New 2018 Mazda MX5 Miata Convertible New 2018
Mazda MX5 Miata Convertible

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

The world’s best-selling sports car, the 2018 Mazda MX-5 is an affordable, rear-wheel-drive 2-seater that’s pure joy to drive. Available as a roadster or a coupe with a retractable roof panel, the new Mazda MX-5 in now in its fourth generation and competes with the Fiat 124, Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ and the V6-powered Nissan 370Z. Small, light and often referred to as the Mazda Miata, the MX-5 is nimble, quick and always ready for a drive up the coast or a blast on your favorite mountain road. Top down, of course. Prices start around $26,000 for the Miata Soft Top and around $32,500 for the MX-5 RF, which stands for Retractable Fastback. Both come standard with one of the best 6-speed manual transmissions in the business, but an automatic is available.

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You'll Like This Car If...

You’ll like the 2018 Mazda Miata because it’s cute, affordable and fun and you believe the journey is just as important as the destination. You buy this little sports car because you want it, not because you need it, and you’ll enjoy every minute you spend behind its leather-wrapped steering wheel.

You May Not Like This Car If...

For some the 2018 Miata is just too small and its 155 horsepower doesn’t pack enough of a punch. That’s why the world has Ford Mustangs and Chevy Camaros, two larger performance cars with back seats and optional V8s with gazillions of horsepower. The Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 twins split the difference with tiny back seats and 205 horsepower.

What's New for 2018

For 2018, the Mazda Miata Soft Top’s available Brembo/BBS Recaro package now adds heated Recaro sport seats in addition to the Brembo brakes and BBS wheels. Also, buyers can choose between a black top or a new Dark Cherry soft top, and the Mazda Connect infotainment system is now standard on the base Sport model. The Miata RF Club gets standard heated seats, and the RF models with manual transmissions get standard keyless entry.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

It’s best to get out on the road early, after the sun breaks the horizon, but before the throngs of SUVs create the inevitable clog and clutter. Put the top down. Feel that sun on your face and the warm breeze on nape of your neck. The Mazda MX-5 Miata has never been about gobs of power that enable it to drag-race. This Mazda's magic lies not in straight lines, but when the road twists and turns. That's when this rear-wheel-drive 2-seater is at its best, or when simply cruising along a coastal highway. The Mazda’s 155 horsepower doesn’t sound like much, but the 2.0-liter engine loves to rev and its output is more than enough in this lightweight little roadster. Wring its neck and zip through the gears of the Miata’s tight 6-speed manual transmission and it will hit 60 mph in about six seconds. The steering is quick, with plenty of feel, and the roadster’s suspension offers plenty of cornering grip while maintaining a civilized ride.

Favorite Features

ADAPTIVE FRONT LIGHTING SYSTEM
This available system actually turns the sports car’s headlights as you turn the steering wheel, helping you see better around turns at night. The Miata’s headlights pivot as much as 15 degrees, which doesn’t sound like much, but it makes all the difference when you’re attacking a dark twisty road.

REAR CROSS-TRAFFIC ALERT
Small roadsters like the 2018 Mazda Miata don’t have great rear visibility when the top is up. Backing out of a parking space can be treacherous, so we recommend the Miata’s available cross-traffic alert system, which warns you audibly and visually if a vehicle or pedestrian is approaching from either side.

Vehicle Details

Interior

The 2018 Mazda MX-5 roadster has a simple, straightforward and modern interior. It's similar to the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback, with an upright infotainment screen on the dash, a push-button start button, and a surprising amount of soft-touch materials. Mazda says it literally designed the car around the driver, and the MX-5 offers excellent steering-wheel, pedal and shifter placement, though we wish the steering wheel telescoped in addition to tilting. Despite the small size, it's surprisingly accommodating for tall drivers, offering good headroom. There's even a usefully sized trunk, but as with the previous-gen model, interior space is at a premium.

Exterior

After three generations of much of the same, Mazda’s designers had a little bit more fun with the styling of this latest 2018 MX-5 Miata. The profile keeps the classic long-hood/short-deck proportions, but the intricate surfacing of the panels is far more modern, and its flared wheelwells, squinted LED headlights and wide-mouth grille give it some attitude. Not too much. It’s still kinda cute and at only 154 inches long it remains quite small. With its top in place, the MX-5 RF is a sleek coupe, but don’t let those windows in the RF’s B-pillar fool you; they’re fakes. And with the power-operated center panel tucked away, it looks like nothing else new on the road outside of a Porsche 911 Targa.

Notable Standard Equipment

The 2018 Mazda Miata lineup is divided into three different models for the standard convertible -- Sport, Club and Grand Touring -- while the new MX-5 RF retractable fastback is divided into two -- Club and Grand Touring. All Miata convertibles come with LED headlights, push-button ignition, air conditioning, power windows and the world's easiest-to-use folding cloth top. It’s manual, but you can raise or lower it from the driver’s seat. Also standard is a 6-speed manual transmission. The 6-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system includes Bluetooth and a USB input. Cruise control is also standard, and the little steering wheel is packed with audio and cruise-control buttons. This year the Mazda Connect infotainment system has been made standard on the base Sport model.

Notable Optional Equipment

While even a base 2018 Mazda Miata is a hoot, we recommend stepping up to the Club trim, which nets extra amenities and safety features, including blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and a Bose premium audio system with HD Radio and a secondary USB audio input. Manual-transmission versions come with a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks and limited-slip differential. Grand Touring models get leather upholstery, navigation, rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated seats, and lane-departure warning. A 6-speed automatic transmission is optional on all versions. Club models can be equipped with higher-performance Brembo brakes, BBS wheels and leather Recaro seats for an additional $3,400.

Under the Hood

The sole engine in the new 2018 Mazda MX-5 is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 155 horsepower. It comes standard with a slick 6-speed manual transmission, and even if you don't know how to drive stick, it's worth learning just so you can enjoy this one. The action is light, the shifts are short, and the clutch operation is simply spot-on. If you must, a 6-speed automatic is available; unfortunately, it adds a notable amount of weight, and despite the manual-shift mode, we still think it's worth getting the manual. Either way, you'll fill this sports car with premium unleaded, but with up to 35 mpg on the highway, you won't do it often.

2.0-liter inline-4
155 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
148 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/33 mpg (manual), 26/35 mpg (automatic)

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Pricing Notes

Yes, you can put a price on fun, and we're happy to report it's within reach. A base 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $26,000 including an $875 destination fee for a manual-transmission Sport model. Mid-trim Club versions start higher at about $29,500, while the Grand Touring model begins around $31,000. The new Mazda MX-5 RF starts just over $32,000, while a Grand Touring RF goes for around $33,500. An automatic transmission adds roughly $700 to $1,500, depending on model. The MX-5's closest rival, the MX-5-based Fiat 124 Spider, has more classical looks and a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine. The Fiat starts just slightly higher at about $26,000. Though somewhat apples and oranges, a Mini Convertible starts at about $27,000, while a Toyota 86 coupe begins just over $27,000. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying. The MX-5's resale value is expected to hold up well.

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