$18,859 - $24,987

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata was new.


Performance: 9.1

The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata doesn't have the most powerful engine you can get in an affordable sports car, but that's OK, because the Miata's shining glory is its nimble handling. The engine is still powerful enough to deliver quick acceleration when coming out of corners. The MX-5's combination of brisk speeds and exceptional cornering ability make it one of the most fun-to-drive cars on the market.

  • "The Mazda MX-5 Miata has never been about gobs of power that enable it to drag race. This Mazda's magic lies not in straight lines, but when the road twists and turns. That's when it's at its best, or when simply cruising along a coastal highway with the top down. The MX-5 lives for these experiences and will make you feel alive when doing so." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It's easy to find rhythm driving a car like this, perfectly sized for narrow stretches of two-lane road, just enough power to keep a big, goofy grin plastered on my face." -- Automobile Magazine (2016)
  • "At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I'll say that the ND [current generation] Miata is one of the best enthusiast cars I've ever driven." -- Autoblog (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The Miata comes standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is standard, and a six-speed automatic is available. The MX-5's four-cylinder isn't as potent as the engines in rivals like the Toyota 86 or Subaru BRZ. Even the Fiat 124 Spider, which is very similar to the Miata and is based on the same platform, has a more powerful engine. Despite that, the MX-5 feels quick off the line thanks to its light weight. The manual transmission is a pleasure to use, with short throws and a precise clutch.

While the four-cylinder can't match the engine output in rivals, it does beat them all in fuel economy. The MX-5 gets up to 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission and 26 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway with the automatic. The BRZ and 86 get 21 mpg in the city and just under 30 mpg on the highway.

  • "Plus, 155 hp power means you eke out the Miata's dynamics at legal speeds. 45 miles per hour in an MX-5 is a far more exhilarating experience than that same speed in any supercar. So yeah, it's not powerful. But to paraphrase Jay-Z, the MX-5 is a super car, not a supercar." -- Autoblog (2016)
  • "It comes standard with an all-new 6-speed manual transmission, and even if you don't know how to drive stick, it's worth learning just so you can enjoy this one. The action is light, the shifts are short, and the clutch operation is simply spot-on." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)
  • "This Miata is lighter than the outgoing NC generation [previous-generation Miata] by about 180 pounds, and lighter than the NB [earlier generation] by more than a few pounds, too. That means it feels fast, faster than the old car by a good margin, and maybe even faster than the more-powerful Subaru BRZ." -- Autoweek (2016)

Handling and Braking

For fun behind the wheel, few other affordable sports cars can come close to the Miata. Its sharp steering and well-tuned suspension help it tackle even the tightest corners with ease. Unlike some other affordable sports cars, including the Subaru BRZ, the Miata is still comfortable over rough patches of pavement, despite having a suspension designed for sportiness. The Miata RF is a better car for longer trips, but since it's heavier, it doesn't handle quite as nimbly as the soft top model. The MX-5 has rear-wheel drive.

  • "The 2017 MX-5's suspension helps this roadster stick to corners, but isn't so stiff as to rattle your teeth. Steering feel is quick, and while the electric assist suffers from a slight dead spot on-center, it actually helps make the MX-5 feel less nervous than its predecessor." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "On the road, the Miata RF's expected increase in civility will make long drives more palatable. Its additional weight might be noticeable in extreme driving." -- Edmunds
  • "… the Mazda MX-5 still handles better than 90 percent of the cars on the road. It changes direction quickly, and with its small size and view from the front seat, you can place your tires on a dime at any apex." -- Autoweek (2016)

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