Miata still the fun roadster it's always been
There are still some of us who believe that cars are meant to be enjoyed and that driving should be fun. Thankfully there are still some cars on the road aimed directly at enthusiasts. And when it comes to the Mazda Miata, the enthusiast crowd is divided. Some say it’s too juvenile-looking while others love its driving personality, despite its diminutive size.
I say, spend a week with the 2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata (Miata from here on out) and you’ll find all kinds of personality and will understand why it’s one of those “always fun” little cars.
For sure small convertible cruisers like the Miata are practically a dinosaur. The fun-to-drive two-seat Miata shows there’s still a market for a car like this and I personally enjoyed my time behind the wheel.
The simplistic styling of the Miata is what earns it the reputation of being a little too dated (i.e. not mature enough). I think it’s more appropriate to call it timeless and cross generational. It’s a cruiser from the era of driving the open highway, top down, with the wind in your hair. So the simplified grille and squinty headlights flow well with the low profile of the Miata. The back end is certainly sporty and is reminiscent of sports car styling from yesteryear. On profile, with the top up, the Miata looks so tiny (and it is), but with the top down its true personality shows through.
And then that open-air personality flows over the windshield and ensconces the cabin. Mazda had that old advertising moniker of Zoom Zoom and surely the execs thought of the Miata when they came up with this. And that holds true behind the wheel.
For a vehicle with a curb weight of only 2341 pounds and a height of only 48.8 inches any amount of horsepower will feel impressive. And the go-cart-like performance of the Miata is compounded thanks to a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It’s good for 181 horsepower, but considering the size of this car, that power feels about double the amount.
A six-speed manual transmission drives home the driver-centric attitude of the Miata. My tester was the Club version which is only available with a manual. Also part of the Club trim are Brembo brakes which are considered to be the best in the industry.
Who says the Miata isn’t a sports car? Drive this version of it and you might change your mind.
The interior is obviously small. Taller drivers and passenger will be uncomfortable with the top up. But it’s a convertible, so the top should be down whenever possible. Mazda’s infotainment system continues to be difficult to operate and less driver focused. Technology-wise, the Miata being a bit of throwback is not necessarily a good thing.
But if you’re a minimalist, you’ll appreciate the interior. It seems pointless to talk about cargo room in such a small car, but there is 4.6 cubic feet of room in the trunk which is just enough for a golf bag or a few bags of groceries.
One car reviewer from Car and Driver said it well when they said of the Miata’s interior: “You don’t sit in the Miata as much as you wear it.”
That sums it up pretty well. But you’ll surely have a smile on your face with the wind in your hair and the spunky personality of the Miata.
While the 2023 model year is primarily a carryover from the previous year, the Mazda Miata remains one of the most enjoyable cars to drive – as long as you don’t mind the top down and the wind flowing over you. If that’s your thing then the Miata will resonate with you. My tester was priced just under $32,000 and has an EPA rating of 26 mpg/city and 34 mpg/highway.