What's New for 2013
The 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata receives a slight styling refresh up front along with a new Club trim that replaces last year's Touring model.
Musical tastes come and go with the seasons. You might have a favorite song of the moment, but inevitably, it gets overplayed and tired and you move on to the next. It's when you find the hit that stands the test of time that you know you have something special. The 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata, like that all-time favorite song, is that rare evergreen car that deserves a place on your permanent playlist.
In the 24 years since the Mazda Miata was first introduced, other two-seat roadsters have made their splash on the scene, then faded into history. The Miata has remained steadfast, due in no small part to its sporty driving dynamics that still serve as a benchmark for others. Steering is faultless, with an immediate and communicative nature that leaves the driver with zero guesswork. Handling is similarly intuitive and incredibly entertaining, especially on twisting mountain passes. It feels as though the car's controls are hard-wired to your brain.
That's really what roadsters are all about, supplying a lyrical youthful counterpoint to the everyday mode of transportation. The Mazda Miata supplies the archetypal open-top experience with the wind in your hair, all-around athleticism and an inspiring soundtrack from the engine and exhaust. What few faults that exist are minor and almost expected from the true roadster experience.
Just like the aforementioned favorite song, the 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata is unique and rare. There really aren't any two-seat roadsters that are either worth considering or anywhere close to the Miata's relatively affordable price. The convertible versions of the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500 have a charm all their own, but lack the kind of handling for which the Miata is renowned. Cross-shoppers may look at the Ford Mustang, but will quickly discover it is a different animal altogether. Lack of rivals aside, we're sure that if roadsters are your thing, you'll be singing the Mazda Miata's tune along with us.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a two-seat roadster that is offered in three trim levels: base Sport, the new Club and range-topping Grand Touring. All come standard with a manually operated soft top, while the top two trims can be had with a power-retractable hardtop (PRHT).
Standard features for the Sport trim include 16-inch alloy wheels, a vinyl convertible top with a glass rear window, foglights, air-conditioning, cloth seats, a height-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel, power windows and mirrors and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack.
The Club trim adds 17-inch wheels with high-performance tires, sporty front and rear fascia treatments, black exterior trim, a shock tower brace for the front suspension, a black cloth convertible top, cruise control, remote keyless entry, unique interior trim, a leather-wrapped shift knob, a trip computer and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.
The Grand Touring offers the choice of a black or beige cloth top and adds automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a seven-speaker Bose audio system with a six-CD changer and silver interior accents. The PRHT models are identically equipped.
Most options are grouped in packages. Sport models can be equipped with the Convenience package that includes most of the Club's upgrades (this package is standard in Miata Sport models with automatic transmissions). Club and Grand Touring models can enhance the Miata's already nimble handling with the Suspension package, which includes a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks and a limited-slip differential (only available with a manual transmission). The Grand Touring qualifies for the Premium package that features keyless ignition/entry, xenon headlights, Bluetooth and satellite radio.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering all 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miatas is a 2.0-liter inline-4 engine that produces 167 horsepower (158 with the automatic transmission) and 140 pound-feet of torque. Sport models come standard with a five-speed manual transmission, while Club and Grand Touring models come with a six-speed manual transmission. All models have the option of a six-speed automatic with shift paddles on the steering wheel.
In Edmunds testing, a Miata with a five-speed manual transmission sprinted from a standstill to 60 mph in a reasonably quick 6.9 seconds. Fuel economy is about average, with an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 25 mpg in combined driving for the five-speed manual. The six-speed manual drops slightly to 21/28/24 mpg while the automatic is rated at 21/28/23 mpg.
Standard safety features on all 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata models include antilock disc brakes, side airbags and stability and traction control. In Edmunds braking tests, various Miata models turned in stopping distances from 60 mph between 110 and 116 feet, which are very respectable numbers for a sports car.
Interior Design and Special Features
Average-sized drivers will find the 2013 Mazda Miata's cockpit on the snug side, but still very comfortable. Taller drivers will likely run out of legroom, though. The interior itself is rather basic in terms of design and materials with legible gauges and controls that are user-friendly and well-placed.
Those who choose the manual convertible top will appreciate its simplicity; all it takes is the push of a button and the tug of a lever to liberate the lightweight top from its moorings. It takes just a few seconds to lower the top, and raising it is just as quick and easy. With practice, some longer- and stronger-limbed drivers can raise the roof without even leaving the seat. With the power-retractable hardtop it takes a bit longer to transform from coupe to roadster, but the added convenience, noise isolation and security make it a good choice if you're using your Miata as a daily driver.
Convertibles are notoriously short on trunk space, and the Miata is no exception, but to its credit, the PRHT doesn't require any additional sacrifice. With just 5.3 cubic feet of total trunk space available for either hard- or soft top models, there's barely room for a light traveler's luggage and it takes some effort to get golf bags to fit ? if they fit at all. Points are also deducted for the disappointing stereo performance when the top is down. Even the upgraded Bose system suffers from poorly aimed and comparatively weak speakers that fail to fill the cabin with sound.
The Mazda Miata is legendary for its ability to squeeze maximum enjoyment from winding blacktop, and it owes much of this skill to the uncanny communicativeness of its steering and suspension. Experienced drivers might find the car's body roll to be excessive when driving hard around corners, but just about everybody else will enjoy the car's nimble handling. Overall, the 2013 Mazda MX5 Miata is one of the best-handling cars you can buy for the money.
The free-revving four-cylinder engine doesn't pack a whole lot of punch compared to some other sports cars, but it's always eager to play, and the short-throw manual gearbox simply is as good as it gets. On a daily basis, the Miata is easy to live with and comfortable for long stints in either top-up or top-down mode.