2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review

Lithe and modernized, the Miata will appeal to sports car purists and digital-age denizens alike.
4.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Will Kaufman
Edmunds Editor

After last year's full redesign, the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata doesn't receive many changes, but it didn't really need any. The latest MX-5 boasts a modernized equipment roster, including an available infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen and an interior trimmed out with high-quality materials. But while other cars tend to get heavier as they're given more equipment, extensive weight-saving efforts mean this generation of Miata is the lightest since 1997. Mazda appears to have achieved the impossible, having built a new Miata that's at once more elemental and more advanced than the previous-generation car.

It's not just hype, either — the Miata is as good as advertised. Like every MX-5 before it, the 2017 model is best when the road turns twisty. It zips around turns with an enthusiasm few other cars can match, and the efficient four-cylinder engine makes enough power and sound to keep the good times rolling. The new Miata is still at its best with the manual transmission, but an automatic is available, of course, as is an unprecedented selection of creature comforts and safety technologies. Put it all together and you're looking at a unique two-seater that should appeal to sports car purists and digital-age denizens alike.

Naturally, certain compromises are required when you drive a Miata. Trunk capacity is minimal, and there's not much space to spare in the intimate cabin either, whether for passengers or personal items. There's also ample road and wind noise at speed with the top up. And if you wind the engine up past 6,000 rpm, you might notice that it gets a little rough.

Few cars are more focused than the Miata. Mazda set out to make a small, fun-to-drive roadster, and it compromised very little in achieving its vision. This generation of Miata is not just great fun; it's more premium-feeling — and easier to live with day to day — than it's ever been before, but it is still unapologetically a small roadster.



what's new

The big news for 2017 is the introduction of the Mazda MX-5 Miata RF, with a folding hardtop. The only update to the Miata soft top after last year's full redesign is the addition of blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert to the Club trim.

we recommend

The 2017 Miata is a great value at any trim level. But if you're having a hard time choosing, go with the Club trim. It's the purest distillation of the car and still offers a good mix of modern conveniences. The Club offers upgraded suspension dampers and more aggressive styling than the Sport, plus a limited-slip differential. It also includes the infotainment system with smartphone connectivity from the Grand Touring, without the added cost of leather and added weight of extra sound-deadening. Upgraded brakes and keyless entry and start are available as add-ons for the Club.




trim levels & features

The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a two-seat roadster offered in three trim levels: Sport, Club and Grand Touring. All three trim levels are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque and powers the rear wheels through either a manual or optional automatic transmission. The Sport trim offers a stripped-out, bare-bones motoring experience. The Club is for sport-oriented driving, with a number of mechanical upgrades and added interior features. The top Grand Touring trim focuses on providing comfort and technology materials.

Standard features for the Sport trim include 16-inch alloy wheels, a manually retractable black soft top with a glass rear window, LED headlights and taillights, air-conditioning, push-button ignition, a height-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power accessories, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.

The Club trim comes with different equipment depending on the chosen transmission. With the manual shifter, it includes a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, a shock-tower brace, a limited-slip differential and an engine sound enhancer, but opting for the automatic negates these features. All Club models get 17-inch wheels with summer performance tires, a sport front fascia, a rear lip spoiler, piano-black mirror covers and roll hoops, red interior stitching, upgraded interior trim panels, a nine-speaker Bose audio system (with headrest speakers, satellite radio and HD radio, and dual USB ports), voice controls, and a 7-inch touchscreen interface with an auxiliary control knob mounted on the center console. For 2017, the Club also gets a safety-oriented bundle that includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning, which was previously exclusive to the Grand Touring.

The Grand Touring loses the manual-transmission Club's performance upgrades (except the sound enhancer, which remains a manual-only feature), but it gets adaptive headlights with automatic high-beam control, auto-dimming mirrors with exterior heating, body-color mirror covers, automatic wipers, a cloth-lined top, leather upholstery, heated seats, automatic climate control and a navigation system.

Note that the optional automatic transmission comes bundled with keyless ignition and entry, which is a separate option across the lineup on manual-transmission models. A Brembo/BBS package is offered on manual-transmission Club models, and it includes 17-inch forged BBS wheels and more powerful Brembo front brakes.



trim tested

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Convertible (2.0L inline-4 | 6-speed manual | RWD)

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Miata is essentially unchanged. Our findings remain fully applicable to this year.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.5 / 5.0

Driving

5.0 / 5.0

Acceleration4.5 / 5.0
Braking4.0 / 5.0
Steering5.0 / 5.0
Handling5.0 / 5.0
Drivability5.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort5.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration3.0 / 5.0

Interior

3.0 / 5.0

Ease of use4.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5.0
Roominess3.0 / 5.0
Visibility5.0 / 5.0
Quality4.0 / 5.0

Utility

2.5 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.0 / 5.0
Cargo space2.0 / 5.0

Driving

edmunds rating
The Miata may not boast big power numbers, but it's small and light so it always feels exceedingly nimble. You won't find many cars that put the driver more in touch with the driving experience or that are more entertaining to drive on public roads — especially the twisty ones.

