The 1987 Chicago Motor Show was the stage for the world debut of the Mazda MX-5 Miata , with U.S. sales beginning in May of that year. The second generation bowed ten years later in October 1997 at the Tokyo Motor Show and the third generation made its first appearance at the Geneva Auto Show in March 2005. The fourth generation MX-5 Miata was unveiled simultaneously September 2015 in Japan, Spain and the U.S.
The 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata continues with Mazda’s full suite of SKYACTIV technology along with their KODO “Soul of Motion” design philosophy, retaining its iconic and genuine two-seat, rear-wheel drive roadster flavor and appeal.
Visual changes over the past several years had been very subtle at best with themed editions, special paint and trims. The Miata is now stunningly beautiful and presents an alluring face. It comes in three levels of trim, or in three different models if you will: the base Sport MX-5, the performance oriented MX-5 Club that’s expected to be the volume leader and the more luxurious Grand Touring with a top pf the line price tag.
All Mazda MX-5 Miata models are powered by a longitudinally-mounted 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G DOHC, 16-valve, inline four-cylinder engine with Direct Injection that makes 155 horses at 6,000 rpm, while developing 148 pound feet of torque at 4,600 rpm. Gearing the engine’s energy to the rear wheels is either a standard SKYACTIV six-speed manual transmission or Mazda’s SKYACTIV Drive 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters.
A roadster is by definition a convertible or open top vehicle, traditionally with a soft cloth top. In recent years, Mazda has offered a PRHT (Power Retractable Hard Top) for Club and Grand Touring models. The basic “Jinba Ittai” mission statement for the Miata, which translates as “the rider and horse as one” continues with this latest example.
The Miata’s design is a breath of fresh air over the earliest versions, featuring a long hood, abbreviated overhangs, a cropped cabin space that’s moved far back on the body and large wheels moved as far forward as is practical toward all four corners. The car is on a smaller scale than before with some styling cues that seem to display a European influence – the Jaguar F-Type comes to mind. The design team’s goal was to move forward, through modernization, but without sacrificing the car’s purity and heritage. The profile is low and aerodynamic, and the car is equally appealing with the top up or down. The manual cloth top is light and may be easily operated while seated in the car.
All of the Miata’s exterior panels except the windshield frame and doors are made of aluminum. Seats are constructed of a net and urethane seat material that replaces traditional springs.
COMFORT AND PERFORMANCE
The interior showcases a human-centric driving position, focused around the driver, with things like the pedal position optimized to fall in-line with the driver’s natural foot movement. The hood is low and the windshield A-pillars are upright and positioned aft for enhanced visibility. Exterior paint colors are brought into the door panels – all combining to provide a greater sensation of the outside world. Passengers have also been positioned inboard to feel in-line with the center of the vehicle, but passenger space can be tight for those 6’4” or more.
My test 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata during was a Club model with a manual gearbox, a Machine Gray metallic exterior, and a Black interior with Red stitching The base price was set at $29,155., which rose to $35,240. after adding for the metallic paint, the Brembo brake, forged BBS wheel and Recaro Package, Interior Package and Destination and Handling charge. Sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks, a shock tower brace, front and rear stabilizer bars, a limited slip differential, 17-inch wheels and tires, and a front air dam and rear deck lid lip spoiler were all standard fare.
SUMMARY: The new 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club is highly successful as an affordable, fun-to-drive pure roadster thanks to its Kansei engineering, which concentrated on understanding how the car feels through the driver’s sense of touch, how it sounds at speed, and how it looks with the top stowed, rather than focusing on zero-to-60-mph acceleration figures.
This latest Mazda MX-5 Miata has lost absolutely none of its appeal, regardless of the model chosen. The diminutive roadster ranks in an elevated status across the board, and the manual gearbox delivers an unquestionably positive response to the driving experience.
Acceleration may not seem blistering to some, but is certainly quick enough to provide a heightened level of driving fun. When prodded in a spirited manner the engine’s growl is pleasing enough, and doesn’t register as offensive at all. but a heightened, throatier note from the exhaust would surely generate even wider smiles and perhaps even a little LOL. Handling is crisp and precise with pleasing throttle steer properties, and the car exhibits an excellent front to rear balance.
My only negative issue arose when riding as a passenger, as the co-pilot’s space is tight for my 6’4” frame. The driver’s side posed no problem.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata remains a true sports car with heart still reflecting Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” spirit. For most fans, it will always be a Miata, (MX-5 or not). Kudos for the genuine sports car feel and looks as well as the easy to operate manual top. Essentially, the 2016 MX-5 Miata Club roadster is race ready off the showroom floor once you add a roll bar and five-point harness to meet sanctioned racing requirements.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Mazda MX-5 Club
Base Price: $29,155.
Price as Tested: $35,240.
Engine Type and Size: 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G DOHC, 16-valve four-cylinder with VVT and electronically controlled fuel Injection.
Horsepower (bhp): 155 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 148 @ 4,600 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed SKYACTIV-MT (Manual) with short throw shifter.
Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / Rear-Wheel Drive with torque-sensing differential.
Suspension: Front -Double wishbone with aluminum control arms, Bilstein monotube dampers, shock tower brace and stabilizer bar.
Rear – Multilink with aluminum bearing support, Bilstein monotube dampers and stabilizer bar.
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (Brembo vented front), ABS, EBD and BA.
Tires: Bridgestone Potenza 205/45 R17 84W mounted on 8-“Y”-spoke BBS Gloss Black alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 90.9 inches
Length Overall: 154.1 inches – without license plate holder
Width: 68.3 inches
Height: 48.8 inches
Curb Weight: 2,332 lbs.
Turning Circle: 30.8 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 11.89 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 26 mpg city / 33-mpg highway MT / 27, 36 AT
Drag Coefficient: Not listed.
0 – 60 mph: Not tested.
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.