2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review - Driving Distilled

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club

Powertrain
2.0-liter twincam four (181hp @ 7,000 rpm, 151lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm)
Transmission
Six-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive
Fuel Economy, MPG
26 city / 34 highway / 29 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
Fuel Economy, L/100km
9.0 city / 7.0 highway / 8.1 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price
Base Price: $31,815 US / $39,277 CAN
As Tested
As Tested: $36,910 US / $43,977 CAN
Disclaimer
Prices include $1,015 destination charge in the United States and $1,977 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.
2022 mazda mx 5 miata review driving distilled


They’re coming for our cars. It may not be tomorrow, but indicators point toward a future where personal transportation options may be severely restricted. Gleaming alloy air-cars two lanes wide may be our transportation solution going forward.


From my stringback-gloved hands, I proclaim. While I’ll take the train should my commute dictate, I still find both solace and pleasure in engaging with a genuine driver’s car. A car that doesn’t need a “SPORT MODE” button conspicuously glaring next to the CVT drive selector knob. In the 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata, the start button IS the sport mode.


The 2022 model year brings perhaps the most significant change to the Miata since the midcycle refresh of 2019 gave us more power and a tilt steering column. This year, Mazda adds standard Kinematic Posture Control to the Miata. It’s a technology that will add a bit of braking to the inside rear wheel during high-speed cornering. This, in conjunction with the anti-squat suspension design already on the Miata, helps to minimize body roll and make the steering feel even better.

Mazda notes that the new KPC tech adds no additional weight to the Miata - the suspension itself remains the same, as the change is strictly in software tuning. I dunno - I think I feel the extra grams of the extra lines of code in there in my finely-tuned butt dyno.

Of course, I’m kidding. Driving this Miata feels like driving any other Miata - it’s pure joy. Yeah, it may be a tick faster around a closed course than last year’s car, and it may technically be quicker even on a back road. But without driving each one back to back all day long (Mazda, if you wanna send me both cars for extensive testing, I’ll be sure to report back) I honestly doubt any normal human can feel the difference.


The remarkable thing about any unmodified Miata (unmodified is doing heavy lifting here, as I think about the lowered first-gen Miata in my garage) is the genuinely good ride quality. While pockmarked pavement and expansion-jointed interstates will always be felt in a car this small and light, it's not a tiring thing to go for a long drive even on the slab. If you fit well enough inside, there's no reason to not hit the highway should the need arise.

The Club package fitted to my tester is somewhat in the midrange of the Miata lineup. Mechanically, it's set apart from the base Sport trim by Bilstein dampers, a limited-slip differential, and a front shock tower brace. Visually, gloss black spoilers front and rear are the big differentiators. Inside, wireless Apple CarPlay is fitted to the Club package atop the standard wired Android Auto.

Interior accommodations remain tight. It’s a roadster, after all. The Recaro seats - included in the $4,500 Brembo/BBS/Recaro package that (unsurprisingly) includes Brembo front brake calipers, BBS 17” forged wheels, and heated Recaro chairs - are supportive without pinching hips too aggressively. The knob control for the infotainment system remains less intuitive than the touchscreens fitted to nearly every other car. The cupholders are crap.


But you don’t buy a Miata for the tunes or for Big Gulp capacity. You buy the Miata for the way it makes you feel when you slip behind the wheel and drop the top. Whether setting out on an adventure to some remote twisties or simply taking the long way home from work on a sunny afternoon, there is something magical about the connection between the car and the driver. A Supertramp office escape after a miserable Monday helps to flush the negativity away, leaving me with a new hairstyle and perhaps something of a grin.

The automotive landscape looks bleak. We face the future with battery-laden high-tech machines weighing upwards of three tons, all theoretically capable of something approaching ludicrous speed assuming tires and road are communicating properly. But the 2022 Mazda MX-5 leaves the giants stranded at the riverside, giving us one last gasp at driving enjoyment.

[Images: © 2022 Chris Tonn]

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  • Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen on Aug 09, 2022

    Boyo boyo we surely LOVE the 95M we bought sight unseen (hell, I'd never even been IN one much less DRIVEN one) last year. What a treat these cars are! As for infotainment, I think the cassette and maybe the CD work but neither compares to the feeling of enjoyment.

    Mrs. F and I are both around 5'9" and slender and you're right; you don't DRIVE a Miata as much as you WEAR it.


  • Kcflyer Kcflyer on Aug 09, 2022

    Son has about 3000 miles on his ND now. I've only driven it a handful of times. Great car. I'm biased but I don't think it has the charm of my NB. Much quicker and that's always fun but not really the point of the Miata. If you want Miata goodness but are a little bigger check out the NC miata's. More room for people and a bit more room for stuff. Fuel mileage in the new one is around 38 mpg as compared to 30ish in the 05 nb.

  • FreedMike Can the final last call edition be the Secretary Special, with a V6 and a vinyl roof?
  • FreedMike I’ve never heard of this so I’ll have no problem not attending.
  • ToolGuy As I understand it, the Toyota Prius basically lasts forever because the engine gets a gentle duty cycle and the battery gets babied. This seems like the opposite of that.[Impressive tech, not for me, but then neither is the Prius.]
  • Dusterdude Excellent work ! Your stories are always linguistically interesting . Even if you weren’t writing about a quirky car on a long and adventuresome journey - I know your write up would still be interesting ! ( I also have a Soft spot for large cars - as my daily driver is a 2000 Chrysler Concorde )
  • MaintenanceCosts There have always been just two reasons to buy AMG cars: the menacing, hard-edged V8 warble, and the styling with subtle shapes but perfectly aggressive details. This is missing both of those things: the styling has gotten cartoonishly aggressive, and the engine will sound like a fart-can Civic. I don't understand why I should want it.
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