2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Performance


#1 out of 8 in Sports Cars

$25,730 MSRP
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2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 9.3

Even with its power increase for 2019, the Mazda MX-5 Miata has less power than many other sports cars. Still, it's still just as fun to drive as any of them, if not more so. The Miata is quick off the line and one of the most fuel-efficient cars in the class. It handles unbelievably well, and it provides a generally comfortable ride.

  • "Adding power doesn't undermine the Miata's core mission of letting you drive the car to its limit, which is mercifully low enough to avoid a lasting jail sentence. Mazda added the power in a useful way and made the engine more efficient in the process. The higher engine redline makes the Miata feel like how it should have been built in the first place -- it just feels right." -- AutoWeek
  • "The Miata might not boast big power numbers, but it's small and light, so it always feels exceedingly nimble. You won't find many cars that put the driver more in touch with the driving experience or that are more entertaining to drive on public roads – especially the twisty ones." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "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 (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The biggest change the Miata sees for 2019 lies under the hood. Mazda dropped the old 155-horsepower four-cylinder engine, and now the Miata features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that puts out 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard, but you can opt for a six-speed automatic.

The extra power doesn't turn the Miata into a dragster, but the 2019 is noticeably quicker than the previous model. The engine delivers energetic acceleration, and there's enough power for any driving situation.

According to EPA estimates, the Miata gets 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission. With the automatic, the numbers are just barely better. Either way, this is one of the most fuel-efficient sports cars.

  • "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
  • "There are plenty of sports cars that are faster than a Miata (most of them, in fact), but the open-air cockpit, low-to-the-ground seating position, and agile handling make the Miata feel faster than it is. The horsepower infusion for 2019 helps as well. The torque curve feels meatier, and acceleration is a bit snappier all-around." -- Consumer Guide
  • " The acceleration is great. I'm talking about first-gear acceleration, of course, but I'm also talking about the acceleration in second and third gears at high revs, which is the most fun I've had in a car in 2018." -- Jalopnik

Handling and Braking

The Miata will delight drivers with its uber-agile handling and excellent balance, making it a perfect vehicle for aggressively tackling corners. Yet while some competitors provide sharp handling by making the suspension stiff to the point of discomfort, the Miata remains compliant and provides a smooth ride over most road surfaces.

The mid-level Club trim features some equipment for improved performance, including Brembo brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, Bilstein shock absorbers, and a limited-slip differential. Rear-wheel drive comes standard. All-wheel drive is not available.

  • "For Miata fans, the MX-5's suspension set-up happily remains the same. … The Miata's suspension is largely unchanged because it works. The refreshed Miata feels just as sure footed as ever. It's still softly sprung, so the body still leans into corners as lateral load builds. And you can expect dive when slamming on the brakes, too. But, all the reactions from the car come as you would expect." -- AutoWeek
  • "The Mazda MX-5 still offers some of the best driving feel on the road thanks to a balanced chassis and excellent handling." -- CNET
  • "Despite its small dimensions and sporty intentions, the Miata isn't punishing. There's plenty of compliance to smooth over bumps, but bigger potholes will send a good thud through the chassis. Long road trips won't be a problem." -- Edmunds (2018)
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