If you’re looking for affordable open-air fun combined with razor-sharp handling and a serious racing pedigree, look no further than the 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Now in its third decade of production and its third model generation, the MX-5 Miata has become one of the world’s truly iconic sports cars. Whether your preferences run towards top-down motoring at legal speeds or hot lapping at the local road course, the MX-5 won’t disappoint, and it’s fuel-efficient nature makes it an easy car to justify.
The third generation of MX-5 was introduced for the 2006 model year, and Mazda has tweaked its styling a bit in the years since. The current iteration, sporting a revised front fascia for the 2013 model year, is far less cartoonish than the car it replaces, and we say that’s a good thing. For 2013, buyers can choose between the base Sport model (which now comes standard with fog lights), the mid-range Club version (new for 2013) and the range topping Grand Touring model. Both Club and Grand Touring models are also available with a power-retractable hard-top, while Sport tim cars come only with a manually-folded vinyl roof.
All versions share the same engine, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 167 horsepower and mated to the buyer’s choice of six-speed manual (five-speed manual on Sport models) or six-speed automatic. Power is adequate but not exceptional, which has always been part of the MX-5’s appeal. Going fast in a Miata has always been about preserving momentum, and the current version is no exception to this rule. The engine is willing to rev, however, and makes usable torque at relatively low speeds, which makes the MX-5 a forgiving car to drive in traffic. Factor in its low weight (under 2,600 pounds), quick steering and near 50/50 weight distribution, and it’s easy to see why the MX-5 is so popular as a race car.
As you’d expect, the Mazda’s diminutive size comes with a few trade-offs. The cabin is best described as intimate, though far less so than on previous version of the car. It will now accommodate those taller than six feet (though not all that much taller), but leg room could still be an issue for those with longer inseams. Unlike other convertibles that gobble up trunk space when the top is folded, the MX-5 has the same amount of room with the roof up or down, even on retractable hard-top versions (which do lose just a bit of space compared to soft-top versions). In either version, two overnight bags will fit without much drama.
Mazda targets the base Sport model to buyers on a budget, or to those looking for a suitable starting point for a competition car, since it’s pointless to spend money on features that will only be removed in the interest of weight savings. It’s mainstream model is the new-for-2013 Club, which comes with unique graphics, badging and contrast stitching, as well as a firmer suspension than Sport models. Those looking for luxury amenities will be happiest in the Grand Touring trim, which comes with leather seating surfaces, heated seats, automatic climate control and an available Bose audio system. Oddly enough, Bluetooth phone integration is only available as part of an option package on Grand Touring models.
For a detailed look at the 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata, see our comprehensive review on The Car Connection