Car Review: The MX-5 Miata has more power for 2019

Small sporty convertibles evoke smiles for miles with their top-down driving joy. The tiny Mazda Miata has been providing thirty years of fun, for not a lot of money. In 2019, the MX-5 Miata comes in two ways to enjoy top-down driving. There’s a true cloth top that opens with one hand and in seconds allows full open-air motoring. Then there’s a power-top version that offers a bit more cover.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

If you fancy a more hard core car that is as happy at the track as a back road, the MX-5 Miata Club RF is your choice. The club version is the more hunkered down Miata with a sport-tuned suspension and a couple of other tricks to stiffen up the car to make it a bit better in the corners.

My $38,600 MX-5 RF was gifted with the $4,870 Brembo with Black roof package, pricey but good for track duty. The Brembo brakes really haul down this tiny car, and the special BBS wheels are lighter and look cool.

Inside you also get heated Recaro seats that tend to hug you and keep you planted snugly in the seats during spirited driving. Space for taller riders is lacking so make sure you fit before you buy.

This RF really is a delight to drive hard. The handling is very tight and the limits are higher than other Miata models. You feel more of the road with the RF version so it’s a more firm ride. It may be a bit much for some drivers. Joy is a corner in the RF Club version and the faster the better.

The track is the best place to explore the limits of this model. More power for 2019 means the MX-5 is quicker than before, now with 181 horsepower and it’s just what this car needed to wake it up. No more sleepy acceleration. This feels more alive when you hit gas.

You don’t spend much at the pump as this is an easy 31 mpg car even when you’re having fun.

The manual transmission is a joy and a gift for those who want to row your own.

The RF version of the MX-5 Miata sees the biggest change in the roof. It trades the soft top for a nifty retractable roof. It’s more of a Targa top that folds away from above the cockpit leaving a fixed rear roof section.

This version is good for those who want a little less of the outdoors or maybe plan on driving year round. It would certainly be a bit more manageable in colder climates with a metal roof in place.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring.

The big difference between the RF and the Grand Touring is the soft top. It’s a simple one-hand operation. You pull a handle down and push back until the top locks down in the car. Three seconds later you have an open-air machine. This is the version I prefer as you have a full open-air experience. Ask me that question in late October and my choice might change.

The large touchscreen and NAV are standard with the $33,000 car.

Whether top up or down, the noise is less than in previous generations of this little drop top. But there is more wind and road noise compared to the RF version of the MX-5. Vision is slightly reduced with the soft top but this is one of the easier convertibles to see out of. You just have to get used to being the smallest and one of the lower cars on the road in a sea of tall trucks and crossovers.

This is the Miata that’s good for all-day driving with a touch more luxury baked in on the inside. There are heated leather seats and it even has speakers in the headrest.

This is a small car, so the storage is limited, yet lockable. It features removable cup holders, which are a bit strange but can be taken out — freeing up valuable space.

No matter what Mazda MX-5 you choose a more fun motoring experience will be the result. Whether you want a soft-top convertible or a modern retractable metal roof, the 2019 Miata is a modern take on a classic roadster that will provide years of fun.

Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by DriveShop, FMI, NAVS DC or Motus One for the purpose of this review.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2019 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up