When Mazda first unveiled the current generation MX-5 Miata back in 2014, it signaled a radical shift in focus, with Mazda designers breathing newfound life into a car that some thought had lost its way since it was first introduced in 1989. With bolder exterior styling, and a renewed emphasis on weight shedding, the newly rejuvenated MX-5 promises to blaze its own chapter in the sports car ranks. Our last sampling of the MX-5 was out on the track, but can it succeed out in the real world?
The exterior styling of the MX-5 embraces newfound levels of sportiness, and also retains the subtle simplicity that has come to define prior MX-5 models. The front fascia is a bold example of this assertiveness with the grille ditching the previous generation’s “happy face” look in lieu of a much meaner looking mug that boldly broadcasts the car’s sporting nature. The headlights of my Ceramic Metallic tester also get into the act, and are similar to equally bold headlight designs that have made their debut on recent Jaguar models. The side profile is relatively tidy, and nicely transitions to the rear fascia which features rounded taillamps as well as faux vents in the rear bumper.
The interior of my test car has a design that still embraces driver centric controls as well as a straightforward layout that is simple to understand. Much of the design is very similar to the Mazda3, and that includes the dash mounted upright infotainment screen, more soft touch materials, as well as push button start for models like my Grand Touring grade test car. My tester also featured leather sport seats, and they offered great levels of support though I would have personally liked a little more bolstering in the lumbar portion of the seat. The steering wheel is just the right size, and the manually operated soft top can be quickly raised or lowered without exiting the vehicle which is an advantage that some of its more powerful rivals don’t have.
Despite its small dimensions, the MX-5 offers surprising amounts of room with a tilt steering wheel that helps accommodate taller drivers but lacks a telescoping feature. The convertible top fits very well when in place, and offers occupants decent amounts of headroom. Curiously the slot for the CD player is located between the seats, an interesting choice when compared to other convertible rivals, but sound quality from the stereo was good with the headrest mounted speakers (a trick borrowed from the 80’s era Pontiac Fiero) standing out in particular.
Performance for my tester comes from Mazda’s SKYACTIV-G 2.0 liter four cylinder engine that makes a commendable 155 horsepower. While this modest amount of power means that the MX-5 will not be a good choice for weekend trips to the drag strip, it makes up for it by offering drivers two key attributes. The first of these is its all new 6-speed manual transmission. Shifts are on the short side with light action that makes this gearbox an easy unit to master. Clutch input is also spot on and it’s a blast rowing through the gears. A six speed automatic (if you must) is also available, but take my word for it and stick with the manual, you will not regret it.