What is it: Believe it or not, in its latest iteration, Mazda’s beloved little Miata two-seater is almost 3 years old already, yet still remains, as we’ve called it before, “the prototype for all modern roadsters.” Our tester here is the Club version, originally shown at the 2015 New York show. The Club model is sandwiched between entry-level Sport trim and Touring on top.
Key Competitors: Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86, Fiat 124 Spider
Base Price: $29,155 As-Tested Price: $35,240
Highlights: Mazda has sold more than a million Miatas since the first one was introduced at the 1989 Chicago auto show. Talk about staying power. Instead of getting bigger and heavier over the years as many cars do, these days the Miata is actually lighter, smaller, quicker and yes, even more nimble, than its predecessor. Changes for 2018 are minimal — why mess with success? They include a new dark cherry soft top option, red crystal and machine gray exterior paint and heated Recaro buckets.
Regardless of trim level, you get the same 2.0-liter, 155-hp four; the same double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear; the same six-speed manual transmission…and it’s all near perfect, especially for summer in Detroit.
Yup, a great time for a pure, light convertible, the kind of car you look for an excuse to drive, no matter the distance. “I’ll run and pick up your dry cleaning, honey!” “What’s that? We’re out of milk? On it!”
Indeed, the Miata is the rare car delivering joy every time you get behind the wheel. Each drive is an occasion. It toodles around town nicely and of course carves up twisty roads like few other cars. The gearbox is quick and smooth and oh so easy to operate.
I’ve read in lesser publications Miatas could use more power. I call BS on that. This engine/gearbox/chassis combination is just sublime. The engine is smooth right to the 6,800 rpm redline — no peaks or valleys. The steering is on the money, the chassis as balanced as any I recall. Direction changes happen right now, but it’s all controllable, even for a novice driver.
Overall it’s just a thrill to drive. Top down at high revs is my recommendation. Or as one editor put it, “A delightful little car.” Sums it up perfectly.
—Wes Raynal, editor
Options: Brembo BBS Recaro Package with heated Recaro sport seats ($4,470); Interior Package including alloy pedals, door sill trim plates, oil cap ($425); machine gray paint ($300)
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $30,045
As Tested Price: $35,240
Powertrain: 2.0-liter I4, RWD, six-speed manual
Output: 155 hp @ 6,000 rpm; 148 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm
Curb Weight: 2,332 lb
Fuel Economy: 26/33/29 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: Handling, engine, gearbox
Cons: Still thinking….