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2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Performance

#2 out of 8 in Sports Cars

U.S. News Best Price Program

2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Performance Review


Performance: 9.4

The 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata's crowning achievement is its agile handling. It also has a lively four-cylinder engine that hustles the car up to speed confidently. The manual and automatic transmissions are refined, and the Miata manages to earn good fuel economy ratings.

  • "You'll have all the power you need from the smooth-revving 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. …Unlike some turbocharged four-cylinders, power delivery in the Miata is a bit gaspy at low-engine RPMs, but it ramps up rapidly as the revs build. The deep exhaust sound adds to the tactile experience. Sprinting to highway speed is more enjoyable when you work the short, stubby shifter and effortless clutch. And although an automatic is available, the purest way to drive a Miata is with the manual transmission. A frugal 34 mpg overall, albeit on premium fuel, is a bonus." -- Consumer Reports
  • "Power flows through a superb manual transmission so precise that it can be shifted with just a flick of the fingertip, and the MX-5's steering is so responsive that you'll think you're driving a go-kart." -- Autotrader
  • "Miatas ride firmly and can get bouncy when driving over a quick succession of bumps. The mid-level Club's firmer shocks and springs return the stiffest ride of the lineup, although no Miata rides poorly. The handling is eager, and the Miata changes direction promptly. We especially enjoy the light, tactile steering; it responds immediately and keeps the driver informed of what the front tires are doing. This is a fun car, plain and simple." -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

The 2020 Mazda Miata comes standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. That isn’t much power by modern standards, but it is enough to zip the Miata around town and up to speed swiftly. The engine operates smoothly and revs willingly, making it a joy to wring out every last bit of the 7,500-rpm redline. The standard six-speed manual transmission snicks in and out of gear effortlessly, and the available six-speed automatic delivers smooth yet prompt gear changes with a pull from the shift paddles.

The Miata gets an EPA-rated 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with its manual transmission. The automatic transmission improves the highway figure by 1 mpg. These ratings are among the best in the sports car segment.

  • "The Miata's engine revs eagerly and is powerful enough to deliver stirring acceleration. Exploring the engine's high-revving personality is encouraged by the direct, easy-to-shift manual transmission. Even the optional automatic impresses, with quick shifts and sporty programming. The softtop model ran from zero to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds in our testing; the slightly heavier hardtop RF model needed 5.8." -- Car and Driver
  • "… in the manual version, which weighs just 2,332 pounds, or the automatic version, which weighs 2,381 pounds, 181 hp feels just right. The MX-5 accelerates briskly and always seems to have power on tap when you need it. The 6-speed manual transmission and buttery clutch deliver precise, quick shifting." -- Autotrader
  • "Despite the extra oomph, the 'slow car fast' mantra still fits the more powerful Miata. That's a good thing. The freshened, engine still feels natural. Power delivery is smooth and linear, with the increased redline welcome to folks who like to rip around tight canyon roads. The 7,500 rpm cutoff also means that you don't need to shift to third during zero-to-60 runs. The additional refinements to the Miata's powertrain only add to the experience. The dual-mass flywheel makes shifting a manual-equipped Miata even smoother than before." -- Autoweek (2019)

Handling and Braking

The Miata is a blast to drive on winding roads. This rear-wheel-drive convertible feels planted around turns, with quick, communicative steering and brakes that provide strong stopping power. The Miata’s ride is rather firm, though, especially with the Club trim’s stiffer suspension. Uneven pavement is soaked up well, but larger bumps and dips can really jitter and jolt the car around.

  • "The real strength of the MX-5 isn't the engine or the transmission -- it's the setup. Much of the weight of the MX-5's engine is behind the front axles, with the goal of centralizing weight, which results in better balance. With mass and weight distributed equally from front to rear and from side to side, handling becomes much more precise and predictable. The MX-5 is very easy and fun to drive at any pace." -- Autotrader
  • "There's a token of give to the Miata's ride when it comes across bumps, but the ride is still very jittery. Quick, short body motions are present regardless of speed or surface. Of course, on a good day when you're enjoying the Miata's terrific agility you may not mind … but the Miata's ride will likely to take a toll on you at some point. If that's a deterrent, make sure you don't get the Club version with its stiffer suspension." -- Consumer Reports
  • "The Mazda MX-5 still offers some of the best driving feel on the road thanks to a balanced chassis and excellent handling." -- CNET (2019)
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2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata

MSRP: $26,580 - $34,750

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