Review: 2014 Mazda Miata Club – Still true to its Roots?


Since 1989, the Mazda Miata has been one of the most loved roadsters on the planet.  It’s affordable, fun, reliable, and easy on the eyes.  But has this favorite roadster stayed true to its roots after 25 years?  I drove a 2014 Mazda Miata Club for a week to find out. (In the interest of full disclosure, I have owned a first generation Miata and my daily driver is a 2001 Miata.)

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2014 Mazda Miata Club $28,665 $29,515 167 / 140
EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG
Rating: BUY IT! 21 / 28 Combined 24 Combined 19.2

The 2014 Miata is a member of the third generation of Miatas, which has essentially remained unchanged since a 2008 refresh.  When compared to previous generations, this Miata has gotten wider, longer, and heavier.  My test model has the signature Mazda “smiley face” grill, accented by two dimple like foglights.  There is less overhang in the front and the shoulder line and trunk are both noticeably higher than in previous generations.  Overall this design attempts to rid the Miata of its chick car reputation among those who judge a car by its sheet metal.

This is no chick car.  Nor is it a dude car.  This is a driver’s car.  Powered by a 2.0L four cylinder engine, the RWD Miata produces 167 horsepower and 140 lb/ft of torque.  Are those numbers anything to write home about?  Not really.  0-60 comes in about 6 seconds, though it seems like an eternity, and you’ll cross the quarter mile mark in about 14.5 seconds.  So why is it a driver’s car?  One word: Twisties.


Take this slow car fast through the corners and you’ll understand why the Miata is loved by enthusiasts the world over.  A limited slip differential is standard on the Club, as well as a sport tuned suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars, and Bilstein shocks.  The suspension is tuned for a stiffer ride, but it’s by no means uncomfortable on the mean city streets.  With a 52/48 front to rear weight distribution, the handling is very neutral.  It’s a little light hooning with the traction control off, and the mechanical parking brake utilized results in the rear kicking out in a controlled slide. Pure driving joy.

My test model was equipped with a 6 speed manual transmission, although you get a 5 speed manual in the Sport trim line.  A 6 speed automatic with paddle shifters is also available – but really, why would you?  There is a special place in hell for those who opt for the automatic when the manual is so finely engineered with short, crisp, and precise throws.  It allows you to rev the engine to peak torque at 5,000 rpm and peak horsepower at 7,000 rpm.  Further, you lose 9 horsepower with the automatic, which is a sacrifice nobody should have to make.


Fortunately, the good folks at Mazda have kept the hydraulic assist power steering, which is one of the reasons people keep coming back to the Miata.  Although it seems to have gotten just a touch lighter over the years, it is still quick and precise, with enough road sensitivity that pavement changes are easily felt through the wheel.  Heck, you can practically feel when you cross the paint of a cross walk through the steering wheel.   The quick steering ratio means you can always avoid any nasty potholes, should your reflexes be fast enough.

When it comes to luxurious interior features, look elsewhere.  Infotainment system?  Nope.  Heated seats?  Forget it.  You can’t even get Bluetooth and I’ll be a monkey’s aunt if I could find a USB port.  Your creature comforts are limited to cruise control, a multi-functional tilt (but not telescoping) steering wheel, and remote keyless entry.  My test model was equipped with the power retractable hard top.  Unlike most electric hard tops, the car has to be stopped and in neutral before the top will move up or down. Wind and engine noise are loud, especially at higher speeds, and I would expect it to be even worse with a soft top.


Once the top is down, it doesn’t interfere with trunk space at all, if you can call 5.3 cubic feet “space.”  Packing the car is like playing Tetris.  The trunk can certainly accommodate two small overnight bags or a few days worth of groceries, but those that need to haul many items will quickly learn to take everything out of boxes and to pack in layers.

The Miata’s achillies heel is it’s less than stellar gas mileage.  EPA ratings for the manual and automatic are 21 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined.   For such a small car one would expect better numbers.  My week consisted of mostly high revving, quick-off-the-line-don’t-even-challenge-me-Mr.-Taxi city driving with a 50 mile jaunt on the highway.  I averaged 19.2 mpg.  I’m sure that reasonable, non-lunatic drivers will get a better number.

If you’re looking for direct competition, meaning a 2 seat, RWD, convertible under $30K, you’ll be looking long and hard.   Sure there’s the Mini Cooper Roadster Convertible, but it’s FWD drivetrain will give you a completely different driving experience.  The Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio comes to mind, but again that is FWD, with the addition of a turbo and a backseat.   The Porsche Boxster is a 2 seat, RWD, convertible, but it’s twice as expensive.  Those looking at used cars would point to the Honda S2000, but when it comes to new cars, the Miata stands alone.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

The 2014 Mazda Miata Club is a whole hearted Buy It! The sacrifices you have to make in terms of practicality and fuel economy are made up for in spades in terms of sheer driving pleasure.  This is one car that remains closely connected to its roots.

Check out this TFL first drive review of the 2014 Mazda3 :