The 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata is certainly fun to drive, and it starts at less than $25,000. With only minor design tweaks from the 2014 version, this sleek two-seat convertible will put the wind in your hair and your hand happily on the gearshift.
The 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata represents the last year before a major redesign that’s coming for the 2016 model year. While it’s not the fastest or most powerful sports car, the 2015 Miata is small and light enough to zip along the road, with a suspension that’s tuned for responsiveness. The Mazda Miata is available in Sport, Club and Grand Touring trims, as well as a 25th Anniversary edition. All are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. You get the choice between a manually retractable soft top and a power retractable hardtop, as well as manual and automatic transmissions.
Slung low to the ground with a long front end, clean lines and rounded edges all around, the 2015 MX-5 Miata is an icon of minimalist design. It recalls the classic British roadster of the mid-20th Century, as well as the instantly popular first generation Miata of the early 1990s. Narrow cat’s eye headlights flank a distinctive scooped grille that’s shaped like a smile. Our test Grand Touring model came with chrome that trims the headlights and door handles. The 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels boast a distinctive five-spoke design that adds an upscale touch. On the Club trim the spokes are simpler and the 17-inch wheels have a matte finish.
The 2015 Miata undoubtedly looks its best with the top down, revealing sporty seats each backed by a thick sport bar.
The Miata Grand Touring’s two-tone black and brown leather-trimmed seats are comfortable and sporty, with high headrests that provide added comfort, safety, and a sense of enclosure when the top is down. Leather door panel inserts are also a nice touch on the Grand Touring trim. Black leather covers the steering wheel, shifter and parking break handle. The unadorned dashboard is a pebbled soft-touch surface, as are the armrests.
Power controls for the sideview mirrors and door locks are on the driver’s door, while windows controls are found on the console.
The gas tank cover release is hidden behind a panel between the two seat backs. A sliding panel can also neatly cover the central cup holders. Control buttons and knobs are kept to the essentials to avoid clutter. Buttons are raised and rounded, steering wheel-mounted controls are discrete toggles and three large knobs with clear markings let you dial in your climate preferences.
The driver’s seat has six adjustments and the passenger seat has four. Both are operated manually and neither offers much room to recline. The seats are heated in the Grand Touring model. Super thin sun visors are designed tuck against the roof when they’re raised so they don’t reduce visibility. When pulled down, they do narrow your view of the road ahead, so you are better off with a good pair of sunglasses.
The Miata comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on higher trims, and all Miata models are available with a six-speed automatic. The four-cylinder engine delivers 167 horsepower when paired with a manual transmission, or 158 horsepower with the automatic.
The base Miata gets an EPA estimated 22/28 mpg city/highway. Models with the six-speed manual or automatic transmission are rated at 21/28 mpg city/highway.
We enjoyed our test Miata Grand Touring’s short-throw six-speed manual transmission. Manual shifting is quite smooth and the clutch is easy to engage. On automatic models, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters that let you upshift or downshift at will.
Sitting close to the road (and with no hood rising into your view), you might compare driving the Miata to racing a go-kart, if you’ve ever done that. The steering offers excellent feedback and the upgraded sport-tuned suspension in our test Miata handled curves nicely.
The 2015 Mazda Miata comes standard with air conditioning, power windows and a six-speaker stereo. The Club trim adds power door locks, keyless entry and cruise control. The Grand Touring model includes automatic climate control and a Bose sound system. Our test Miata also had an optional Premium package, which adds Bluetooth (phone only) and proximity key with push-button start.
There is no touch-screen audio system to disrupt the Miata’s minimalist interior aesthetic. Instead, dedicated buttons and a small display control the stereo. Sharp analog gauges for speed, rpm, fuel, temperature and oil pressure are easy to read at a glance through the steering wheel.
The 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata has not been evaluated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The Miata comes standard with stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes and a suite of air bags. However, driver assistance features such as a rearview camera, forward collision warning and blind spot monitoring are unavailable on the 2015 Miata.
The 2015 Mazda Miata starts at just under $24,000, which makes it competitively priced among the current crop of affordable sports cars. Rivals like the 2015 Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro start at around the same price, while sports cars like the base Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ are slightly more expensive.
Historically, Miatas hold their value well, in part, because so many Miata owners hang on to their cars and expect top dollar if they do sell them. This enviable convertible’s cost-effectiveness is stellar when you consider how well it performs for the price.
While the 2015 Miata may fall short in terms of available tech features, it is nicely designed and trumps more expensive cars with its fun-to-drive nature. Enthusiasts who dream of owning a convertible have embraced the Mazda Miata for 25 years because it is affordable, stylish and fun to drive. The 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata continues this legacy.