CAR REVIEW: 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Sporty, affordable

James Raia

The 2014 Mazda MDX-5 Miata is available in a two-tome hardtop convertible.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata debuted in 1989 as a 1990 model at the Chicago Auto Show — and at an ideal time. Roadsters we’re particularly en vogue at the time. But Mazda nevertheless introduced the little beast as an affordable two-seat convertible sports car. The rest is automotive history.

The Mazda MX-5 or as it’s called only in the North America, the Mazda MX-5 Miata, is the best-selling car of its class globally. More than 900,000 have sold since the most recent international tally at the end of 2011.

The name Miata derives from the German word for “reward.” And thus the car’s name also serves as an homage to roadsters of yesteryear like the Triumph Spirtfire, MG MGB, Fiat 124, Alfa Romeo and Lotus Elan.

The 2014 Mazda MDX-5 Miata is available in a two-tome hardtop convertible.
The 2014 Mazda MDX-5 Miata is available in a hardtop convertible. Images © James Raia/20123

The Miata was upgraded in 2013, so the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata largely remains the same as last year’s offering.

2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Under The Hood

The 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata is offered in three trim levels: base Sport, Club and range-topping Grand Touring. All come standard with a manually operated soft top, while the top two trims are available with a power-retractable hardtop (PRHT).

Standard features for the Sport trim include 16-inch alloy wheels, a vinyl convertible top with a glass rear window, foglights, air-conditioning, cloth seats, a height-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel, power windows and mirrors and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary jacks.

The Club trim adds 17-inch wheels, sporty front and rear fascia treatments, black exterior trim, a black cloth convertible top, cruise control, power door locks, keyless entry, unique interior trim, a leather-wrapped shift knob, a trip computer and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The Club emblem is also featured and there are black outer mirrors, black rooftop, headlight bezel and dual exhausts.

The Miata is available with a five-or six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. My weekly driver was the sporty club version with the hard top option. It had a manual six-speed transmission, the proper choice for any true sports car.

2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Comfort & Convenience

As a small sports car, the Miata can’t be something it isn’t. The bucket seats, while comfortable, are snug. As a 6-foot, 190-pound driver, I wasn’t cramped in the car, but nor could I stretch out or extend my legs or arms. I suspect a driver any larger would be uncomfortable. And true to sports car form, the Miata isn’t the easiest car to entry or exit.

Convertibles are universal in one respect. They’re more fun to drive with the top down than with the top up. The two-tone Miata I drove (Zeal Red/Jet Black) easily transitioned from hardtop to convertible. It involved pushing the latch release button, releasing the latch and then pushing another button on the console. Thirteen seconds later, the hard top was secure.

Sports car driving is also unlike driving any other vehicle. In the Miata, I felt the road and I felt every bump. But that’s part of the enjoyment. Likewise, the Miata is noisy and similar to many small sports cars, there are side-view blind spots and there’s not much room for anything else other than the driver and passenger.

Yet, the Miata is a delight. It’s not particularly quick from a standstill, but its acceleration improves greatly approaching freeway speeds or when a quick burst is needed for a lane change at high speeds.

Its adept corning and steering further assists the Miata’s fun-to-drive personality. It’s a sports car with a country road on a warm afternoon waiting for it.

2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Facts & Figures

Engine, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 167 horsepower.
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg (city), 28 mpg (highway), 24 mpg overall, six-speed manual transmission.
Manufacturer’s website: www.mazdausa.com.
MSRP: $28,665.00.
Price As Driven, $29,460.00
Warranty: Bumper-to-bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/50,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.

Guest Comment

“Lots of sports cars are faster or flashier but, now in its third generation, the 2014 MX-5 Miata perfectly maintains that tradition of unmatched affordable and reliable fun behind the wheel.” — Kelley Blue Book

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words

“It’s impractical and not that quick. But the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata is two-seat roadster that defines the term sports car at an Everyman’s budget.”

Article Last Updated: June 17, 2014.

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