More power. Although displacement remains the same for the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata, the automaker has done some serious tweaking of the 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G engine's vitals (pistons, connecting rods, crankshaft, flywheel, exhaust manifold), and upped injector pressure for more power, and swapped in a new muffler. The engine happily revs to 7,500 (up from 6,800), while horsepower stands at 181 (up from 155).
The result is an upping of the already high engagement factor between driver and machine with higher revs, greater speed, and a more robust sound.
Ride and handling. The Miata is the perfect small sports car. Handling is sharp, and throttle response is immediate. Feedback through the steering wheel (which now tilts and telescopes) and brake pedal is spectacular, and the slick six-speed manual transmission and firm-but-not-stiff clutch (our choice) make the MX-5 drivable in stop-and-go traffic, while back roads corners are carved with the precision of a surgeon.
You can firm up the double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension by choosing a manually-equipped Club or Grand Touring model – the latter equipped with the optional GT-S package. But consider both with caution, unless track days are the highlight of your calendar.
Good fuel economy. Despite the increase in power, fuel economy remains the same as last year. Manually-equipped models score an EPA-estimated 26 miles per gallon in the city, 34 mpg on the highway, and 29 combined for either the convertible or RF hardtop. Drop in the slightly-less-entertaining automatic, and those figures rise slightly to 26/35/30 mpg (city/highway/combined). For comparison, the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are rated at 24 mpg combined with manual transmissions and 27 combined with automatics.
Lovely to look at. Perfectly proportioned from its beginnings with a long hood and short trunk, the newest generation, unveiled three years ago, adds a number of expressive touches with sharper creases, slim, rakish headlights, bulging fenders, and a flat trunk that accentuates the concave upper rear fascia.
Likewise, the cozy interior is restrained without looking spartan. The shifter falls easily to hand, the pedals are perfectly placed for heel-and-toe shifting, while the highly-sculpted body-colored door sills bring some of the outside inside.
At the same time, the touchscreen looks out of place, the infotainment software is kludgy, the cup holders are hilariously out of reach, the 12-volt outlet is located in the passenger's footwell, while the infotainment controller is placed directly under the driver's forearm – more than once we unintentionally changed radio stations and the audio source.
Final thoughts. A modern interpretation of the classic British roadster, the fun and affordable 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata is the perfect second vehicle, even in winter (a fact we can attest to, provided you install a good set of winter tires). But aside from the obvious size and practicality constraints, the awkward placement of the infotainment controls and the oddly-placed cupholders detract from what is otherwise a spectacular driving experience.
Looking at the short list of competitors, the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ have more horsepower, more interior room and, with the rear seat folded, more cargo space. The Nissan 370Z Roadster brings 332 horsepower to the table, while the Mini Cooper Convertible (the Roadster is no longer produced) offers better fuel economy.