Acceleration

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In our testing, a Miata with the manual transmission reached 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. You won't be blowing doors off V8 Camaros, but it's nonetheless appropriate acceleration for the car's zippy character. There's plenty of midrange torque. Accelerating quickly is as pleasurable as it is easy.

Braking

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Our test car stopped from 60 mph in 111 feet, which is slightly longer than we'd expect given that it had the optional Brembo brake package installed. The distances and pedal firmness remained consistent, though, and it remained composed in full-panic braking.

Steering

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Steering effort is lighter than we're used to from a Miata, and feedback is a little muted, too. Even still, it remains one of the best steering examples available today. It reacts with immediacy and is very accurate. The steering wheel feels perfectly shaped in your hands.

Handling

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Few cars feel more light and nimble than the Miata. Precise and predictable are the operative words here. There's more body roll than expected when cornering aggressively, but overall driving a Miata along a curvy road is an absolute blast.

Drivability

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Even though the Miata is capable of entertaining performance, it is still easy to drive in everyday commuting situations (yes, even with a manual). The small footprint is well-suited to tight city confines and parking spaces.

Comfort

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Two-seat roadsters aren't known for being comfortable, but the Miata bucks that trend with compliant suspension tuning and seating for the long haul. There's a noticeable amount of noise, but for some, that's part of the allure.

Seat comfort

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The seats cradle occupants with just the right amount of support. Side bolsters provide ample lateral support without being intrusive. After hours of driving, you should still be pretty comfortable.

Ride comfort

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Despite its small dimensions and sporty intentions, the Miata isn't punishing. There's plenty of compliance to smooth over bumps, but bigger potholes will send a good thud through the chassis. Long road trips won't be a problem.

Noise & vibration

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Road and wind noise is prevalent at highway speeds with the top up, but not to the point that it's intrusive. The pleasant exhaust tenor is loud enough to make it sound special, but not so loud that it's obnoxious.

Climate control

The Miata's simple climate control interface, with its three large and knurled knobs, is easy to use. However, the system has trouble regulating temperature with the top up, especially on very hot or very cold days.

Interior

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The Miata's interior is well-crafted with a pleasing design. But the driving position isn't the best, and there's the typical drawbacks inherent with a small car like this.

Ease of use

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The primary controls are well-placed around the driver, and the gauges are easy to read. But the infotainment system's controller knob is located in a spot where the driver may place his/her right forearm and doesn't fall readily to hand.

Getting in/getting out

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The average-size adult will have no problem slipping in and out. Taller drivers will have to curl themselves through the opening if the top is up. Short doors aid access in tight parking spots.

Roominess

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Six-foot-tall drivers will reach the size limitations of head- and legroom. Even for the typical adult, the cockpit is snug enough to feel as though you're wearing the car. It doesn't feel claustrophobic, though.

Visibility

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Forward visibility is as good as it gets nowadays, thanks to favorable windshield positioning and narrow roof pillars. As small as the car is, there's very little guesswork with rear visibility, too.

Quality

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The interior materials have improved significantly from the last Miata and now meet the standards for this price point.

Convertible top

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The manual cloth top drops quickly and easily without leaving your seat, but requires a final push to latch in place. Deploying it is easier than in previous Miatas thanks to some assistance from lifting springs. Buffeting is not excessive.

Utility

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A tiny trunk, no backseat and limited cabin space mean that this isn't the best if you need to haul larger items. Small items are more easily accommodated.

Small-item storage

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The tidy bin between the seats serves as a less convenient glovebox (because there isn't one). It's your primary place to store your items, and it holds an average amount of stuff. That's helpful because the removable cupholders are good for holding cups only.

Cargo space

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A significant drawback. The Miata's 4.6-cubic-foot trunk is comically small, and there's no glovebox. There are small bins behind the seats and other pockets are tiny. The removable cupholders can obstruct shifting.

Technology

In Club and Grand Touring trims, the Miata comes with an easy-to-use infotainment interface. There's also a respectable amount of advanced driver safety aids. The sound system's quality, however, is unimpressive.

Audio & navigation

Mazda's infotainment system is easy to navigate and use, but even with the nine-speaker Bose stereo upgrade, the sound quality is only middling and is easily overwhelmed by wind and road noise.

Smartphone integration

The Miata does have two USB ports but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The 12-volt outlet is inconveniently hidden deep in the passenger footwell.

Driver aids

Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning now come standard on most Miatas. Frontal collision warning isn't available, though.

Voice control

As long as the cabin isn't too noisy, voice recognition is accurate, and on-screen prompts simplify use. Using voice commands to enter an address is as easy as with any other system.

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.