This little Mazda has been hailed as one of the most important contributions to the sports car enthusiast world since, well, frankly ever. The first iteration made its entrance in the early 90’s as an affordable, reliable, good looking roadster that was loaded with character and filled a void that no other car manufacturer could at that time. Its nimble and extremely modifiable chassis earned it the title as the most raced car in the world. I feel like anyone who loves cars should at least drive a Miata at some point. No matter the generation, they are all very good examples of what a sports car means at the very basic level.
So with all this lineage and hype built up on its predecessor, what would the very latest version of this beloved roadster be like? Well, we at Apex turned to our good friends at Steet Ponte Ford Lincoln to grab the keys of a brand new roadster painted in soul red premium metallic. Our test car was the Sport model and featured 16″ aluminum-alloy wheels, LED headlights, power locks and windows, a basic stereo and of course, a 6 speed manual transmission like all sports cars should have!
Upon entering the cockpit-like cabin of the MX-5, it becomes quickly apparent that this car is all about driving and nothing else. The cloth seats our test car was equipped with were supportive with plenty of bolster. The dash is driver-focused with a center-oriented tachometer and every control is in close reach of the steering wheel. Materials throughout the cabin feel and look above the MX-5’s $25,000 price point. The shifter – OH THAT SHIFTER! Miatas have always had very “snick -snick” short throw shifters that were praised for their feel. This last generation is the best by far. Somehow they have managed to make a super short throw shifter that is low effort. The clutch take up has excellent feel with the grab point right about in the center.
Starting the little Mazda’s 1998cc, 155hp engine results in a little snarl that settles to a pleasing somewhat sporty idle. The car pulls hard in first and second gear and loves to rev with a 0-60 time going down in about 5.9 seconds. This may not sound sports car fast by today’s standards, but it’s the quickest Miata yet, and that’s because this generation is down 300 pounds from the last.
Winding out the little four cylinder is a joy. Mazda has done a great job creating a small engine that begs you to push it to its limits, and never feels anemic or buzzy. The 2.0-liter rewards revs with a ton of intake and exhaust sounds that make the car feel faster than it really is. With the top down, all sounds are pretty much drowned out by wind noise. Which brings us to the top – what a fantastic and simple design. Simply unlatch it and push it back. That simple.
Steering is direct and commutative with effort decreasing off center. The suspension is very good cruising around town and even pushing the car to its limits, but it still feels a bit on the soft side with a significant amount of body roll.
The starting price for a base model Sport MX-5 like ours starts at around $25,000, and fully optioned out will run you close to $30,000. For that kind of money, I think there is a lot of driving enjoyment here. What’s not to love about a light, nimble, free revving drop top?