2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata: First Drive — Cars.com

So I am here in the 2019 Mazda MX-5
Miata and the rest of this video I’m just gonna go ahead and call it Miata
for short so I don’t get tongue-tied every time I try to say the name. Now for
2019 the Miata gets a pretty significant refresh so we’re gonna see changes to
the features, changes to of the available safety equipment but most importantly
there are big changes under the hood. Now we’re going to give you a quick rundown
of what to expect from the 2019 Miata on the feature side before we get to the
real meat of this which is those engine changes. So first of all there is a brand
new package for Grand Touring models and that would be both the RF Grand Touring
and the soft-top Grand Touring and it would be called the GTS package and what
it does is it takes the go-fast parts from the club and adds them to the GT
package so now you can get a luxurious Miata, “luxurious Miata” as you would say,
but also have the limited slip differential the Bilstein shocks and the
reinforced shock towers that you would find on the club vehicles and you can
also get those now on GT models if you want your GT to be a little bit more
sporty. Second big change is available safety equipment. So Mazda will now offer
smart city brake support which is a fancy way of saying automatic forward
emergency braking as well as traffic sign recognition to the Miata. So add
that on to blind spot warnings and Lane Departure warnings and gives the Miata a
bit more of a comprehensive safety package. A backup camera is also now
standard across all grade levels and that’s like a welcome addition because
with the top-up it’s kind of hard to see out of the back of this car still. The
final change that I want to call out is one that I personally really like I am a
Miata owner myself I own a 2001 Miata out of the NB generation and this of
course is the ND generation Miata and the Miata has actually never offered
before a telescoping steering wheel. It would tilt up and down but it would
never actually go forward and back so now for the first time the Miata is
offering one for 2019 and the reason that they didn’t want to do it before
because because it added weight and because if you add a joint that goes
this way they say you lose some stiffness in the steering column. They
actually found a way to reinforce the steering wheel and they were ok with
adding half a pound so now we get a telescoping steering
wheel which makes it much easier to set a comfortable driving position
especially with someone like me who likes to sit far back but I have
these t-rex arms so I really need the wheel to come towards me to feel
comfortable. Now for the good part, the engine changes and by changes I mean
that in kind of a weird way. Mazda didn’t really change up the engine too much,
they didn’t really bolt on any new parts, add a turbocharger or anything like that
they just made a series of little refinements that allow the engine to now
take in more air output more air and run a bit more efficiently and the total
gain of that is an increase of 26 horsepower which is pretty impressive
without making a big kind of change to the engine. 26 horsepower might not seem
like a lot that actually bumps the total horsepower up to 181 and bumps torque up
a little bit as well to 151 pounds feet. Again that that increase doesn’t really
sound like a lot. 22 horsepower, you know, doesn’t seem like it’s going to do
much however when you’re talking about a car that’s as light as the Miata it
makes a big difference. So right now I’m in the Miata RF and this is what you
would call the heavy weight version of the Miata and it comes in at a 2,450
pounds with a manual transmission. 26 horsepower on a car that’s this light
you’re gonna feel a difference and on the road you definitely feel it
whether you’re driving in a day to day situation like I’m in here in San
Francisco or if you’re on a more curvy fun road with hills and things like that.
What I discovered over our two-day trip from San Luis Obispo up here to San
Francisco is that it makes it easier to drive hills and it makes it easier to
hold momentum when you’re trying to have fun. So for example in the old Miata you
used to really have to dip down into second anytime you hit an incline. That
basically meant you know uphill I have to downshift. Now you can actually
take those hills in third gear. You can actually if you have enough momentum
kind of leaned into the car and it pulls much better from like 2,000 4,000 rpm.
Another engine change, Mazda has raised the red line back up to 7,500 rpm and
that lets you wind the engine out a little bit more but to enhance that
they’ve also made the exhaust sound better. They redid some things on the
muffler that makes it sound more full and the
Miata engine now sounds better than any small displacement four-cylinder
really has a right to. Put the top down and it’s really enjoyable to hear the
engine sing. Now what I like about the changes to the
engine is that they don’t actually fundamentally change the car itself, it’s
still a Miata, it’s still super fun to drive, the balance is great. You have
excellent steering and you just have now more horsepower to have fun with and
making the car faster without changing its nature is I think more difficult
than people give them credit for but kudos to Mazda here for adding power and
adding fun to the Miata without really taking any out. Now there’s one final
elephant in the room that we have to talk about the Miata and that is its
title as an affordable sports car and I think that actually may be falling a bit
by the wayside. So right now I’m in the RF Club model and this starts at around
$32,000. But then you add on the BBS wheel Brembo brake and Recaro seat
package and then you add on the machine gray paint that it has and all of a
sudden the sticker price on this vehicle is $38,210 including destination. Now at about $30,000 the Miata
is playing against different competition. The sticker price on this car is higher
than what you’d find on vehicles like the Honda Civic Type R and the
Volkswagen Golf R and those are cars that offer significantly more power and
more capability. Is the Miata as fun to drive as them? Potentially, but it’s
definitely not as fast and it’s definitely not as practical. Me and my
drive partner actually had to store our luggage in a different vehicle and it
kind of followed us up here on our drive up. So I’m a big fan of this Miata but
what I spend $38,000 on it? I’m not sure. Now I’m a big fan of changes to the 2019
Miata. I think adding power is kind of just what the car needed to make it
really come alive. It’ll be hard for me to go back and drive a 2018 or 2017
version of the car now and enjoy it just as much. Now the good news for those who
are interested in the Miata if you want an RF version of the car those will
actually go on sale starting in August while soft top versions haven’t quite been
announced yet but pricing and availability for those should be
available soon.