Entry Price: $25,295
Price as Tested: $38,000
This week, it’s the popular 2018 Mazda Miata MX-5 we review, a rear drive two-seater sports car that starts at just $25,295 for a soft top model. Now in its third year of a major redesign, new for 2018 is a red soft top and famous Recaro seats. Available in Sport, Club, and Grand Touring in either convertible roadster or retractable roof (RF) hardtop, Miata MX-5 for 2018 is a popular choice.
Built in Hiroshima, Japan, MX-5 competes against the likes of Mini Cooper, Fiat Abarth, Fiat 124 Spider, Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ, to name a few. However, being that Miata has been around now 29 years, it continues its uncontested sovereignty as the most popular little sports car in the U.S., if not the world.
Our Miata came in Club RF dress featuring the power retractable hardtop that disappears in just 13 seconds into a rear storage compartment. With a base of $31,910, our MX-5 Club RF featured near every amenity Miata offers and a few important options.
The main RF Club option is a $4,770 Brembo Brakes/Recaro Seats/BBS Wheel Package that adds the heated leather Recaro seating, race proven Brembo four-wheel disc brakes and rotors, red Brembo calipers, BBS 17-inch forged dark alloy wheels, and a nice aero kit with side sill extensions and a rear bumper skirt in brilliant black finish. It’s an expensive option, but if you want the very best in Miata race car development, this Brembo/Recaro/BBS option is a must. Previously, Recaro seats were only available as a limited edition option on very few 2017 models.
An interior package for $425 adds nice alloy pedals, anodized red oil filler cap and door sill trim plates. With $895 delivery, it brought the final tally to $38,000.
Thanks to consumers coming from all age demographics, (yes, us baby boomers still appreciate a good sports car), Miata MX-5 is still one of the cars that delivers spirited performance that won’t break your wallet. However, the price rises quickly for the Club RF with the Brembo option.
Through the years, Miata still offers amateur racers one of the biggest SCCA road racing entry classes ever devised. Both regional and national Miata MX-5 champs are crowned every year and the Mazda is so popular it evolved into other competition classes of both open wheel and full body designs. Additionally, Mazda has turned up the wick professionally with newly designed prototype race cars in cooperation with Germany’s Team Joest for IMSA competition, a most notable achievement.
When it comes to Miata’s performance, Mazda’s secret to success lies in its Skyactiv technology that emphasizes everything working in unison for most favorable performance. Miata comes with a 2.0-liter four that generates just 155-horsepower and 148 lb. ft. of torque. Although not big numbers in today’s high horsepower sports cars, MX-5 relies on a curb weight of less than 2,500 pounds that instantly turns Miata’s into a fine running and quick car.
To explain further, Miata MX-5 incorporates all of its 155 horses to the max and then relies on lightweight suspension components, perfect 50/50 front to rear weight ratio and proper six-speed manual gearing to impress most driving enthusiasts. We also note that a paddle shift automatic is available for those who don’t like shifting.
Mazda Miata sits low to the ground and some of MX-5s world class handling comes thanks to traction hungry 17-inch Bridgestone Potenza high performance tires. Even when power is needed to merge or pass, the little 2.0-liter four cylinder is up to the task, taking advantage of a higher compression ratio (13 to 1) and its high-rev capabilities. The transmission gearing is designed for spirited acceleration and expect zero to 60 MPH in the 6.5-seconds range.
Additionally, the “little engine” pays dividends at the gas pump as 26 city and 33 highway EPA numbers are decent for a lightweight sports car. If you order the automatic transmission, EPA numbers are 26 city and 36 highway, better than the manual. (But the 6-speed manual is more fun).
In summary, why is this vehicle so popular you might ask? It has to do with its fun to drive quotient and the historic legend of Miata. All Miata MX-5s deliver on the Mazda promise of mechanical integrity and come delivered with all expected safety equipment sans an unavailable rearview safety camera.
As for interior notables, a standard Bose nine-speaker stereo system with all the high-tech capabilities is standard fare, as are air conditioning, SiriusXM satellite, rear spoiler, all the powers and comfortable seating.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 90.9-inches, 2,445 lb. curb weight, 5.3-inch ground clearance, only 4.5-cu. ft. of cargo space and a 11.9-gallon fuel tank.
Few cars on the road today offer the driving excitement of the Miata MX-5 at such a low entry price. Your Mazda dealer is waiting your visit to stop in and drive one. Remember, too, that Miata is a very low to the ground sports car of small stature, which has inherent disadvantages if, for instance, impacted in the side by a Dodge Durango.
Thus, if you are contemplating a car purchase to send your child to and from work or college, no matter how much they put up a fight, a Mazda3 hatchback or a Mazda6 four-door sedan may be the better choice. Plus, the Miata RF Club coupe has a very tiny trunk.
Other than that, Miata MX-5 in any form is a fun car to drive.
Likes: Brakes, Recaro seats, fun factor, great looks.
Dislikes: Still no rear safety camera, premium fuel necessary, RF trunk space.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media.
Test Drive: 2018 Mazda Miata MX-5
Entry Price: $25,295