Mazda MX-5 Miata: The Car Connection's Best Convertible to Buy 2018

November 17, 2017

Convertibles usually are the auto industry paragons of bloatware. Cut down a coupe but add in more weight for bracing, throw in some leather, don't forget ventilated seats, and hey, how about a big engine to overcome all that added mass?

The Mazda MX-5 Miata chuckles at all that frippery as you chuck it into corners.

No one loves a ragtop Mustang or Camaro–or an AMG GT C for that matter–more than we do. For our personal best-choice convertible, for almost any road we can name, the Miata still rises to the top. That's why it's our Best Convertible To Buy 2018.

MORE: Read all about our Best Car To Buy 2018 awards

The pert, essential shape of today's Miata bowed in 2016 and hasn't changed since. Perfection lies a pair of pop-up headlamps away, at least to us, but the latest Miata has the right lithe lines and function-first cockpit we expect in a sensually motivated convertible.

Under the hood, a 2.0-liter inline-4 spins out 155 horsepower for predictable and smooth power through a 6-speed manual. There's a 6-speed automatic on the order sheet; if you must, its Sport mode should be your default.

The featherweight MX-5 Miata delivers unqualified joy with every forward rotation of its tires. It weighs just over 2,300 pounds in base trim, thousands of pounds less than any rival. It sticks, it moves, it hustles, it's in constant communication with the driver in a way that flatters both it and the person behind the wheel.

MUST SEE: Motor Authority's Mazda MX-5 Miata video road test

The soft-top Miata makes few concessions to daily driving, and yet it's comfortable for two full-size passengers, down to the finer details. A retractable hardtop Miata RF model looks fabulous and doesn't cost much in extra weight, but we prefer the one-hand fold-back fabric roof.

On the short list of dislikes, we'd put Mazda's infotainment system at the top. As jarring as it seems in a Miata, it's made worse by baffling layers of screens and a roller-controller knob. Trunk space is as small as you'd expect, and the cupholder that rides sidesaddle on the console is both flimsy and intrusive.

You'll forget all that when the top is down, and the Miata's nimble nature reveals itself with every mile. Everyone should drive one, and more of us should own one.

A note: Mazda hasn't confirmed specs for the 2018 Miata yet, but it's likely to carry over intact. Stay tuned for our first drive–and if it's not distinctive enough, don't forget that the Miata has kin in the form of the Fiat 124 Spider, which is mechanically related in many ways and built on the same platform.

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