$11,555 - $15,508

2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata was new.


Performance: 9.2

The 2014 Mazda Miata is proof that there’s more to a sports car than mere speed, reviewers say. While there are quicker sports cars in the class, test drivers say that the Miata excels when it comes to sheer driving pleasure. They say its four-cylinder engine is refined and peppy and that the six-speed manual transmission has short, precise throws. Overall, test drivers rave about the Miata’s razor-sharp handling, accurate steering and responsive powertrain.

  • "On a curvy road it must be experienced to be believed. Other sports cars are faster. None are more fun to drive. This thing is as crisp as a fresh-out-of-the-bag potato chip." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It offers a nearly unmatched degree of pure fun; this is the only car I've ever driven where I didn't mind being stuck in Washington D.C. traffic." -- Jalopnik
  • "There are cars more powerful and more expensive than the Mazda MX5 Miata, but the MX5 is more fun to drive. It's hard to beat the Mazda's quick reflexes and wind in the hair." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "The Miata has remained steadfast, due in no small part to its sporty driving dynamics that still serve as a benchmark for others." -- Edmunds (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Mazda Miata comes with a five-speed manual transmission and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 167 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 140 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. Club and Grand Touring models get a six-speed manual transmission, and a six-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles is available on all trims. Automatic models are slightly less powerful, generating 158 horsepower at 6,700 rpm. The base Miata gets an EPA-estimated 22/28 mpg city/highway, which is better than the fuel economy of rivals like the Ford Mustang, but not as good as the Mini Cooper Roadster’s fuel economy. 

Test drivers agree that while the Miata isn’t the fastest car in the class, it’s still remarkably quick, thanks to its light weight and responsive four-cylinder engine. Reviewers have nothing but praise for the six-speed manual transmission, saying that its short throws and precise feel make it one of the best on the market.

  • "It feels quite a bit more potent than your average economy car four-banger, and it develops most of its power in the midrange so you don't have to rev it into the stratosphere to get the most out of it. Remember, it doesn't have much weight to move." -- Jalopnik
  • "There is no supercharger or turbo to boost output, no V6 crammed under the hood to throw off the 50/50 weight balance, just a marvelously rev-happy 2.0-liter engine that responds without complaint and sips fuel to the tune of 28 mpg." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
  • "The free-revving four-cylinder engine doesn't pack a whole lot of punch compared to some other sports cars, but it's always eager to play, and the short-throw manual gearbox simply is as good as it gets." -- Edmunds (2013)
  • "It's not a rocket, no. But it's quick, which is different than fast. It scoots from light to light with the best of 'em, and the gearbox is a pleasure--short and precise throws." -- AutoWeek (2011)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say the 2014 Mazda Miata is aces when it comes to carving corners, noting that its nimble handling makes it an absolute joy behind the wheel. Steering is precise, they say, and the brakes are strong. Reviewers point out that the Miata is well-suited to both Sunday drivers and race track aficionados because it is so easy to drive.

  • "It's hard to talk about the Miata's handling without using clichés like ‘turns on a dime’ and ‘rides on rails,’ but that's what it's like. There's a tad bit of body roll, but overall, it's very involved and also very forgiving. I can see why it makes such a great track car for novices, veterans and everyone in between." -- Jalopnik
  • "Raw power and fuel efficiency aren't the MX-5's raison d'etre, however - this roadster is built to tackle curvy roads. Tactile, accurate steering, neutral rear-wheel-drive dynamics and a low curb weight help the MX-5 feel nimble and communicative in a way that few other automobiles of any price can." -- Left Lane News
  • "Steering is faultless, with an immediate and communicative nature that leaves the driver with zero guesswork. Handling is similarly intuitive and incredibly entertaining, especially on twisting mountain passes. It feels as though the car's controls are hard-wired to your brain." -- Edmunds (2013)
  • "The braking was excellent, the body roll was minimal and the handling was superb." -- AutoWeek (2011)

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