The Mazda Miata turns 30 years old this year, and in addition to the limited-production 30th Anniversary Edition, the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata is celebrating this big milestone with more power, more tech and more style. While we’ve already sampled the updated 2019 Miata RF with its power-retractable roof, this time around gave us seat time in the more traditional soft top version. For the third model year in a row, Mazda has made minor upgrades to the fourth-gen ND Miata in the hopes of making a great roadster even greater. For this test drive review, we hop behind the wheel of a 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring with the six-speed manual transmission.
2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Exterior
Replacing last year’s optional red-colored soft top, the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata gets a new brown soft top option as a $200 upgrade. It’s a dark brown material that looks almost black or grey in some lights, but it acts as a more subtle color combination than some other convertibles sporting brown/tan soft tops. This top adds a perfect amount of color to this tester’s Snowflake White paint (a $200 option) and the Grand Touring’s standard dark silver 17-inch, eight-spoke alloy wheels. The only visual distinction for the 2019 model year is the addition of a rearview camera in the middle of the rear fascia just above the license plate. This was necessary to meet new federal laws requiring all 2019 models come with backup cameras.
2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Interior
Following a host of interior upgrades for the 2018 model year, the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata gets a new tilt and telescoping steering column that is standard on all trim levels adding to driver comfort. For such a small car, the Miata opens up a surprising amount of legroom for its occupants and the Grand Touring trim levels packs a lot of content into a small space. Overall, the cabin is surprisingly quiet with decent headroom for anyone under 6’1”, and for unlimited headroom, the soft top can be lowered or raised in just seconds with a single motion.
The Grand Touring trim level brings heated leather seats, navigation, nine-speaker Bose audio system (including speakers incorporated into the headrests) and automatic climate control. All trim levels get the with Mazda Connect infotainment system with a seven-inch display that can be operated using touch screen functions when the car is at a stop or the rotary knob while at speed, but it lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability (unless you’re one of the 3,000 lucky buyers who opted for the 30th Anniversary Edition). For a little extra style, this tester came with the $425 Interior Package, which added alloy pedals, stainless door sill plates and a red oil cap to spruce up the engine compartment.
2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Powertrain
Anyone who has ever said that the new Miata (or pretty much any other current Mazda product) needs more power, probably hasn’t driven one. That being said, a little extra power never hurts, so Mazda retuned the Miata’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder to give it an output of 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque – that’s a power increase of 26 horsepower and 3 lb-ft of torque from 2018. This higher horsepower also peaks at a higher rpm (7,000 rpm vs. 6,000 rpm) and the redline has also increased from 6,800 rpm to a screaming 7,500 rpm. The best part about driving the Miata is its short-throw, six-speed manual gearbox.
To squeeze even more fun out of this roadster, the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata now offers a new GT-S Package. This $550 package brings the chassis upgrades of the Club trim level to the fully loaded Grand Touring model, which include a sport tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks, shock tower brace under the hood and a limited slip differential. The 2019 Miata Grand Touring weighs seven pounds (2,339-pound curb weight) more than the its 2018 counterpart, but you certainly don’t feel that while accelerating, braking or turning. After all, this car is only slightly heavier than the original Miata that came out 30 years ago, and it still low-slung, well-balanced feel.
With the manual transmission, the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata has EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway*, which is a 1 mpg highway improvement over the 2018 model year.
2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Safety
The 2019 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 and a rearview camera. Stepping up to the Grand Touring trim level adds standard features such as Blind Spot Monitoring system, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Control and Adaptive Front Lighting System. New for 2019, the Grand Touring also gets Smart City Brake Support (Mazda speak for forward collision warning with automatic braking) and Traffic Sign Recognition. These features are available on lower trim levels as part of the i-ActivSense packages.
2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Overall
Mazda has cornered the market for fun, small roadsters, but that doesn’t mean it’s about to let off the throttle. The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata proves that Mazda is still focused on the details that made this car such a hit 30 years ago, and this car is still a blast to drive; it’s kind of like that giddiness that you get when you bring out your old Matchbox cars and Legos and play with them as an adult. The Miata is still as fun and affordable as ever, too, with a starting price of $25,730**. Stepping up to the Grand Touring trim level and adding in this car’s performance and styling upgrades, you’re looking at an as-tested price of $33,050.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Mazda dealership and test drive the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2019 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.