2018 Mazda MX-5 Club: Miata Still Has the Magic [Review]

The Club trim adds sports suspension and a limited-slip differential.

[Photo: Arv Voss]


The 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata continues with Mazda’s full suite of SkyActiv technology, encompassing engine, transmission and chassis enhancements over the previous generation. However, Mazda’s roadster retains its iconic, rear-wheel drive flavor and appeal.

Visual changes over the past several years had been very subtle at best with themed editions, special paint and trims. In its latest generation, the Miata presents a more striking, alluring face. The car comes in three levels of trim: the base Sport, the performance oriented Club, and the more luxurious Grand Touring. The Club trim is expected to be the volume leader in the range.

The Miata’s design is a breath of fresh air to some over the earlier versions. It features a long hood, abbreviated overhangs and a cropped cabin space that’s moved far back on the body. Mazda moved the MX-5’s 17-inch wheels as far forward as is practical toward all four corners. The car is on a smaller scale than before with some styling cues that seem to display a European influence. The Jaguar F-Type comes to mind.

The design team’s goal was to move forward without sacrificing the car’s purity and heritage. The profile is low and aerodynamic, and the car is equally appealing with the top up or down. The manual cloth top is light and may be easily operated while seated in the car. Just undo a couple clips, and the roof easily folds back into the rear deck.

All of the Miata’s exterior panels except the windshield frame and doors are made of aluminum. Seats are constructed of a net and urethane seat material that replaces traditional springs.

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Edition
Mazda MX-5 interior. [Photo: Mazda]


The 2018 Mazda MX-5 Club sports an interior that showcases a human-centric driving position. It’s focused around the driver, with things like the pedal position optimized to fall in line with the driver’s natural foot movement. Passengers have also been positioned inboard to feel in-line with the center of the vehicle, but passenger space can be tight for those taller than 6′ 4″.

The hood is low and the windshield A-pillars are upright and positioned aft for enhanced visibility. Exterior paint colors are brought into the door panels. Everything combines to provide a greater sensation of the outside world.

MX-5 Club models come standard with a 7.0-inch MazdaConnect infotainment system. There are two USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity and voice commands, but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support. Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and a nine-speaker Bose stereo system.

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Edition
[Photo: TFLcar]


A longitudinally-mounted 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine powers all U.S.-spec Mazda MX-5s. It packs a modest punch, with 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Gearing the engine’s energy to the rear wheels is either a standard six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. The Club trim also comes standard with sport-tuned Bilstein shocks, and Brembo front brakes are available as an option.

In the 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata, engineers concentrated on understanding how the car feels through the driver’s sense of touch, how it sounds at speed, and how it looks with the top stowed, rather than focusing on zero-to-60-mph acceleration figures. This latest Mazda MX-5 Miata has lost absolutely none of its appeal, regardless of which model you choose. The car’s manual gearbox, in particular, delivers an unquestionably positive response to the driving experience.

Acceleration may not seem blistering to some, but is certainly quick enough to provide a thoroughly fun driving experience. When you prod the throttle, the engine offers up a pleasing, unoffensive growl. That said, a heightened, throatier note from the exhaust would surely generate even wider smiles and heartier laughs. Handling is crisp and precise, and the car exhibits an excellent front to rear balance.

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club
[Photo: Arv Voss]


The 2018 Mazda MX-5 Club remains a true sports car with heart still reflecting Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” spirit. For most fans, a Miata will always be a Miata. Kudos to Mazda for achieving a genuine sports car feel and aesthetic, as well as the easy to operate manual top. Essentially, the 2016 MX-5 Miata Club roadster is track-ready off the showroom floor. Although there is the matter of adding a roll bar and five-point harness to meet sanctioned racing requirements.

My test 2018 Mazda MX-5 Club model came with a manual gearbox. The base price for the model is $29,155 before destination charges. However, once you add a $3,770 package including Brembo brakes, BBS wheels and Recaro seats, as well as the Machine Gray Metallic paint, that price jumps up. After destination charges, the final price is  $35,240.

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SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Mazda MX-5 Club

On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $29,155
Price as Tested:
Engine: 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G naturally-aspirated four-cylinder
Drivetrain (Layout): Longitudinally mounted front engine / Rear-Wheel Drive with torque-sensing differential.
Horsepower: 155 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 148 @ 4,600 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed SKYACTIV-MT (Manual) with short throw shifter.
Suspension: Front: Double wishbone with aluminum control arms, Bilstein monotube dampers, shock tower brace and stabilizer bar.

Rear: Multilink with aluminum bearing support, Bilstein monotube dampers and stabilizer bar.

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (Brembo vented front), ABS, EBD and BA.
Tires: Bridgestone Potenza 205/45 R17 84W
Fuel capacity: 11.9 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 26 City / 33 Highway mpg


Wheelbase: 90.9 inches
Length: 154.1 inches
Width: 68.3 inches
Height: 48.8 inches
Turning Circle: 30.8 feet
Curb Weight: 2,332 pounds