Two-seat convertibles are not designed to pamper. With the roof up, head room in the MX-5 is cramped for people taller than 185cm, and the cabin is snug. And you sit low, which can work your quads when it comes to alighting.
Lowering the roof brings challenges also. It pays to keep sunscreen and hats in the car, for example. Even if it is not raining, a roofless cabin can be unpleasant on cold days – and on very hot days. Roof-down driving is best on dry days with mid-20s temperatures, and on balmy nights.
The airstream will buffet the heads of tall people, and if you’re driving faster than 80km/h even short people will notice plenty of air currents swirling around the cabin – and more of them if they wind down the windows.
Above 80km/h with the roof in place, you notice a rustling from where the canvas roof meets the windows. And on aggressive bitumen, a fair bit of tyre roar.
The hard-top RF is a bit quieter than soft-top Roadsters when the roof is shut, and it feels more cosy. Arguably, it looks more interesting too.
The MX-5 has a simple control layout, with audio buttons high on the dash and a trio of dials for the ventilation system. The tachometer – which displays engine speed – is the most prominent of the instruments, sitting proudly in the centre of the cluster, with the smaller speedo to its right.
The colour touchscreen is a touchscreen only when the car is stationary. On the move, you have to use the rotary controller behind the gear selector to navigate the menus.
MX-5 GTs have a softer feel inside than the others. Their Bose audio systems sound crisper and more vibrant, and you can play them louder.
Seats in the MX-5 are well sculpted, with good support both laterally, for cornering, and for comfort on long drives. The steering wheel can be adjusted for height but not for reach.
Raising and lowering the soft roof is done manually with the release of a lever. It's light work and you can do it from either of the front seats. In an RF the task is made even easier: hold down a button on the dashboard and the roof packs or unpacks itself.
For a sports car, the MX-5 rides very smoothly: it feels about as comfortable over bumps as many small sedans. In this respect, it would be a very easy car to live with, both around town and on the open road.
The 1.5-litre engine works best when driven hard, when it produces the sort of throaty note you might hope for from a modern small sports car. The 2.0-litre feels stronger and doesn’t need to be flogged.
The six-speed manual gearbox is light to use, abetted by a light-action clutch. The steering is light too, and the compact MX-5 body is very easy to manoeuvre in city streets.