Photo by Steve Rossi

Car Review: 2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Stays True To Its Roots

EAST HADDAM, CT – The Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of those rare commodities that’s remained true to its core values. That being to offer pure driving enjoyment in the form of an analog sports car. And the authentic experience has been made even better with the arrival of the RF power retractable fastback/hardtop model for those who prefer a little more four-seasons creature comfort.

Of course, you’re probably familiar with the story. The Miata idea was to recreate the legendary, two-seater British sports car in a modern, reliable package. It was inspired by the Lotus Elan and has gone on to become the world’s best-selling roadster. The name “Miata” is actually an old German word that means “reward” or “prize.”

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata

All MX-5s have a front-mounted, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder twin cam engine with rear-wheel drive. It delivers a spritely 181 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. torque. Skyactiv-G engine management includes Direct Injection combined with Variable Valve Timing which allows for a high, 13:1 compression ratio with a stratified air-fuel mixture.

But Skyactiv means more than that. In Mazda-speak, it’s the integration of all technology elements – such as chassis construction and body development – to function in exacting harmony for utmost effectiveness and efficiency. Improved driving dynamics equates to fun, which the Miata delivers in spades

This is particularly true with a 6-speed manual transmission, which mine had.

For 2024, the electronic power steering has been updated for improved precision while stability has been enhanced with an Asymmetric Limited Slip Differential. An available Club package further adds 17-inch BBS forged alloy wheels and Recaro sport seats with black suede accents. Bilstein shock absorbers are and shock tower bracing is standard while red Brembo brake calipers may be had.

Living with a Miata is more amenable than you might imagine. The cockpit is cozy and comfortable and includes a rear wind deflector/blocker to reduce buffeting. When the roof is up, the driving experience obviously becomes a bit more tranquil, and the benefit of the 9-speaker Bose audio system becomes more evident. 

The retractable fastback function is a sight to behold. With the simple press of a button, it takes a mere 13 seconds to convert the Miata from a coupe to a convertible. There are no supplementary latches to contend with and the roof slips out of sight behind the seats without gobbling up any trunk space whatsoever. Which is fairly deep, by the way.

The MX-5 rides better than you might imagine, too. It’s crisp, but not overly harsh, and is clearly endowed with a wonderful fun-to-drive quotient. One of its clever compromises is that it’s shod with 45-cross section tires which are low, but not overly so. Steering response is therefore quick but there’s still enough sidewall to help absorb road irregularities. 

A software-based Kinematic Posture Control system helps suppress body roll and maintain the Miata’s natural ride posture by applying braking pressure to the inner rear wheel when high cornering G-force is sensed.

An 8.8-inch center color touchscreen keeps operations in check, while Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will ensure that you remain connected. Nice, old school rotary knobs for heating and ventilation adjustment remain a simple pleasure. Alexa has also been added for hands-free command capability.

The 2024 Miatas are distinguished by new LED (light emitting diode) head lights and tail lamps. The hood and trunk are aluminum. The Club model is further set apart by a gloss black front air dam, side sill extensions, a rear bumper skirt and a rear lip spoiler.

As a hands-on driver’s car, the MX-5 is devoid of some of the recent computer-controlled safety subsystems which often automatically override such intended purpose. However, Dynamic Stability Control, Lane Departure Warning, Secondary Collision Reduction and Smart Brake Support is included. As is now de facto Anti-lock Braking and Traction Control. 

Mazda Miata pricing starts at $28,985 for a basic Sport roadster. Moving up into the RF Club realm will set you back $40,210. Either way, once you get behind the wheel, you’ll be enticed to take the long way home. It’s a car for those of you who still enjoy driving, like me.

(Photos courtesy of Mazda unless otherwise noted.)

About Steven Rossi

Steve Rossi is an automotive engineer-turned-marketing communicator. With some 25 years in the industry, including three tours of duty in Detroit, he serves as senior columnist for "Antique Automobile" magazine. His work has also appeared in "Collectible Automobile" and "The New York Times." He holds 21 international speed and world automotive endurance records.

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