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2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Drivers’ Notes Review

On Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is nearly 30 years old. The current car — dubbed the ND — is in its fourth iteration and packs a number of updates for 2019, most notably a bump of 26 horsepower and 3 pound-feet over the 2018 model. The car now makes 181 horsepower at 7,000 rpm while redline has been raised to 7,500. That might not sound like a lot, but when you’re moving fewer than 2,400 pounds of steel, aluminum and plastic, it feels plenty strong.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Our test car was a Soul Red roadster with a brown top, an odd but striking combination. A power-retractable top is available as the Miata RF. This top-tier Grand Touring trim comes with features like automatic climate control, heated seats and leather seats. It might not be the most practical or versatile car on the road, but it might just be the most fun for the money.

Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: I was excited when I woke up to the Miata covered in snow in my driveway. After all, this tester came equipped with Bridgestone Blizzak winter tires. By the time I could pry myself away from my work and take the car for a spin, though, the snow had mostly melted. I still had fun flinging this around on the cold, wet roads.

The first thing I noticed was actually what I didn’t notice … I wasn’t wishing for just a little more power, for once. Chalk it up to the conditions, or to the extra 26 horsepower Mazda added for 2019, but this felt appropriately potent for once. If anything, it’s just enough to help get the rear end to wiggle a bit and the tires to more readily chirp in second gear. The Miata, fresh from the factory, has learned to do the cha-cha.

Associate Editor Reese Counts: I’ve spent a lot of time behind the wheel of various NDs over the past few years. The weekend I got married, my wife and I drove a Soul Red roadster from Los Angeles to San Francisco for a brief honeymoon. Months later, we took that same car for a 14-hour jaunt through Death Valley to see the superbloom. Everything about the car, from the slick short-throw shifter to the perfectly-weighted steering, feels perfectly balanced. It taught me a lot about driving dynamics and how to feel a car’s limits. It’s easy to get it to step out, but it’s just as easy to reel back in.

While I’ve never really been one to complain about a lack of power in the Miata, I’m certainly not going to complain about some extra breathing room up top. Mazda did it the right way, eschewing forced induction and keeping the four-pots’ sweet, linear power delivery. Turbos are great, but as more and more cars make use of them, I’ve come to have a heavy appreciation for naturally-aspirated engines.

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