2014 Mazda MX-5 Club Road Test & Review
Today’s Mazda MX-5 Club is the descendant of a revolutionary model—sort of. We say sort of, because while back in 1989 Mazda indeed started something of a revolution with the introduction of the MX-5 Miata, it was more the reigniting of a previous revolution. The true revolution actually dated all the way back to the late 1940s, when sports cars first started getting their footing in North America. Many American World War II veterans, having become enamored with the style and agility of European sports cars, brought them home after the war.
As a result, models like the MG TC and the Triumph TR2 became quite popular among American motoring enthusiasts. Other manufacturers, recognizing the potential of this slice of the market, started shipping over two-seat convertible models as well. Truly enjoyable to drive (though glacially slow and rather ponderously handling by today’s standards) and distinctly affordable to purchase, they went on to became icons in their own right. Thing is, they offered very little protection from the elements and they were notoriously unreliable.
Didn’t stop sales though; by the middle of the 1970s, the wealth of such offerings had ultimately come to include the MG-B, Triumph TR7, Triumph Spitfire, Alfa Romeo Spider, Fiat X1/9, and the Fiat 124 Spider. Eventually though, their faults began to outweigh their virtues, and while weather protection eventually became more substantial, reliability remained an issue. With the fuel crises and economic slowdowns of the late 1970’s, the market petered out and eventually ceased to exist—or it seemed to. By 1989, when the MX-5 was introduced, there was but one other relatively affordable, two-seat convertible sports car left on the market in the US—the Alfa Romeo Spider—and its days were numbered.
Thus, when Mazda showed the Miata (nee MX-5) at the Chicago Auto Show in 1989, the car was a breath of fresh air. Good looking, fun to drive, exceptionally reliable, and incredibly affordable (if you could find one at sticker price) the Mazda MX-5 was the beginning of the small sports car revolution—all over again.
2014 Mazda MX-5 Club Road Test & Review: Models & Prices
For 2014, Mazda is offering three versions of the MX-5; they are MX-5 Sport, Club, and Grand Touring. Either of the three can be had with the traditional soft top. Club and Grand Touring models are also offered with a folding hardtop.
Pricing starts at $23,720 for the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Sport, $26,905 for the Club, and $27,550 for the Grand Touring. Add the power retractable hardtop, the price increases to $28,665 for the MX-5 Club and $29,450 for the MX-5 Grand Touring.
Standard features for the MX-5 Sport include a five-speed manual transmission with a short-throw shifter (a six-speed automatic is optional), 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, halogen headlights with projector-type low beams, halogen fog lights, a black vinyl convertible top, cloth-trimmed seats, air conditioning, power windows with driver's one-touch-down feature, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers.
Opting for the MX-5 Club package gets you all of the above; plus black 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a shock tower brace, power door locks with two-stage unlocking, remote keyless entry with a retractable key, steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, cruise control, a trip computer, a leather-wrapped shift knob, a sport-tuned suspension system with Bilstein shock absorbers, a limited-slip differential, Club model badging and side graphics, a body-colored dash decoration panel with Club graphics, black housings for the exterior power mirrors, a front air dam and rear diffuser, a contoured instrument panel hood with dark gray rings around the instrumentation, black cloth seats with red stitching, and dark gray seatback rollover bar accents.
The MX-5 Grand Touring package nets all of the above, plus your choice of a black or a Spicy Mocha colored cloth convertible top. The GT package also includes 17-inch silver aluminum-alloy wheels in a split five-spoke design, silver seat back rollover bar trim, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming inside rearview mirror with Homelink,heated leather-trimmed seats, a leather-wrapped shift knob with painted silver trim, and a Boseaudio system with AudioPilotand a six-disc CD changer.
Power Retractable Hardtop (PRHT) models are equipped largely the same as their soft-top siblings—with the exception of additional leather trim features for the Grand Touring (GT) model. The PRHT GT also gets a leather-wrapped parking brake, and synthetic leather-trimmed door panel trim with silver accents.
