- Light and lean
- A visual knockout
- Stays true to its pure driving ethos like few other cars
- RF provides all-weather comfort and security
- Just powerful enough
- Little room for small and large item storage
- Price can climb fast
- Challenging infotainment system
The 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata is the quintessential modern sports car.
The 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata is the most traditional sports car available today. With its nimble handling, frisky feel, Italian-inspired design, and reasonable fuel economy, its only compromises are those expected from a sports car in the vein of MGBs and Triumphs: utility and relatively limited safety features.
The 2018 Miata scores a 6.6 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Entering its third model year since its last redesign, the MX-5 Miata gains a new red soft top option and is available with pricey, body-hugging Recaro seats. Miatas are available in Sport, Club, and Grand Touring configurations in either full roadster or retractable roof RF configurations.
It’s worth noting that the MX-5 Miata provides the basis for the Fiat 124 Spider. That Italian-Japanese roadster has its own exterior styling and uses a smaller, but slightly more powerful turbo-4 engine. It’s a hoot to drive, but it lacks the Mazda’s precision and refinement.
Under the hood of all Miatas is a relatively pedestrian 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine rated at 155 horsepower. But with a curb weight of about 2,300 pounds to start, the Miata sprints to 60 mph in just 6 seconds. A choice of 6-speed automatic and manual transmissions lets buyers tailor their Miatas for touring or for track use. We prefer the stick, but the automatic works well in Sport mode.
The Miata’s dynamics are among the best you’ll find at any price and they’re a reminder that sports cars need not be punishing to be a joy on a curvy road. The Miata leans into a curve, takes a set, and then slices through predictably. Its ride is firm, but not unduly so.
Inside, the Miata has room for two and a trunk for a couple of overnight bags, but it’s hardly a practical car. The RF isn’t just stylish: it’s stiffer and it’s quieter than the soft top.
No longer is the Miata a back-to-basics droptop. Base models are hardly luxurious, but the automaker fits a 7.0-inch infotainment system as standard equipment this year that joins LED headlights, keyless ignition, cloth upholstery, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Optional on the Club model for 2018 is a package that pairs Brembo front brakes with BBS brakes. That package can be further upgraded with new heated Recaro sports seats.
Not surprisingly, the Miata’s fuel economy is impressive for a sports car at as much as 29 mpg combined.