After last year's full redesign, the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata doesn't receive many changes, but it didn't really need any. The latest MX-5 boasts a modernized equipment roster, including an available infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen and an interior trimmed out with high-quality materials. But while other cars tend to get heavier as they're given more equipment, extensive weight-saving efforts mean this generation of Miata is the lightest since 1997. Mazda appears to have achieved the impossible, having built a new Miata that's at once more elemental and more advanced than the previous-generation car.
It's not just hype, either — the Miata is as good as advertised. Like every MX-5 before it, the 2017 model is best when the road turns twisty. It zips around turns with an enthusiasm few other cars can match, and the efficient four-cylinder engine makes enough power and sound to keep the good times rolling. The new Miata is still at its best with the manual transmission, but an automatic is available, of course, as is an unprecedented selection of creature comforts and safety technologies. Put it all together and you're looking at a unique two-seater that should appeal to sports car purists and digital-age denizens alike.
Naturally, certain compromises are required when you drive a Miata. Trunk capacity is minimal, and there's not much space to spare in the intimate cabin either, whether for passengers or personal items. There's also ample road and wind noise at speed with the top up. And if you wind the engine up past 6,000 rpm, you might notice that it gets a little rough.
Few cars are more focused than the Miata. Mazda set out to make a small, fun-to-drive roadster, and it compromised very little in achieving its vision. This generation of Miata is not just great fun; it's more premium-feeling — and easier to live with day to day — than it's ever been before, but it is still unapologetically a small roadster.
The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a two-seat roadster offered in three trim levels: Sport, Club and Grand Touring. All three trim levels are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque and powers the rear wheels through either a manual or optional automatic transmission. The Sport trim offers a stripped-out, bare-bones motoring experience. The Club is for sport-oriented driving, with a number of mechanical upgrades and added interior features. The top Grand Touring trim focuses on providing comfort and technology materials.
Standard features for the Sport trim include 16-inch alloy wheels, a manually retractable black soft top with a glass rear window, LED headlights and taillights, air-conditioning, push-button ignition, a height-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power accessories, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Club trim comes with different equipment depending on the chosen transmission. With the manual shifter, it includes a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, a shock-tower brace, a limited-slip differential and an engine sound enhancer, but opting for the automatic negates these features. All Club models get 17-inch wheels with summer performance tires, a sport front fascia, a rear lip spoiler, piano-black mirror covers and roll hoops, red interior stitching, upgraded interior trim panels, a nine-speaker Bose audio system (with headrest speakers, satellite radio and HD radio, and dual USB ports), voice controls, and a 7-inch touchscreen interface with an auxiliary control knob mounted on the center console. For 2017, the Club also gets a safety-oriented bundle that includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning, which was previously exclusive to the Grand Touring.
The Grand Touring loses the manual-transmission Club's performance upgrades (except the sound enhancer, which remains a manual-only feature), but it gets adaptive headlights with automatic high-beam control, auto-dimming mirrors with exterior heating, body-color mirror covers, automatic wipers, a cloth-lined top, leather upholstery, heated seats, automatic climate control and a navigation system.
Note that the optional automatic transmission comes bundled with keyless ignition and entry, which is a separate option across the lineup on manual-transmission models. A Brembo/BBS package is offered on manual-transmission Club models, and it includes 17-inch forged BBS wheels and more powerful Brembo front brakes.