2014 Mazda MX-5 Club Road Test & Review: Design
One look at the MX-5 Miata Club edition tells you you’re in for a thrilling driving experience. The black wheels shod with four of the super-sticky Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires, the black headlight surrounds, along with the black air dam and rear diffuser all serve to accent the overall pleasing shape of the MX-5.
The flowing design of the car is pleasing to the eye and while it telegraphs the affordable nature of the little Mazda, it doesn’t look cheap at all. It just looks, well, fun. The black detailing gives the Mazda’s shape a more aggressive attitude, particularly when the hardtop is deployed as well.
It’s well known the human eye likes to trace the arc of a curve and the MX-5’s design plays upon this in a big way. The sculpting of the fenders adds an air of muscularity to the design, while also providing additional room for the suspension system to travel. While this iteration of the MX-5 was introduced back in 2005, detail adjustments over the years have kept it looking fresh. The grille redesign for the 2013 model year being the latest such adjustment.
2014 Mazda MX-5 Club Road Test & Review: Comfort & Cargo
As long as you bear in mind the MX-5 is a small two-seat convertible sports car, you’ll be rather satisfied with the cargo capacity of the car. One really nice feature is the way the convertible top retracts into its own well (even the hardtop) so cargo space remains constant whether the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Club is driven open or closed.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is there’s only 5.3 cubic feet of space in the trunk. However, if you pack carefully and use soft bags, you can carry enough to do a weekend trip for two.
And again, the top goes down regardless of what’s in the trunk. Speaking of which, the hardtop can be raised or lowered in 12 seconds simply by releasing a catch at the header and pressing a button at the top of the center stack. The MX-5 Miata’s soft-top remains a model of efficiency for the class. Simply releasing one catch and flipping it back over your shoulder—all from a seated position at the steering wheel can lower the roof. After you get used to it, you can also put the roof back up without getting out of the driver’s seat as well.
Like the trunk, interior storage space is also at a premium. This is a close-coupled car with minimal space. The glove box is on the shallow side, as are the map pockets in the doors. There is also a small storage compartment at the driver’s elbow (within which resides the release for the fuel filler flap BTW). Overall though, you won’t be bringing a bunch of extraneous stuff with you on drives in a MX-5.
However, as far as long distance seating comfort is concerned, two people can ride in the MX-5 for hours with no discomfort whatsoever. The seats are nice and firm, and they are just far enough apart to prevent the driver and passenger from being crowded together. You’ll enjoy your drive and arrive at your destination still on good terms with one another. What’s more, having been designed for the North American marketplace, two six-foot tall individuals fit quite well in the MX-5’s cockpit.
2014 Mazda MX-5 Club Road Test & Review: Features & Controls
Looking around the Mazda’s interior, you’ll very quickly recognize the MX-5 is a driver-centric car. All of the controls are very straightforward and grouped nicely.The driver faces a hefty steering wheel with buttons for the audio system and cruise control. Let your right hand fall naturally from the steering wheel, it lands squarely on the transmission’s shift lever. What’s more, the placement of the handbrake lever immediately to the right of the gearshift lever gives the driver a comfortable place to rest that hand when it isn’t operating the transmission.
The center stack is a paragon of simplicity, containing as it does only those items necessary for the comfort and convenience of two people. Yes, the upper trim level models offer automatic climate control, but that’s about it in the way of over the top luxe gear. If it’s conducive to driving comfort it’s there, easy to decipher and easy to operate. If it isn’t, it wasn’t included. This is an elemental sports car for the 21st century.
The only fault we could find with the interior layout is the placement of the window switches. Situated on the center console, directly behind the shift lever, they can be activated inadvertently by your wrist when you’re downshifting from third to second.
2014 Mazda MX-5 Club Road Test & Review: Safety & Ratings
The 2014 Mazda MX-5 features dual front airbags with a passenger deactivation switch, side-impact airbags, side-impact door beams, three-point safety belts with pretensioners and force limiters, an anti-lock brake system with electronic brake-force distribution, dynamic stability control, traction control, and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Mazda’s Certified Roadside Assistance Program provides a toll-free number and a free Mazda Assist app for iOS- and Android-operated mobile devices. Roadside assistance can be contacted 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout the United States and Canada.
