The Mazda's MX-5 Miata roadster, now in its third generation, is the most popular roadster in the world. The "Club" trim is the newest variant, with black wheels, mirrors graphics and some interior tweaks, but it remains devoid of any luxury features such as leather, satellite radio or a retractable hardtop found at the top end of the MX-5 lineup. It eschews the niceties to allow you to focus on what has always made the Miata formula work well: Driving.
What's under the hood?
A 2.0L inline-four making 167 horsepower. It's linear and surprisingly torquey — and has no problems moving the sub-2,500-lb. roadster.
• We've spent some time in earlier Miatas, and it's remarkable they've been able to retain the distinctive 'Miata feeling', despite traction control, wider tires and weight-adding safety and emissions regulations.
• The manual transmission has such a natural feeling clutch that the gearbox isn't even a hassle in stop and go traffic. It quickly becomes second nature — almost zero effort required.
• Hyper responsive and free-revving.
• Though it never feels that fast, the engine revs quickly and sounds great.
• More body roll than you'd expect, but it's part of the car's character. A little bit of roll on turn-in, but it settles and stays firm after the initial roll.
We love the red on black combo, and the visual updates to the somewhat-aging third-generation MX-5 have made it look sharper and meaner.
Not much to speak of, although the ride quality is remarkably good. The basic soft top does a fine job of blocking out noise and climate, though we rarely had the top up.
Not much of this either, but enough room in the trunk for a weekend. Probably.
In most cars, you're shielded from the cars limits — behind noise cancellation, wide tires, and often times un-defeatable traction and stability control systems. Anyone can jump in and go quickly and absurd levels of grip mean you never get close to the edge. The Miata, on the other hand, invites you to the edge. There's nothing like it.
One of the most critical points of contact to the car — the shift knob — feels cheap and unpleasing. And why the unnecessary dual exhaust tips in a car where every extra ounce of excess weight is removed? Because marketing.
We're totally on board with the minimal interior, but would a place to stash our sunglasses be too much to ask for?
We saw 25 mpg average, which syncs up with the EPA's 21 city/28 highway rating.
How much does it cost?
MSRP for the MX-5 Club (with zero options as tested) is $27,500.
As much as we geek out new convenience features and grow accustomed to luxury amenities when they are released, it takes something like the spartan MX-5 to make you truly appreciate their absence. There's so little hype around it, you may have even forgot it was still around. But Mazda's brilliant, overlooked roadster is still one of the only cars out there that can change the way you think about driving.
How we'd buy it:
A power retractable hard top is available for an extra $1,500, but we'd skip it unless we were in a colder climate. Most of the late-model MX-5s are in subdued metallic tones — we say go for the Crystal White Pearl or True Red and stand out from the crowd.