It took me 25 years to drive my first Mazda MX-5 Miata. It took 60 seconds to fall in love with it.
I didn’t know what to expect when I drove the 2014 Mazda MX-5. It’s been around since 1989 and is now on its third generation. I’ve had friends who owned and enjoyed them. But I also know people who think of them as a chick car. After all, it is pretty cute.
If it’s a chick car, that’s my kind of girl.
The MX-5 Mazda is a solid sports car. It has just the right amount of power and great handling. It gives you a nice feel for the road without abusing you. I grew up driving British sports cars and this reminds me of all the things I liked about those days. More importantly, it didn’t bring back any of the unpleasant memories.
The MX-5 Miata has a four-cylinder 2.0 liter 16 valve engine. I was surprised to find out that it only makes 167 horsepower. The surprise was that it seemed like more. Obviously, the car isn’t that large so 167 horses should be enough. But I’ve driven small cars that do less with more. Working your way through the manual transmission you’ll feel like you have plenty of power through the entire range of RPMs. Mileage is just OK. With the six-speed manual you’ll get 21 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway (the five-speed gets 22 mpg in the city). My week with the car averaged 22.6 mpg. But I never gave the car a break. I was always using every ounce of power (and enjoying every minute). One other thing to note is that the MX-5 Miata requires premium fuel. That’s an additional cost to factor into your driving.
The interior is not spacious, but I also wouldn’t call it cramped. It fits you like a tailored suit. There’s just no room for extras. In fact, driving with a large drink in the cup holder actually got in the way of shifting (OK, power shifting…). And don’t plan to carry anything from your shopping excursion in the cockpit. There is no extra space. Come to think of it, you won’t fit much in the trunk either. It holds a whopping five cubic feet of cargo space. But then that’s not why you’re buying this car, is it?
Don’t expect to get much in the way of high-tech. The folks at Mazda haven’t upgraded the MX-5 Miata’s electronics in a while. There were no fancy displays or complicated software interface. Honestly, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It keeps the car nice and simple which means it’s also fixable. This generation MX-5 Miata could last for years.
While this is the third generation of the MX-5 Miata, the styling hasn’t changed much over the decades. That’s a tribute to the original design. The most recent update added bulges to the fenders which give it a beefier look (if that’s possible in a small car). My test car had the convertible hard top. I think it’s well worth the extra money. Not only does it work well, but it does a great job of keeping the road noise out when it’s up.
The base price for the MX-5 Miata is $23,720 for the base Sport model. My test car was the Grand Touring which has a price in Arizona of $29,450. Add in the suspension and premium packages and the test car totaled $32,285. While that seems like a lot for a Miata, it’s dollar-to-fun ratio is still very high.
2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata
If having a great driving experience at a reasonable price is your priority, then you’re really down to one difficult question. Should you by the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata or wait until the next generation model comes out in 2016? The new body style was unveiled the day I got my test car. Frankly, I think it’s a perfect evolution of the original version. It’s not just adding being or bulging bodywork, the new styling is a sporty new direction that takes the Miata away from the “cute” look. Buy now if you like the current look (and price) of the MX-5 Miata and prefer the simpler electronics. Hold off if you want the updated style and prefer what will likely be an updated (and potentially unproven?) electronics package. Honestly I don’t think you can lose either way.
And I don’t intend to let 25 years go by before I drive another one.