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2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Test Drive Review

Following the launch of the fourth-gen (ND) Miata for 2016 and the hard-top Miata RF a year later, the changes made to the 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata are relatively minor but are no less impactful. All 2018 Miatas get a retuned steering and suspension setup and buyers can now opt for Recaro sport seats and some dynamite color combinations. These tweaks are sure to make enthusiasts love this little roadster even more, and we spent a week in the 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club to get a taste for ourselves.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Exterior

It’s not often that a new color combination makes news, but that is exactly the case with the 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata. The Miata we tested came in the newest combination consisting of Machine Gray Metallic paint (a $300 upcharge) and the Dark Cherry red soft top. The Machine Gray hue was introduced last year and limited to the Miata RF but is now available on the soft top, while the new red soft top gives the Miata Club and Grand Touring trim levels an option usually reserved for higher-priced convertibles like the Chevrolet Corvette.

Opting for the Club trim level brings a more racecar-like look to the Miata with an available appearance/aero package that includes a front air dam, side sill extensions, rear spoiler and a rear bumper skirt – all finished in black along with the mirror caps and windshield surround. The $4,470 Brembo/BBS Recaro Package adds the stylish forged 17-inch BBS wheels with a black finish, which really makes the red-painted brake calipers stand out.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Interior

While the exterior changes look exceptional, the changes made to the 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata were aimed at improving the overall driving experience. For starters, all Miatas now get the seven-inch touch screen Mazda Connect infotainment system, which can be operated using the seven-inch touch screen display when the car is at a stop or the rotary knob while at speed. The Club trim level adds standard heated cloth seats with red accent stitching, and it now offers Recaro sport bucket seats.

The new Recaro seats are part of the aforementioned Brembo/BBS Recaro Package – a similar package is carried over from 2017 but it is $1,000 less and swaps out the track-ready bucket seats for leather-wrapped seats. This tester was also equipped with the $425 Interior Package that adds alloy pedals, aluminum door sills and a red oil cap under the hood (hey, what’s not on the exterior is considered the interior, no?).

Even without these packages, the Miata’s cabin is perfectly laid out packing a lot of content into a small space. Door panels are usually an afterthought on most cars, but on the ND Miata, they are actually integral design elements with body-colored upper door trim (on the Club) and sharp lines you might expect to see on the exterior of some cars. Like the standard bucket seats on the Miata Club, these Recaros incorporate speakers into the headrests as part of the Bose nine-speaker audio system. Finally, there’s the roof. The soft top can be lowered or raised in just seconds with a single motion, and with the top up, the cabin is surprisingly quiet with decent headroom for anyone under 6’1”.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Powertrain

According to recent reports, we have another year to wait before the Miata gets any more power, but the current output is plenty for this little roadster. The 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G inline-four puts out 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, and the short-throw, six-speed manual transmission is the way to go. With this setup, the Miata has EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway**, and you don’t have to baby the gas pedal to get those numbers in real-world driving… even with some heavy acceleration sprinkled into the mix.

If you want to get the most enjoyable driving experience out of the 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata, then opt for the Club trim level with the manual transmission. This combination gets an exclusive setup that includes a sport tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks, shock tower brace under the hood and a limited slip differential. Revs are quick and the optional front Brembo brakes help bring the car to a quick stop, but as always, it’s the low-slung, well-balanced feel that makes this car – weighing in at just 2,332 pounds (as you see it here) – so much fun to drive.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Safety

The 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but all models come standard with safety features such as dual front and side impact airbags. Stepping up to the Club trim level adds a Blind Spot Monitoring system and the Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Overall

The Mazda Miata has stood the test of time outlasting many other small coupes and roadsters that have popped up over the years. With its small yet effective changes, the 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata has made the already-exciting Miata ND an even better car whether you’re looking for a fun daily driver, the ultimate track car or just a great weekend cruiser.

Best of all, you’re not going to find another car that is this much fun at such a low price. In base form, the 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata has a starting price of $25,295*, but if you want to get the new red roof or the Recaro seats, the Club trim level is the way to go. Even with the pricey Brembo/BBS Recaro Package, this 2018 Miata Club was still decently affordable with an as-tested price of $35,240.

Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Mazda dealership and test drive the 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata today!

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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