$15,045 - $19,275

2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata was new.


Performance: 9.3

Reviewers agree that the 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata's light weight, taut suspension, agile handling and delightful action of the manual transmission make it one of the most fun and rewarding cars to drive on the market.

  • "Any criticism leveled against the MX-5 Miata goes out the window once you get the car out on the open road." -- AutoTrader
  • "Through the years, Mazda hasn't forgotten about the MX-5's primary mission: It is still a fantastic driver's car. It feels connected to the road thanks to a light, well-balanced chassis and plenty of steering feel. The Miata isn't all that powerful, but it is exceedingly fun to drive quickly, especially when you string together a series of corners." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2015 Mazda Miata indeed feels like a go kart for adults. That means razor-sharp handling, a peppy but not overpowering 4-cylinder engine, and the rear-drive setup of a traditional sports car. Just try not to grin while throwing the Miata around a corner." -- 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 (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Mazda Miata is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The base Sport trim has a standard five-speed manual transmission while upper trims have a six-speed manual. With either manual transmission, the engine produces 167 horsepower. Models fitted with the available six-speed automatic transmission have 158 horsepower. With either setup, there is 140 pound-feet of torque. The Miata returns up to an EPA-estimated 22/28 mpg city/highway with the five-speed manual transmission, which is comparable with the fuel economy of four-cylinder rivals like the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ.

Test drivers write that the Miata may not be the most powerful car in the class, but its light weight means that it feels lively and responsive. Test drivers also praise the manual gearbox's light clutch and the smooth operation of its short-throw shifter.

  • "The Miata's modest 2.0-liter engine isn't big on power, but at a mere 2,400 pounds, how much power does the Miata really need?" -- AutoTrader
  • "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. Additionally, the short-throw shifts and easy clutch action of the manual gearbox are sublime." -- Edmunds
  • "Then there's that manual transmission. Available as a 5- or 6-speed, it is among the best in the business, regardless of price. Yes, an automatic is available, but real thrills in a Miata involve three pedals and flicks of its short-throw shifter." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2014)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers are enamored with the Miata's athletic handling and responsive steering. They agree that its handling prowess and close connection with the road make it incredibly fun and engaging to drive. Additionally, some say that the Miata is comfortable enough to live with on a day-to-day basis.

  • "It may be a cliche to say that the Miata is endowed with go-kart-like handling, but that's exactly what it feels like. With almost no hood or trunk overhang to negotiate, the driver feels as though the only things between him or her and the road are a steering wheel and a windshield." -- AutoTrader
  • "This roadster may not be your first choice for a cross-country trek, but on a winding road or for an open-air cruise down the coast, few cars stir the soul like a Mazda Miata." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Overall, the 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of the best-handling cars you can buy for the money -- and if you've never owned a rear-wheel-drive car before, it's a great starting point. It's also comfortable and easy to live with whether you're looking to simply put the top down and cruise in the summer sun, or leave the top up and embark on a lengthy road trip." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2014)

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