2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata
2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata
The Mazda MX-5 is a two-seat roadster with few compromises for convenience. It’s light and visceral, quick and nimble, and most of all, it’s fun.
For 2022 it’s been bettered with standard torque vectoring, which uses electronic sensors to dab the brakes on the inside rear wheel in corners, for more grip and stability.
It comes as a roadster with a standard manual soft top (black only), or in two models with a power hard top that can be raised in a cloudburst in a traffic jam (it takes 13 seconds).
The MX-5 rides low to the ground, and is rear-wheel drive which enables it to have perfect balance, 50/50 front/rear. Its 2.0-liter inline-4 engine has been gradually creeping up in power, now making 181 horsepower. With an independent suspension on both ends, and a super-smooth 6-speed gearbox, it’s the real deal. There are other sports cars out there, more expensive, but none of them feel as pure as the MX-5 Miata.
The MX-5 is EPA rated at 26 mpg city, 35 highway, 29 combined. With the available 6-speed automatic transmission it gets pretty much the same: 26/35/30 mpg,
It hasn’t been crash tested. Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking up to 20 mph, blind-spot monitors and lane-departure warnings.
Made in Japan, the MX-5 comes as Sport, Club and Grand Touring.
The Sport starts at $28,315 and comes with the 6-speed gearbox, Bluetooth, 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel,
and LED headlights and taillights.
The Club starts at $31,815 and makes the Apple CarPlay wireless, while adding a Bose 9-speaker sound system with 9 speakers including in the headrests. Upgrades include black alloy 17-inch wheels, tidy spoiler on the rear deck, Bilstein shocks braced in front by steel towers, and a limited-slip rear differential. The hard top only comes in an option package that includes Recaro seats, BBS wheels and Brembo brakes; by that time the price is up at $39,565.
The Grand Touring makes the 6-speed automatic transmission available, starting at $33,315 for the roadster and $36,365 for the hard top. It adds adaptive headlights and automatic high beams.
The MX-5 boasts a beautiful design, with its long hood, lovely aerodynamic curves over its shoulders, and tidy deck with round LED taillights. The hood slopes steeply down to a grille that looks like a smile, with LED headlights.
Even with the standard 16-inch alloy wheels, the wheel wells look full and compliment the low, wide stance. The available 17-inch wheels in titanium look even better.
The soft top comes in black only, no tan or coffee color like you might find on a luxury roadster. The hard top is body-colored on the Grand Touring, or black when it comes with the Recaro BBS Brembo package on the Club, with bright red brake calipers on all four wheels.
The cabin is minimalist, with black cloth seats and soft-touch surfaces. The manual seats are low, with fairly comfortable long bottom cushions, but they aren’t really enough for wide hips, and a long-legged driver will have to compromise comfort. It helps to take out the removable cupholders. There’s a space behind the center armrest for bottles.
Not surprisingly, the hard top makes the cabin quieter than the soft top. Rain on the soft top sounds either loud or cool, depending on how much you like the sound of falling rain. With the top down, buffeting from the wind is reduced by a screen between the headrests, which is effective enough for the occupants to talk without shouting. The downer is the 7.0-inch touchscreen, whose icons are tiny and troublesome. It works via a rotary controller.
The Miata has a sports car trunk, with only 4.6 cubic feet of cargo space. Rearward vision is very good with the soft top raised, and less good with the hard top.
One great thing about the MX-5 is that on winding roads (or track days), it can run with cars having much more horsepower. And it’s not hard to find those cars, as the Miata’s 2.0-liter engine only makes 181 horsepower and an even lighter 151 pound-feet of torque. But its dynamics make up for that. The redline of 7,200 rpm pounds a driver’s heart and stirs his or her soul. The MX-5 simply feels like it’s going a lot faster than it might be, in a good way.
A 6-speed automatic transmission is available, and it might be tempting because you can still feel the wind in your hair and get much of what the MX-5 offers, but the 6-speed brings it all. The shifts are short and tight, and the clutch action is just right.
It isn’t too extreme of an exaggeration to say the handling is magic. The steering is direct, which you can feel as the rear end rotates in corners, especially with the optional limited-slip rear differential. The twin-wishbone front suspension, and multi-link rear have aluminum components that reduce weight which increases quickness.
The upgrade for 2022 is torque vectoring. Using electronic sensors, the system pulses the brakes on the inside rear wheel in a corner, and that keeps the tire firmly planted, which keeps the weight from shifting to the outside. Mazda says it “enhances the limited-slip effect,” and we’ll take their word for it, as we eagerly await the opportunity to get this system on a track.
Like the sports car it is, with a short wheelbase and firm shocks, the Miata feels the bumps on rough pavement. But we’d still call the ride compliant, for what the car is and for what it can do.
The 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata has no peers, not in handling and balance, not in affordability at the base level, and especially not in fun. Base models have all the fun—and the best value.
—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection