2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata review

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata
When Mazda debuted the first Miata in 1989 they were inspired by the MGB and Triumph Spitfire. But unlike those British icons, the Miata was engineered to be as reliable as a Toyota. Twenty-nine years later, it’s probably safe to say Mazda achieved its goal. The cute little underpowered convertible of 1989 grew up to be the hottest selling roadster in American automotive history.

And for good reason.
MAR 12, 2018

Here is our 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a riot of fun for the average driver. No, it’s not a muscle car, it’s not a Porsche 911 (but it is a poor man’s Boxster), and it doesn’t have any of the amenities of upscale sports cars or sedans. What it does have is a gutsy SkyMatic four-banger, a sweet, short-stroke six-speed manual transmission, an effective yet economical sports suspension and the ability to fling it into a curve and never have it lose its track. It’s a blast to drive.

And it starts at $25,000 and doesn’t get much past $29,000 fully loaded. And it gets 34 mpg. The Mazda MX-5 Miata is far more accessible to buyers than the exotic competition. That’s what makes it such a hot seller.

 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Front 

Get Excited Every Time You Drive

The Miata is a roadster. That means when you slide into it, your butt is going to be close to the ground. Actually, “slide into it” is not an accurate description. The Mazda MX-5 Miata is snug. You don’t so much ride in it as wear it. Kind of like a pair of tight skinny jeans.

That fit is intentional. The Mazda engineers, following Mazda’s Zen-like desire to make the driver and car as one, designed the cockpit so that everything fits. The steering wheel is optimally positioned, the stick is right where it should be, the instruments are simple and backlit for easy reading, and there’s even a left footrest exactly in the right place.

The fabric ragtop is a cinch to put down and pull up. Pull a latch and give the top a push and it’s down. Getting it back up is the same routine except you grab a handle and pull up. With the top-down and the Bose system cranking, you’re ready to take on the twistiest roads in the neighborhood.

 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Profile

How Much Zoom, Zoom Can You Get Out of 4 Cylinders?

Remember this is a roadster and you drive it for the experience, not to race for pink sheets on the street. That said, the Mazda MX-5 Miata's 2.0L four-cylinder powerplant is no slouch. It only generates 155 horsepower and there are turbocharged four-bangers that put out twice that amount. But the Mazda MX-5 Miata only weighs a touch over 2,300 pounds and that allows the roadster to scamper from zero to sixty in 6.5 seconds.

Remember you are sitting low to the road. From that position, the sensation of speed is amplified, and you will most likely have a grin plastered on your face as you downshift through an S curve. The short, stubby shifter slips in and out of gear with smooth, yet crisp precision and is a delight to operate. Clutch action is smooth and effortless as well. On top of that, the 4 banger has a satisfying exhaust tone when you get the revs up.

Agility is a hallmark of the Miata. That means quick steering input which can result in a bit of a jittery ride if you tend to become distracted at the wheel. Braking, on dry or wet surfaces, is excellent and builds driver confidence. Because it is inspired by rally cars, the suspension is on the stiff side. If that’s a problem for you, stay away from the Club trim which has an even stiffer sports tuned suspension.

What’s the Down Side?

It’s got an incredible sporty looking design, it’s a blast to drive, it gets 34 mpg and it’s relatively cheap, but it’s not for everyone. There are some challenges:

  • Noise. With the top up or down the car is noisy. In an effort to shed weight, Mazda removed a bunch of noise deadening material. It’s not “yell at your passenger” noisy but it can wear on you if you go on a road trip.

  • Yoga exercise. Getting in or out of the Miata with the top up can require some interesting bending and stretching maneuvers if you are a tall person. Also, the cup holders are in almost inaccessible space that requires reaching back.

  • Cargo space. There isn’t much of it. The trunk is good for a trip to the grocery providing you are not buying a Thanksgiving feast. It’s 4.3 cubic feet can accommodate a carry-on bag with a little space left over. Cabin storage is next to nil.

  • No automatic climate control. It’s a cold ride in the winter like almost any convertible. The heater can be blasting but the wind will find its way into the cabin. There is a new MX-5 RF (retractable Fastback) that provides a hardtop, and it’s pretty cool, but that drives the price to about $36,000.

 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Rear Exterior
 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Interior

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review

Overall, if you are looking for fun in your ride, you absolutely have to test drive one of these things. Even if you can afford more, drive a Miata so you can compare what you are getting when you shell out an additional $25k to $35k for an Audi, BMW or Porsche Boxster.