The Mazda’s New Vehicle Limited Warranty package is comprised of a comprehensive three-year/36,000-mile warranty, covering everything except normal wear items. It also includes a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, along with a five-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion warranty.
2014 Mazda MX-5 Club Road Test & Review: Engine & Fuel Economy
The 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata, regardless of top configuration or trim package, ships with a 167-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine capable of generating 140 ft-lbs of torque. And while those numbers sound paltry in the age of 300-horsepower pretty much everything, it’s important to remember the MX-5 is a very light car. Even the most heavily equipped GT model with the folding hardtop top weighs just 2,619 pounds.
Transmission choices include a five-speed manual (Sport models only), a six-speed manual (Club and Grand Touring models), and a six-speed automatic with a sport shift algorithm, which can be fitted to any of the trim packages. With the six-speed automatic fuel economy is rated at 21 in the city, 28 on the highway and 23 overall. The five-speed returns 22 in the city, 28 on the highway and 25 overall. The six-speed manual is good for 21 in the city, 28 on the highway, and 24 overall.
However, it should be noted the MX-5 also runs a pretty small fuel tank, so running it hard will find it emptying the tank rather quickly, even with these terrific fuel economy numbers.
2014 Mazda MX-5 Club Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions
As we mentioned previously, this is a very light car. The engine uses an aluminum block and head, the exhaust manifold is crafted from lightweight tubular steel (instead of cast iron) and the intake manifold and cam cover are constructed from lightweight composite plastic. You’ll find more aluminum in the hood, trunk lid, foot control arms, rear suspension uprights and the brake rear calipers. Further, the MX-5’s unibody makes widespread use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength tensile steel, which increases body strength while decreasing weight.
This, combined with perfect 50/50 weight distribution with two passengers and full tank of fuel mean the MX-5 is nicely balanced, remarkably agile, and perfectly willing to execute sudden and sequential changes of direction.
Said in English, this car loves to corner.
Turn the steering wheel and response is immediate. The body does exhibit a bit of roll upon initial turn-in, but the suspension then takes a set, the tires bite, and the little roadster goes rocketing through the corner. There are a number of reasons so many Miatas see track duty, and this is one of them.
The free-revving bulletproof nature of the engine is another. The intake sound is ported into the cowl to provide a more pleasing overall sound when the car is driven hard and it works really well. You’ll enjoy running the engine to its 7200 rpm redline, time and time again. Clutch take-up is immediate, shifting the transmission feels like the lever is connected directly to the gears, and the brakes provide the precise amount of retardation requested. Keep in mind though; this car is about the joys of high average speed running, not hard acceleration. Even though it’s lightweight, you’re not going to be smoking drag strips in a MX-5.
On the highway, despite its light weight, the MX-5 feels solidly planted and exceptionally stable. Around town, the compliant nature of the suspension system delivers an exceptionally comfortable ride, wholly uncharacteristic of a car with this much cornering potential. Long story short, the MX-5 is dialed in just about dead solid perfectly.
2014 Mazda MX-5 Club Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts
A single person could very easily enjoy a MX-5 as a daily driver, or even a commuter—particularly with the partially retractable hardtop. There’s a reason this car has lasted some 25 years, while many others have tried to duplicate its successful formula with poor results.
Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, this is the best sports car value on the market today—in its class. Many would argue the MX-5 is the best sports car available today—period. We won’t go that far, but we will say you could do a lot worse than bringing home a 2014 Mazda MX-5 Club for your very own.
Keep in mind though, this is a small two-seat sports car whose first and foremost mission is to be fun to drive. This is what the MX-5 Miata is ALL about. If you’re looking for a spacious roadster with a boatload of luxury features, and you place more value on those attributes than the sheer joy of driving a responsive open car, you really should be looking at something else.
2014 Mazda MX-5 Club Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons
• Outstanding driving characteristics
• Exceptional reliability
• Good fuel economy
• Handsome interior and exterior design
• Minimal storage space
• Light on power
• Small fuel tank
• Prefers premium fuel