2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Manual Review

Since its inception, the Mazda Miata, and now the MX-5 has established itself as a driver's car. A nimble rear wheel drive vehicle equipped with a peppy engine and a crisp manual transmission is enough to put smile on your face. But Mazda has done much more to make the MX-5 truely special.

The 2019 MX-5 is in its 4th generation. Following the debut of the soft-top model in 2015, the MX-5 now has a hard top version, the MX-5 RF. I am lucky to be loaned both versions thanks to Mazda Canada. This review is for the soft top version, and I will follow up with the RF (with winter tires) shortly.

The MX-5 is a gorgeous car that looks better with the top down. The small frame of the car doesn't make it look disproportional. This is in part, due to the decision by the design team to move the windshield back 70mm from where it has always been. The Kodo design language emphasizes the wheel arches to make them look more muscular. This enhances the sporty look of the car. Mazda has also changed the color of the aluminum wheels to black metallic instead of the silver it used to be. The black rims produce a more confident, subdue look.

Both the front fascia and the rear view of the car are sporty but not overly aggressive. With the help of slender LED lamps and a low stance, the 2019 MX-5 looks wider than it actually is from both angles.

Although the MX-5 definitely looks better with the top down, the brown soft top canopy actually doesn't cramp the style of the car on those rainy days. The operation of opening and closing of the canopy is very simple. Once you are used to the mechanics, it is as easy as releasing the latch, pulling it to the next position, and re-engage the latch. I can do it in less than 3 seconds with some practice.

Overall, the 2019 MX-5 is no doubt a great looking car that attracts the admiration of onlookers. I have honestly gotten more praises in the MX-5 than in some exotic sports cars. Car enthusiasts recognize this iconic car and relate to the person behind the steering wheel.


The interior of the MX-5 is simple but elegant. The use of exterior paint for the interior door trims makes is cleaver and unique. Other than the climate control dials, the center console of the MX-5 has almost no buttons to distract the driver. Red accent stitching are added to make the interior slightly more sporty, and the beautifully sculpted aluminum trims elevate the status of the MX-5 interior to premium. 

There is no doubt that getting in and our of the MX-5 is a bit of a workout. The seating position is extremely low, but the seat itself is very comfortable. I enjoy the position of the headrest, and appreciate the addition of the telescopic adjustment of the steering wheel for the 2019 model.

The infotainment system of the MX-5 is the same as the rest of the Mazda line-up. A 7" touchscreen provides all the information at a high, central location. It is controlled by the switch gear panel located behind the shifter. The interface is easy to control with the rotary dial and buttons in the switch gear panel.

A small LCD information display is located at the left of the instrument panel. It provides relative driving information and can only be controlled via the buttons located on the left side of the steering wheel.

A 9-speaker Bose premium sound system is standard for the GS-P and GT trim levels. One interesting thing about the setup are the speakers hidden in driver's and passenger's headrests. It provides clear audio during hands free calls even when driving with the top down.

Safety and Driver Assistance
The MX-5 comes with the following standard safety features:
  • Advanced Smart City Brake
  • Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Hill Launch Assist
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Traffic Sign Recognition System (GT only)
  • Rear view Camera
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
At the time of writing, the MX-5 has yet to be rated by the NHTSA and IIHS.

The pure joy of driving is the reason why most people would buy a MX-5. Mazda's unrelenting pursuit for the prefect driver-car connection is the most evident in the Miata. For the 2019 model, Mazda has introduction of the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 engine. It now deliver a higher output from 155hp to 181hp. The torque has also been increased from 148 to 151 lb.ft. in the practical driving range. The engine max RPM has been raised from 6800 to 7500RPM.

To achieve these improvements, Mazda has increased the intake throttle diameter to be same as the 2.5 liter engine. The engine piston has been made lighter. The engine flywheel has been changed to a Dual-Mass Flywheel for faster response and clearer engine notes. And the exhaust is fitted with a fiber glass silencer to absorb high frequency noise. What Mazda is able to achieve, is a more powerful engine, that is also more responsive, more fuel efficient, and better sounding.

To enhance the Jinba-ittai (symbiotic relationship between the car and the driver) feel, Mazda engineers has also enhance the initial engine response to accelerator pedal inputs so the driver feels less of a time lag between stepping on the accelerator and having torque at the wheels.

The chassis is rigid, and the suspension is tuned to be on the firmer side. With the rear wheel drive configuration and a low stance, you can imagine how much fun I was having in the corners. Yes it is easy for you to get the tail to slide, but it is also incredibly easy to keep it under control. I had the chance to drive the hard-top version in the snow a few weeks later, but I will keep my impression of that experience for the next review.

The 6 speed manual transmission is one of the most enjoyable I have ever used. It is cripes, predictable, and smooth. I am so thankful that Mazda is still producing excellent manual cars like the MX-5.

Cargo Space & Storage
The cargo space in the trunk is only 126L (4.48 cu.ft.), enough for a weekend grocery run for two people. In cabin storage options are also limited. The storage bin under the armrest is tiny. There is no glove compartment in front of the passenger seat. Instead, a central compartment is placed in the rear of the center console.

The cup holders are detachable. You can install them either in the rear of the cabin, or have one beside the passenger seat. Frankly speaking, practicality is not the reason why you would be buying this car.

The 2019 Mazda MX-5 is not for everybody. If you want practicality, this is not the car for you. If you want comfort, this is also not the car for you. But if you want maximum fun in a car without having to go on tracks, or getting a speeding ticket, this is the car you want. Honestly this is one of the most fun to drive car I have reviewed in 2018. I want one!

Test Vehicle
2019 Mazda MX-5 Soft Top GT
$41,815CAD all in before tax
Soul Red Crystal Metallic


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