2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Spec Review

Spending some time with Mazda's timeless roadster.

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August 19, 2013

2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Spec Review

The clutch and shifter in our manual-transmission test car work well together, and we found the Miata to be easy to drive in traffic, even if it sounded and acted a bit high-strung.

Introduction
There are precious few things in life that never change, even over more than two decades. Mazda's MX-5 Miata, first unveiled to the public in 1989, is one of those things.

Sure, its styling has evolved over the years, just as pop music has 'advanced' from Fine Young Cannibals and Bon Jovi to Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke, but even non-car people know a Miata when they see one, especially when it's painted red. The formula stays the same: light weight, a decent pinch of power, a convertible top, otherworldly handling, two seats, four cylinders, rear-wheel-drive, and an available manual transmission.

That doesn't mean the formula can't be tweaked. Modern features like Bluetooth and a convertible hardtop have been added over the years, yet the Miata remains true to its core.

For those who subscribe to the more weight = less fun theory (read: most car enthusiasts), the Miata has always held appeal. But that hasn't stopped Mazda from trying to bolster that appeal with as many folks as possible. Hence the Club edition.

Replacing the outgoing Touring trim, and slotting in between the base Sport and top-line Grand Touring trims, the Club features special alloy 17-inch wheels, black exterior trim bits (most noticeable on the mirrors), a front air dam, a rear diffuser, and some decorative interior pieces. Opt for the six-speed manual transmission, and you get the Suspension Package, which includes a sport-tuned suspension, Bilstein shocks, and a limited-slip differential. You also get special badging.

Do badges make it faster? Of course not. Does the suspension do its job? We spent a week with the car to find out.

2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata On the Road It's a Miata, so sticky handling is virtually assured, and that's what you get. Point it, and it goes there, with no excess steering play or inaccuracy. There's a reason these things are the darlings of the autocross scene.

Want to get a bit playful? The Miata accommodates. Thanks to the power of the (167-horse/140 lb-ft of torque) 2.0-liter four-cylinder and the rear-drive setup, you can get the rear end to swing a bit. Just want to get to the next corner faster? That works, too.

Not only is it accurate, but the steering is nicely weighted, to boot. Ride is sacrificed -- it's pretty harsh at times -- but that is to be expected in a car this sporty.

The clutch and shifter in our manual-transmission test car work well together, and we found the Miata to be easy to drive in traffic, even if it sounded and acted a bit high-strung.
2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Exterior The look is classic Miata -- classic two-seat convertible and classic cop-target. A typical long-hood, short-deck front-to-rear profile matches with a low stance to give the Miata a head-turning sporty style.
2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Interior It's cramped, no doubt about it, and the center console goes vertical to accommodate the shifter and cupholders. All the switchgear (including the convertible top switch) is easy to use, and the gauges easy to read, but taller drivers will find entry and exit difficult and headroom lacking with the top up. This is a weekender, not a commuter (a small trunk sees to that).
2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Conclusion Mazda knows it can't tweak its winning formula too much (until next year's redesign, on a platform that will be shared with Alfa Romeo), especially since the Miata remains affordable and offers performance without a fuel-economy penalty. The Miata is a rolling reminder that weight is the enemy, and those who travel light will appreciate this machine.

Its biggest flaws aren't fixable -- the cockpit is small, and so is the trunk. We'll live with that. We wished for a USB port, but that's a small issue -- this is an elemental throwback of a car.

The zoom-zoom spirit is alive at Mazda.
2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Specs, Features, and Prices Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Drive Wheels: Rear-wheel-drive

Fuel Economy: 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway

Base Price: $26,705

Available Features: Bluetooth, Bilstein shocks, power hard top, black sideview mirrors, black wheels, 17-inch wheels, front air dam, AM/FM/CD radio with auxiliary MP3 input, power windows, remote keyless entry.

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