Starting Price$60,490
Price as Tested$60,490
Engine2-litre, 4-cylinder petrol
Power, Torque (kW/Nm)135/205
Transmission6-speed manual transmission
Spare WheelSpace saver
Kerb Weight (Kg)1,060
Length x Width x Height (mm)3915x1735x1230
Cargo Capacity
Fuel tank capacity
(95 or higher)
Fuel Economy
Advertised Spec – Combined – 7.2
Real-World Test – Combined – 7.8 

Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing Capacity
(Kg, unbraked/braked)
Haha, no.
Turning circle

Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty5 years Mazdacare warranty unlimited km
5 years Roadside Assistance unlimited km
Mazda servicing for 3 years/100,000km
Safety informationANCAP Rating – 5 stars – 5 Stars – MX5

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Alistair Weekes
A millennial who prefers driving cars to having avocado on toast.
2024-mazda-mx-5-gt-car-reviewSometimes the best things in life are simple, and in automotive terms, the Mazda MX-5 is a simple formula. <br><br> The featherweight chassis, the rev-happy naturally-aspirated engine, the precise yet playful handling and the fantastic manual transmission all contribute to the MX-5 being one of the most fun cars available today. <br><br> The improvements do not fundamentally change the MX-5’s excellent formula as a road car, but instead, further the MX-5’s capabilities on the racetrack. <br><br> Because of this, many similar complaints remain. The MX-5’s interior is small, and storage is lacking. The engine could be slightly more rewarding at the top-end, and a light-hearted car deserves some light-hearted colours in the range. <br><br> These criticisms are a mere footnote in the MX-5’s story, which has now been written by Mazda for over 30 years. While other cars have become heavier, electrified and increasingly soulless, the MX-5 retains its analogue formula, which only increases its desirability for those wanting to escape and enjoy the therapy of driving. <br><br> In short, Mazda has engineered their heart and soul into the MX-5, and for 2024, it’s been made even better. <br><br> Now, if only Mazda could sell me one in British Racing Green with bronze rims…


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