2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata

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2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Test Drive Review: A Ray Of Automotive Sunshine

2020 has been a depressing year with people needing a pick-me-up more than ever before. Luckily, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is a ray of sunshine in a cloudy universe, an infinite source of pleasure to break out of monotony with a 7,500-rpm manic drive unit under the hood. Producing 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, the Miata is clearly not the fastest sports car that money can buy, but all of those performance numbers fall to the wayside once you uncork the brilliantly simple little roadster.

The Miata has always been about the feel, capturing the sheer pleasure of driving, making every trip to the grocery store or doctor's office feel memorable. Starting at under $27,000, very few sports cars can put as big a grin on your face as the Miata, though the Fiat 124 Spider (basically a re-bodied Miata), Toyota 86, and Subaru BRZ can certainly try their best. Spending a week with a 2020 MX-5 Miata Club reminded us of what a great little car this really is.

Read in this review:

8.4
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2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 MX-5 Miata?

A number of little changes have made their way to the 2020 update of the Mazda MX-5 Miata in the US, including a new keyfob and a revised font for the badging. Some new colors are now on the options list, along with more standard equipment. All new Miata models now feature Mazda's i-Activsense driver-assistance features that include blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. The top two trims also gain Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, with the highest trim gaining the handling upgrades that are standard on the mid-level Club trim.

Pros and Cons

  • Peppy, rev-happy engine
  • Sharp handling
  • Comfortable ride
  • All available safety equipment is standard
  • Well-designed interior
  • Confining cockpit
  • Loud at highway speeds
  • Minimal cargo space
  • Upset by rough pavement

Best Deals on 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata

2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Sport
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
6-Speed Manual
Rear-Wheel Drive
$26,580
Club
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
6-Speed Manual
Rear-Wheel Drive
$30,290
Grand Touring
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
6-Speed Manual
Rear-Wheel Drive
$31,670
100th Anniversary
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
6-Speed Manual
Rear-Wheel Drive
$32,670
See All 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Trims and Specs

2020 MX-5 Miata Exterior

2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Front View CarBuzz
2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Rear View CarBuzz
2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Front Angle View CarBuzz
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Dimensions

  • Length 154.1 in
  • Wheelbase 90.9 in
  • Height 48.6 in
  • Max Width 68.3 in
  • Front Width 58.9 in
  • Rear Width 59.2 in
  • Curb Weight 2,341.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Jet Black Mica
  • Arctic White
  • Soul Red Crystal Metallic
  • Polymetal Gray
  • Machine Gray Metallic
  • Eternal Blue Mica
  • Snowflake White Pearl Mica

2020 MX-5 Miata Performance

2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Aft View CarBuzz
2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Gear Shifter CarBuzz
2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Engine CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine
    2.0L Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Automatic, 6-Speed Manual
  • Drivetrain
    RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Modern automotive PR departments have brainwashed car enthusiasts into believing that body roll is the bane of their existence, and that all sports cars should remain flat and level through every corner. The MX-5 says bollocks to that. Even our Club tester with the stiffer shocks leans into bends, but once the car settles, it's easy to get a handle on what will happen next. That's because the Miata's lightweight construction and 50-50 weight distribution communicate every sensation back to the driver, making you feel connected to the experience. The steering wheel is a bit less communicative than we'd like, but with such a touchy throttle, we never felt lacking for precision control. As a minor drawback, the Miata tends to bite back unexpectedly when you get it all a bit wrong, but when the rear end steps out, a good driver can correct with a bit of opposite lock.

The Miata isn't a car you drift, but rather one you coax into a bit of tomfoolery. With no fear of immediate death, you can push those limits day in and day out and always trust the tires to communicate feedback through your hands. Opting for the Club or Grand Tourer variants adds a limited-slip differential along with a front shock tower brace and Bilstein dampers, although the latter two features are only available in conjunction with the manual transmission - yet another reason to get the DIY model. In terms of general road manners, the Miata is stiffer than your average commuter car but never unbearable. When it's time to stop, the brakes are sharp yet easy to modulate, and the Club trim is available with more stopping power in the form of larger Brembo calipers. We didn't find the Brembos to feel particularly more impressive, though with such little weight to bring to a halt, they work just fine.

2020 MX-5 Miata Interior

2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Steering Wheel Controls CarBuzz
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2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Dashboard CarBuzz
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Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
    2-seater
  • Front Leg Room 43.1 in
  • Front Head Room 37.4 in

2020 MX-5 Miata Trunk and Cargo Space

2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Interior Details CarBuzz
2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Seat Belt CarBuzz
2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Trunk Space CarBuzz
  • Trunk Volume
    4.6 ft³

2020 MX-5 Miata Safety and Reliability

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata a good car?

As the adage goes, Miata is always the answer. That's a very broad statement and it's not necessarily true for everyone. Those of a larger frame or a height of more than six feet will likely find the MX-5 to be too confining, and those who have driven turbo cars may find the experience of a Miata too different from what they've become accustomed to. The trunk, too, is tiny, and there isn't a lot of practicality on offer in terms of interior storage either. Nevertheless, the driving experience is all but unparalleled. The feel and communication from the tires right through to your seat are a joy to experience, and the engine's peppy, responsive, and rev-happy nature are wonderful contrasts to the dull and lazy engines that are the norm in most cars at this price point. If you're after a car that you can use for solitary road trips and canyon-carving driving excursions, little will satisfy as much as the Miata. For those who want one car to do everything, this won't tick all the boxes; try a Volkswagen Golf GTI or a Ford Mustang. But thanks to a decent spread of standard features, an attractive interior, and a good balance between handling and comfort, the Miata can put a huge grin on your face, and we think that's worthy of praise.

Check out other Mazda MX-5 Miata Styles

2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Comparisons

Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
Subaru BRZ Subaru
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Mazda MX-5 Miata181 hp26/34 mpg$27,650
Mazda MX-5 Miata RF 181 hp26/34 mpg$33,045
Subaru BRZ 228 hp20/27 mpg$27,995

2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata vs Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

These cars are obviously very similar, with the only apparent difference being the roof. Where the regular Miata uses a folding soft-top, the RF has a Targa-style roof setup with buttresses that remain in place even when the so-called retractable "fastback" is folded away. The RF is also not available in the Sport trim, and therefore starts at a higher price of $33,045. Nevertheless, even the Club version of the regular Miata is almost $3,000 cheaper than the RF. Furthermore, the RF Miata hardtop is over 100 lbs heavier and is more difficult to get in and out of, more difficult to see out of, and overall a more diluted model. We'd stick with the regular Miata here. That way, you can save some cash for extra tires and track upgrades and you'll have a car with a lower center of gravity and better space management.

See Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Review

2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata vs Subaru BRZ

Subaru's BRZ and its Toyota 86 sibling are similarly lightweight sportscars with more focus on handling fun than outright acceleration, just like the Miata. Starting at a base price below $29,000, the BRZ is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter flat-four with 205 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque, making it stronger in comparison to the Miata. It also has two (tiny) seats in the back and comes as a coupe only, making it more rigid. The chassis is as fun and playful as the MX-5's, if not more so, and both novices and the experienced can have a lot of fun with these cars. For daily use, the BRZ also offers more trunk space at 6.9 cubic feet and a larger fuel tank. For us, the Miata is still a car that is unadulterated, simple, and fun. The BRZ follows the same recipe and is certainly worth considering too. Where the Subaru has the advantage in this competition, however, is that it mixes practicality with fun and is a great platform for more power. We love the Miata, but the BRZ is arguably more versatile.

See Subaru BRZ Review

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