Mazda MX-5 Miata still reigns at age 32

James Raia

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is among the brands' top-rated vehicles, leading the carmakler to its most reliable honors by U.S. News & World Report.

There’s little room, the trunk is tiny, body and cargo space minimal. It’s difficult to enter and exit, and it’s loud. Welcome another edition of the Mazda MX-5 Miata, nearly everyone’s favorite 32-year-old lightweight roadster.

For 2020, the best-selling sports car in history is a continuation of the fourth generation introduced in 2016. It’s stayed much the same, with a few refreshes along the way.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata defines driving fun.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata defines driving fun. Image © James Raia/2020

The two-seater is available in Sport, Club and Grand Touring trims, all propelled by 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engines with 181 horsepower.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard on all models and a six-speed automatic transmission is optional. The standard transmission option shifts smoothly and propels the sports car from 0-to-60 miles per hour in 5.7 seconds.

All MX-5 Miata choices define driving fun, but the Club trim is the sportiest. Buyers opting for the manual transmission get three keen upgrades. The Appearance Package is combined with the Brembo/Recaro Package. It’s $4,470 total, and it’s worth it.

Mazda MX-5 Miata Gets Sporty

The Appearance Package includes a front air dam, rear bumper skirt and side still extensions. The Brembo/Recaro selection features the specialized Italian brakes for performance cars, most often with red front and rear calipers. Heated Recaro seats and 17-inch dark alloy wheels are also in the package.

The collective additions make the MX-5 appreciably more attractive, particularly with the optional Machine Gray exterior paint ($300).

Standard features in the Club trim are an extension of the Base Trim and include: LED headlights, keyless entry and ignition, a 7-inch touchscreen, a six-speaker audio system and two USB ports.

Sportiness is enhanced with a front strut-tower brace, an induction sound enhancer, a limited-slip differential and Bilstein dampers.

Safety is also a strong suit. Forward collision warning, blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert are standard. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were added this year on the Club and Grand Touring trims.

All Miatas comes standard with Bluetooth connectivity (for phone and streaming-audio functions) as well as a CD player. Navigation is standard on the Grand Touring trim. It’s a dealer-installed accessory on the Club model, added via a Mazda SD card.

With the packages and taxes includes, the MSRP is pushed from $30,290 to $36,005.

When the Mazda MX-5 Miata debuted in 1989, the little sports car that could quickly gained notoriety. One year later, nearly 36,000 sold in the United States. It’s still the best-selling year in the car’s tenure.

Like many other vehicles not pickup trucks or SUVs, Miata sales have suffered in recent years. Fewer than 8,000 sold throughout the country last year, with buyers’ habits increasingly switching to practicality and away from the simple joys of driving.

Sports cars aren’t often gas efficient, but the MX-5 Miata gets that right. It’s rated at 26 miles per gallon in city driving, 34 mpg on the freeway. It’s the top tally in the segment.

The Mazda MX-5 is available as a soft-top and hardtop convertible. The former’s top functions with ease. Pull a lever near the rearview mirror and the top is released. The black cloth top folds easily in a few seconds and locks in place flush with a firm push.

Driving the Miata in city situations is a treat. Parking is simplified, maneuvering through traffic and touring the neighborhood while low to the ground makes the experience less stressful. It’s sporty driving even at low speeds, a likely oxymoron for purists.

The MX-5 Miata is at its best on winding country roads. It’s the most affordable way for sports car enthusiasts to experience driving at its basics.

Pick a cool weekend afternoon, put the top down and pull a cap on tight. Lather on sunscreen, securely position your sunglasses and forget the world’s problems — if only for a few hours.


2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Driving Nirvana With An Asterisk

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Little Roadster Gets Tougher

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Lighter, Faster More Fun To Drive


Article Last Updated: October 8, 2020.

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