- Lithe and nimble handling
- Quick-shifting gearbox
- Zippy power thanks to light weight
- Available power-retractable hardtop
- Lack of crash-test data
- Smallish interior
- Small cargo space with hardtop
- Noisy on the highway
The 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata is the lightest, leanest sports roadster you can buy for small-time money today--and it has a rich history of happy owners.
Mazda’s MX-5 Miata has long been one of America’s favorite sports cars, and though the third-generation MX-5 has now been on the market for 8 model years, it’s still brilliant fun and good value. Over the 25 years since its introduction, the Miata has redefined simple, affordable, and fun-to-drive.
For the 2014 model year, Mazda carries forward unchanged aside from some new exterior color options.
That’s a good thing, however, as the MX-5 Miata, though showing its age as it enters its eight year of the third generation, is still a purist’s sports car in base form, and capable of surprising levels of luxury in Power Retractable Hard Top (PRHT)/Grand Touring form.
The exterior of the 2014 Mazda MX-5 is simple, composed of smooth curves and only minimal sculpting; it embodies the ethos of the car, with simplicity and straightforwardness at the forefront. Inside, it’s more of the same, with a simple horizontal dash and center stack of controls. The gauges sit pod-like in front of the driver, with clear read-outs and clean script.
Under the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata’s hood lies a 2.0-liter in-line four-cylinder engine rated at 167 horsepower when paired with either the base five-speed manual or optional six-speed manual transmission; the six-speed automatic reduces power output to 158 horsepower. With any transmission, torque output is 140 pound-feet. Both power and torque arrive rather high in the rev range, meaning the engine likes to be worked to produce the best results—just as a sports car should be.
While there are several trim levels, there are only two major types of MX-5: the folding soft-top roadster, or the PRHT hard-top convertible model. The PRHT adds a layer of sophistication and security to the car, improving all-weather comfort and giving the car a sleeker, more coupe-like profile with the top raised. The PRHT system packages neatly behind the passenger compartment, but it does add some noticeable weight—about 80 pounds over the soft top. Even so, the MX-5 weighs less than 2,600 pounds in any form, and as little as 2,447 pounds, giving the car a lithe and nimble character when pressed into sporting service.
On the open road, both models are comfortable and forgiving, with surprising head and leg room given the small and low exterior dimensions—even drivers over six feet will find (just) enough space. Road and wind noise can become evident, particularly at higher speeds, however, and you’ll find full-size SUVs look more like semi-trucks from the low-slung seats.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash tested the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Nevertheless, a strong complement of standard airbags, strong brakes, and the Miata’s innate handling in emergency maneuvers should inspire confidence in potential buyers.
Last year a new Club model was added to the MX-5 Miata range, and it continues for 2014, pairing the upgraded Suspension Package with the six-speed manual transmission, staking out a middle ground between base models and the Grand Touring top trim. Grand Touring models get leather trim, automatic climate control, and many other options—enough to feel rather luxurious. An available Bose audio system offers adaptive sound to compensate for extra wind noise when the top is down. If you must have Bluetooth connectivity, however, you’ll have to go for the Grand Touring—it’s the only trim that offers it.
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