In what could have been my final time reviewing a current-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, I’ll have to say it was like saying a bittersweet farewell to an old friend. You see, the third-generation Miata (NC) is my favorite iteration of the fun little roadster, and with the next Miata being co-developed with Alfa Romeo, I fear the car might lose some of the “jinba ittai” that has made it incredible track car for the last 23 years. If this was to be my last extended drive in the MX-5 Miata, I couldn’t have asked for a better send-off with it being a black-on-red tester with a soft top, manual transmission and the all-new Club trim level.
Perhaps as a tip of its proverbial hat to the car’s cult following among club racers, the 2013 model year for the MX-5 Miata sees the new Club model replace the Touring trim level in the middle of the car’s lineup. This new model should also be a welcomed sight for buyers who were late in snagging one of the 450 Miata Special Edition units that were sent to the US this year, and with a starting price of $26,705, it is substantially less than the Special Edition car. Like the Special Edition, though, the Club comes with black wheels and black door mirrors, and other key elements helped give the car an eye-catching look that got the car noticed almost everywhere I took it.
- The first thing I notice every time I drive a Miata is how balanced the car feels. A low curb weight (less than 2,500 pounds) and an almost perfectly even weight distribution make the car fun to drive in just about any conditions.
- More fun, of course, is driving with the top down, and the Miata’s manual soft top has to be one of the simplest tops to operate in the history of convertibles. One central latch holds it in place, and it is light and hassle-free to raise and lower. You can even just reach back while at a stop light and raise the roof in about five seconds with one hand.
- The six-speed manual transmission not only makes the Miata more engaging to drive, it also gives the car more power. Cars equipped with the automatic transmission are rated at 158 horsepower and those with the manual get 167 ponies under the hood, and while I’ve yet to drive an automatic Miata, at no point does the manual’s power feel insufficient. Even better, it is still decent on gas with fuel economy numbers 21 miles per gallon city and 28 highway; I had no problems hitting either number even with a healthy dose of spirited driving.
- Aside from maybe a Tesla Roadster, there are few cars on the road that feel as small as the Miata. To some, this might be a good thing, but when the average SUV bumper is at face level and getting into and out of the car feels like it should be a part of the Insanity Workout, the Miata might not be an ideal primary vehicle.
- The 2013 Miata Club represents a slight price increase ($875) over the 2012 Miata Touring, but what you get is a truly unique look without having to make any modifications yourself. The Gunmetal Black 17-inch wheels do a lot for the car, but the Club also gets black side stripes, black headlights, a front lip spoiler, rear diffuser, “Club” fender badges and chrome trunk brackets; inside, the instrument panel gets a new body-color-matching insert and red stitching to accent the black seats.
- In today’s tech-savvy world, the Miata’s option list is devoid of many options available on most entry-level cars, but for a car that shouldn’t even have cupholders (especially on the manual-equipped models), the lack of technology inside the Miata makes the car feel even more raw and refreshing.