Mazda’s 2019 MX-5 is a fun car to drive

Mazda M-X5 2019
Mazda’s 2019 MX-5 is a fun car to drive
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About the Author

R. G. Beltzner

R. G. Beltzner

A long time automobile enthusiast, and competitive race driver, Rainer Beltzner provides performance driving and racing instruction for Porsche, BMW, and Ferrari owners and clubs. He's been doing this for over 25 years. Often, Rainer is found driving/teaching on one of the Canadian Tire Motorsport, Shannonville or Watkins Glen tracks. During the “off-season”, Rainer spends his spare time driving and evaluating a broad range of vehicles. Follow Rainer on Twitter @redy2rol.

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The MX-5 (previously known as the Miata) was first introduced in 1989 and over 1 million have been sold worldwide. When first introduced, this lightweight roadster came with the absolute minimum features only as necessitated by local regulations.

As such, it quickly became a very popular sports car with two seats, front engine, manual transmission and rear wheel drive. Competition of the day included such toys as the MGB, Triumph TR7 and Fiat Spider.

Over the years, the engine has gone from a 1.6L straight-4 to a 1.8L and now to a 2.0L. The 2019 base model MX-5 adds to the already impressive features of the 2018 models with a rear view camera, Smart City Brake support, navigation, telescoping steering wheel and a new 2.0L engine.

Driving and handling characteristics

This car is fun to drive!

One of the first impressions driving this roadster is how crisp and responsive the steering is. Move the steering wheel and the car responds, decisively and quickly (15.5:1 ratio). The manual transmission is a joy to use with a decent 5.087 first gear and 2.991 second gear ratios to get you going. The car’s independent suspension is suitably stiff, yet quite comfortable.

This car is a joy to drive along winding country roads and very easy to maneuver through city streets. As one would expect, the soft-top version can be a bit noisy inside especially on higher speed roads with truck traffic. All in all, this MX-5 continues to be a shining example of what a fun roadster should be.

Comfort and Styling

The MX-5 has classic lines set off by a wonderful new “Soul Red Crystal” metallic paint that attracts lots of attention. The interior is well appointed and further enhanced with the optional Recaro sport seats with Nappa leather.

My wife and I had quite differing opinions on these seats. She really found them comfortable and enjoyed our drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake. I found the seat to be too narrow for my obviously too large posterior and as a result, somewhat painful. This is not a knock against the car – just to recognize that this roadster was never designed for a 250 lb 6’6” driver.

What is nice is that the MX-5 also has decent trunk space making it a near perfect car for that weekend getaway.

Technical details

The 2019 MX-5 now comes with Mazda’s current SKYACTIV-G 2.0L engine providing 181hp (2018 – 155) and 151 (2018 – 148) lb-ft of torque. This improvement in the engine comes as a result of a move to ultra light pistons, lighter connecting rods, larger air intake and a larger, smoother intake manifold.

The full 2019 line-up is available with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The base level GS includes:

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  1. Stability and traction control systems
  2. 16” wheels
  3. Wide angle rear view camera
  4. Smart City Brake Support
  5. Lane departure warning
  6. Blind spot monitoring
  7. High beam control system
  8. Power exterior mirror
  9. Telescoping steering wheel
  10. 7” color touchscreen display (navigation ready)
  11. AM/FM/HD radio with six speakers

The optional GS-P model provides additional performance, safety and security features such as:

Automatic & manual transmissions

  1. 17” wheels
  2. Bose 9 speaker audio system
  3. Navigation Systems
  4. Greater choice of interior-trim upgrades

Specifically for the manual transmission

  1. a strut tower bar,
  2. limited slip differential
  3. sport suspension

The manual GS-P can also be enhanced through the addition of an optional sport package ($4,400) that gives you Recaro sport seats and BBS wheels with Brembo brakes. The automatic GS-P can add paddle shifters, manual-shift mode, and a drive selector switch as an option.

Finally, the GT model (base price $39,900) includes all the standard GS-P equipment plus:

  1. Traffic sign recognition
  2. Sirius satellite radio
  3. Air conditioning with automatic climate controls
  4. 4.6” multi-information display in gauge cluster
  5. A variety of interior/exterior cosmetic and functionality enhancements
Mazda MX-5 2019

Mazda MX-5 2019 – photo credit: R.G. Beltzner

Things to consider

The MX-5 continues its long-established history as a favourite among the roadster-loving crowd. It will not disappoint those looking for an affordable two-seat sports car that has proven to be reliable over several decades.

Among the available trims, if you are looking at something beyond the base GS, I would seriously look at the manual GS-P with the sports package option, as opposed to the similarly priced GT. Of course there is the choice of the convertible soft top or the retractable hardtop.

As a final note, despite its popularity and excellent history, this is one car you need to take out for a longer test drive, if you are taller or larger than “average”, that will be the only way to really decide whether this car’s smaller size fits you.

For more automotive insights, follow me on Twitter @redy2rol

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