2018 Mazda MX-5: Driving bliss with a cherry on top

    Posted by Wheels On Edge about 6 months ago
    Good things come in small packages. It’s a cliché, sure, but sometimes there’s a lot of truth to it. Case in point, the new Mazda MX-5. Currently in its fourth generation, this iteration of Mazda’s two-seat sports car has been on the market since 2015. While it still follows the same formula as all MX-5’s (formerly Miata) before it, this model has undergone some small, but notable changes which we think make a great car even better.

    Some tweaks to the suspension and steering have made the new MX-5 feel a little more responsive during cornering and more spirited driving and more comfortable in everyday use. The looks of the car are have remained unchanged – and we don’t mind at all, because the new MX-5 is stunning. The new Cherry Red top equipped on our tester is a welcome addition, adding a nice splash of colour and contrast. 
    Mazda also made improvements inside, most notably improving the NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness) reduction measures on the car. Sound isolation was enhanced in certain areas like the inner wheel housings, dashboard and transmission tunnel. Don’t expect the cabin to be whisper quiet. It’s still going to be louder than one might expect, but is still very good for this class of vehicle. As well, the interior received some upgrades, like improved gauge visibility and an upholstered surface on the sun visor. 

    As with the MX-5 RF we reviewed previously, the 2018 MX-5 is a joy to drive. A responsive, peppy engine, a slick 6-speed manual (automatic available at no cost) and handling characteristics that bring fun to the forefront almost make you forget how impractical the car is. With its two seats, tiny cabin and miniscule trunk space, the modern driver may struggle to get by day to day with an MX-5. But an MX-5 isn’t about day to day commuting. It’s about weekend fun, carving corners and no frills motoring. Mazda didn’t compromise on fun and kept the non-essential features and luxuries to a minimum. The advantages to this approach are very apparent once you get behind the wheel. We drove this latest MX-5 alongside its older “NB” generation and found the direct, more analog approach carried through from the older car to the new one. That’s not to say the new MX-5 feels old. It takes the best parts of the older car, but makes improvements where necessary. 
    Putting the top down on a sunny day can make even stop and go traffic more bearable and fun. Unless you’re behind a lifted pickup truck’s exhaust pipe. Still, it’s hard to beat the feeling of going topless. The visibility in the soft top MX-5 is much better than the metal-roofed RF. While its 2.0L 4-cylinder engine isn’t powerful on paper, it is incredibly peppy in the little MX-5. You don’t have to be fast to have fun in this car. 
    Small two-seat convertibles are a much rarer breed in modern motoring. Unlike, say, a crossover, you could probably count on one hand the amount of cars you can realistically group the MX-5 with. But among all its competitors, the MX-5 is arguably the purest. While the MX-5 starts on the lower end of the price range at $31,900, the price can quickly add up depending on your options. Our test car, with the optional red roof and white pearl finish ended up pushing the price to $39,900 before taxes and fees.
    We previously reviewed Mazda’s current MX-5 in the new Retractable Fastback (RF) form and found it to be one of the best deliverers of smiles per hour – driving pleasure, that is. Mazda calls it ‘Jinba Ittai’ – a Japanese term for the relationship that develops between a horse and its rider. Much like that relationship, driving the MX-5 is intended to feel like a natural extension. We loved the way the RF drove, but somehow, Mazda made the new 2018 MX-5 even better.

    Written by Shane Kalicharan
    Pictures by Kevin Wylie
    2018 Mazda MX-5, Miata, 50 years, car review

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