Used 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review
Edmunds expert review
After 25 years, the 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata is still one of the best roadsters ever built, offering equal parts fun and refinement in a compact and affordable package.
What's new for 2015
The 2015 Mazda Miata has stood the test of time. While other small, affordable roadsters have come and gone, the Miata is still going strong. To commemorate the car's 25th anniversary, Mazda has introduced a special-edition car loaded with all the options. But even in base form, there is still a lot to love about the Miata.
Through the years, Mazda hasn't forgotten about the MX-5's primary mission: It is still a fantastic driver's car. It feels connected to the road thanks to a light, well-balanced chassis and plenty of steering feel. The Miata isn't all that powerful, but it is exceedingly fun to drive quickly, especially when you string together a series of corners. And thanks to the available retractable hardtop, the Miata is relatively comfortable and livable for daily commutes as well.
Of course, when you get a small two-seat roadster, practicality suffers, and that's the Miata's biggest drawback. If you're tall, getting comfortable inside could be a struggle. Long vacations may be difficult, too, as the trunk is laughably small and you'll have a hard time fitting anything more than a few small bags. Don't expect too many creature comforts on the inside, either. Even in Grand Touring trim, the Edmunds.com "B" rated Miata's interior is nothing special to look at and hard plastic surfaces are plentiful. Bluetooth is only available on the higher trim levels, and items like a USB input and navigation system aren't available at all. On the other hand, some buyers may appreciate the simplicity of this cockpit, and of course, some of these issues will be addressed in the redesigned 2016 MX-5 Miata.
As far as direct rivals go, Mazda's Miata competes in a segment of one. The 2015 Scion FR-S promises excellent driving dynamics, a bit more power and a low starting price, but it is still only available as a hardtop four-seat coupe. The Mini Cooper and Fiat 500 are available as convertibles and they're a bit better equipped than the Miata (and with two more seats), but neither is as much fun to drive.
While the hatchback and sedan segments are filled with picks for the shopper seeking a car that's both entertaining and supremely affordable, in the convertible segment, just one model fills the bill. A blast to drive and easy on the wallet, the 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata is the only choice for the shopper seeking a model that delivers budget-friendly, drop-top driving excitement.
Trim levels & features
The 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a two-seat roadster offered in four trim levels: base Sport, Club, Grand Touring and 25th Anniversary Edition. All come standard with a manually operated soft top as standard. A power-retractable hardtop (PRHT) is available as an option on the Club and Grand Touring models, and comes standard on the 25th Anniversary Edition model.
Standard features for the Sport trim include 16-inch alloy wheels, a cloth 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, sporty front and rear fascia treatments, black exterior trim, cruise control, power door locks, keyless entry, unique interior trim, a leather-wrapped shift knob, a trip computer and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. 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 the automatic transmission).
Further up the ladder, 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.
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 and entry, xenon headlights, Bluetooth phone connectivity and satellite radio.
The 25th Anniversary Edition Miata is essentially a PRHT Grand Touring model with the contents of Premium and Suspension packages equipped as standard, along with unique 17-inch wheels and upgraded leather upholstery.
Performance & mpg
Powering all 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miatas is a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder 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, Grand Touring and 25th Anniversary models come with a six-speed manual. All trim levels have the option of a six-speed automatic with shift paddles on the steering wheel, and all Mazda Miatas are rear-wheel drive.
In Edmunds testing, a 2015 Miata with a six-speed manual transmission sprinted from a standstill to 60 mph in a reasonably quick 6.8 seconds, and performance is no different with the optional power-retractable hardtop. Fuel economy is about average, with an EPA-estimated 25 mpg combined (22 city/28 highway) for the five-speed manual. The six-speed manual drops slightly to 24 mpg combined (21/28), while the automatic is rated at 23 mpg combined (21/28).
Standard safety features on all 2015 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 118 feet, which are respectable numbers for a sports car.
Overall, the 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of the best-handling cars you can buy for the money. If you've never owned a rear-wheel-drive car before, it's a great starting point. It's also comfortable and easy to live with whether you're looking to simply put the top down and cruise in the summer sun, or leave the top up and embark on a road trip.
The Mazda Miata's calling card, though, is its legendary handling. It can squeeze maximum enjoyment out of any section of winding blacktop, and it owes much of this skill to its communicative steering and well-sorted suspension. Expert drivers might find the car's body roll and stability control intervention to be excessive when pushing hard around corners, but just about everybody else will enjoy its tidy handling.
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. Additionally, the short-throw shifts and easy clutch action of the manual gearbox are sublime. A significant downside is the engine drone at highway speeds, and your tolerance for it may vary on longer journeys. Miatas with the hardtop are slightly quieter, but if you're looking for serenity, you may want to think twice about buying a roadster in the first place.
Average-sized drivers will find the 2015 Mazda Miata's cockpit on the snug side, but still very comfortable. Taller drivers will likely run out of legroom, as seat-track travel is limited. The interior itself is rather basic in terms of design and materials, but at least the gauges are very legible and the controls are user-friendly and well-placed.
Those who choose the manual convertible top will appreciate its ease of use; 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 their 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. With either top down, wind buffeting is impressively low even with the side windows down at 60 mph.
Convertibles are notoriously short on trunk space, and the Miata is no exception. 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 lack of a USB/iPod interface and unavailability of Bluetooth audio connectivity for either system are additional disappointments.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.