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A Major Perk of the Profession: The 2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata front 3/4 view

So, next month, I will have been either talking (on radio and TV) or writing (online and in print) about cars for 26 years. There are a lot of great things about doing that for (part of) a living. The people I've met---legends like the late Denise McCluggage, writers I've admired like Jean Jennings, neighbors who stop by on their walks to talk about what's in the driveway this week. The travel---though the day job prevents me from junkets, a yearly gathering of fellow Northern California automotive journalists for a day or two of driving great cars on great roads in Monterey or Half Moon Bay does not suck. And, of course, the cars. I'm fortunate enough to drive 104 new cars a year, give or take. But if you took 103 of them away (please don't) and all I got was a week in a Mazda MX-5 Miata once a year, I'd still consider myself a very blessed man.

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata rear 3/4 view

26 years, 26 Miatas, or pretty close to it. The problem becomes what to say that hasn't been said before in this review, or this one or this one or this one.

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata hood up

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata engine

For the uninitiated, under the hood of every new Miata lives a 2.0-liter dual overhead cam four-cylinder engine. No turbos, no wizardry...just a 181-horsepower engine that loves to rev in the engine bay of a car that weighs less than 2,400 pounds. That makes 60 miles per hour show up on the speedometer from a standing start in less than six seconds. The EPA estimates combined city/highway fuel economy of 29 miles per gallon. The six-speed is light, precise and tons of fun. If you can't drive stick, learn. It's not that difficult and it's rewarding---especially in this car. A Miata, on a winding two-lane, the top down with you choosing exactly the right gear for the moment, is the next best thing to a motorcycle in terms of connecting you with the road and the nature around you.

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata trunk open

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata front seats

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata interior

There are three ways to get the Miata roadster (there's also a retractable hardtop, the RF). The base model is the MX-5 Miata Sport, the cushy top-of-the-line is the Grand Touring and in between is the Club. That's our tester, with a base price of $32,615 including destination. The Club model is the most performance-focused, but because all Miatas have the same engine, the differences come in the wheels (17-inch metallic black alloy) and a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein dampers. There's also a front air dam, rear lip spoiler, rear bumper skirt and side sill extensions. While an automatic transmission is available in the Grand Touring, the Club is purely a six-speed manual. Mazda's consumer site says the Club model is purely build-to-order. Beyond those enhancements, the standard equipment list also includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and parking brake handle, a tilt/telescoping steering column, air conditioning, heated cloth-trimmed seats, keyless entry, a decent suite of active safety features (minus adaptive cruise control), and a nine-speaker audio system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata steering wheel and gauge cluster

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata center stack

Our tester had the Brembo BBS Recaro Package---Brembo front brakes with red front and rear calipers, BBS forged 17-inch dark alloy wheels and heated Recaro sport seats---for $4,500. The Snowflake White Pearl pain was $395. And that's it, bringing the bottom line on the window sticker to $37.510.

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata front view

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata side view

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata rear view

Are there drawbacks? Sure. Life with a Miata as your only vehicle would present some challenges. But if there's an empty space in your garage and in your driver's soul, a Miata is a great way to fill both.


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