2020 Mazda MX-5 Club new car reviews

Is the Miata still the one to beat? Since the 2020 model remains virtually unchanged from the first ND2 that we originally tested in 2018, here's what remains true: 181 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque that can be sent to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

We were given the keys to a soft-top 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club. What does this get you? Performance-wise, you'll get a limited-slip differential, Bilstein dampers, 17-inch wheels, a front shock tower brace, and an "Induction Sound Enhancer"—but only if the six-speed manual is selected on the build sheet.

Pricing for the Club starts at $29,950, which is pretty comparable to the 86 Hakone Edition's $29,945. Just something to think about.

Other staff views

Chris Tropea ChrisTropea
Associate Editor

I have always heard Miata is the answer in our world, and, after driving this one, I see why. On the road it is a very comfortable ride and a joy to drive around town.

I was not completely sure what to expect as this was my first MX-5 driving experience, but I fully enjoyed driving this car. While it is not the fastest or most practical car available right now, the MX-5 still makes a lot of sense for someone looking for a fun car that you can drive around town and take to the track.

After driving it for a few days I can completely see why this car has been a staple in our world for so long. Plus, the top goes down, how can you beat that?

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Perfection. The end. Fight me.

How so? It’s a great chassis that’s only like a set of dampers away from being a stellar chassis.

And the power perfectly fits that foundation. Some say that it can use more power. I just say that it forces me to better hit my marks.

I even used the relatively new tilt wheel function.

Everything I have said before about the ND still holds water. The MX-5 still captures every single thing that I have always loved about the Miata. It’s the right size with the right feel and the right composure. Plus, it looks good.

It’s not a fire-breathing monster. It’s not the fastest supercar ever built.

It’s a Miata, the spiritual successor to the European sports cars that totally rewrote history. It’s a car that’s relaxed enough for the daily commute and properly balanced for whatever spirited activity cars, whether that’s national-level autocross or some miles through the mountains.

Can it go on a road trip? When the ND first came out, I drove one from Tire Rack’s HQ up in South Bend down here to our Florida home. Most of it was done with the top down. The car handled the mission without complaint. And we arrived feeling pretty okay–which is impressive because we had just spent a few days hoofing it.

Closing argument: It’s really pretty perfect.

J.G. Pasterjak JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

I really wanted to like the 2020 Mazda MX-5 Club more than I did, because, you know, it’s a Miata, and Miatas are inherently good at what they do. But I think the thing that left me feeling kind of bleh about it in general was the fact that I drove it back to back with a Toyota 86, and that car felt wired into my nervous system in a way that this MX5 didn’t quite manage.

Yeah, it looks great (although it’s too high) and the top goes down, if you’re into that sort of thing, and it has a gem of an engine and transmission, but the chassis is not doing it for me. There’s LOADS of body roll, and even though the ApexPro data showed that the MX-5 leans into a corner and takes a set pretty definitively, the large amount of roll make it seem to take forever for the car to reach peak grip. For a car that’s supposed to be driver-centric, it’s hardly a confidence-inspiring feel.

That said, there’s a great chassis hiding behind those soft springs and shocks without enough rebound. This is a car begging, pleading, for a little bit of a massage. I totally get why so many MX5s have invaded the lightly-modified ranks of SCCA Street touring autocross competition. Just a little roll control and you get all the benefit of that excellent chassis without the slow-feeling reactions brought on by the extreme softness.

On the street, the MX-5 is less noticeably wallowy than on the track. But, again, its cramped interior plays second fiddle to the roomier 86, which has a better seating position and better sightlines. But the 86 doesn’t have a top that you can put down without even leaving the driver’s seat. Top-down motoring the MX-5 natural state. It’s a topless car that can raise some protection, not a closed car that can let the top down. Even the press car delivery guy drops the top as soon as he hops in the car to head back to the fleet depot, and that tells you a lot about how natural and right the MX-5 feels sans roof.

At one point, Miata was THE answer. It’s still most definitely AN answer, but it’s got competition.

Join Free Join our community to easily find more articles.
Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
5/27/20 9:59 a.m.

What if I don't want the stupid induction sound enhancer??

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/27/20 10:05 a.m.

I have a question for the floor: This or the 86/BRZ? Or even a Civic Si? 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
5/27/20 10:16 a.m.
Tom1200 said:

What if I don't want the stupid induction sound enhancer??

(triumphant flourish) https://www.flyinmiata.com/verus-sound-tube-delete.html 

Ironically, about all most intake "upgrades" do is increase induction noise.

About the Brembo/BBS package on the test car - you can get better brakes and better wheels on the aftermarket for less than the price of that kit. The cute little "aero" parts around the bottom of the car are nice, though. We added them to all our cars.

Interesting that you guys think the car is underdamped, because the original shock valving for the Club suspension was waaaaay overdamped. Felt sporty if you think that constant jiggling is sporty. The soft tops got the revised Club suspension in 2018 and it's a big improvement, much more compliant. This car also has the upgraded steering rack that was introduced in 2017 on the RF and 2018 on the soft tops - Mazda never made a fuss about it in press releases, but it has much improved on-center feel.

As for this vs 86 - do you like the top to go down? That's a fundamental question if you care, because it is a clear dividing line. And if you still play with Transformers, you want the Civic :) Or maybe if you need more than two seats. Another clear dividing line.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
5/27/20 10:50 a.m.
David S. Wallens said:

I have a question for the floor: This or the 86/BRZ? Or even a Civic Si? 

I'm with Keith, do you want a convertible? Miata it is. Want a hardtop, BRZ. 

Civic Si, sporty FWD cars don't interest me that much after having owned a '10 Speed3. Fun little car, but would not hook up and when it did it torque steered like crazy. As a fun car with useable hatch space it was great. 

Maybe the next-gen STi will bring back the hatch.

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
5/27/20 12:33 p.m.

Do you want a questionable flat-four, or a rock solid inline four?

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/27/20 12:52 p.m.

Must not drive.....  will buy.....

MrFancypants
MrFancypants Reader
5/27/20 12:53 p.m.

I want more colors. :(

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/27/20 1:34 p.m.
MrFancypants said:

I want more colors. :(

I want colors.....  that's my biggest beef with Mazda.  You can get a Miata in any color you can get an SUV too :(.

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
5/27/20 1:42 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood:

I would absolutely take a MX5 over the twins and if I needed more space and a roof over my head I'd opt for the Civic. 

 

In reply to z31maniac :

you should drive any of the most recent FWD pocket rockets. they're far superior cars to the MS3 in how they drive and their dynamics. 

the Gen 2 MS3 was a 2005 design in a new suit. they were great cars when they came out, but the rest of the market got better as the speed3 aged. 

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
5/27/20 1:43 p.m.
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) said:
MrFancypants said:

I want more colors. :(

I want colors.....  that's my biggest beef with Mazda.  You can get a Miata in any color you can get an SUV too :(.

Not even. There's a blue on the smaller CXs that would look great on the Miata. I've been harassing Mazda about getting the blue equivalent to Soul Red since the ND showed up. One of their PR guys even quit and went to a doomed EV startup to get away from me. At least, that's my theory.

Danny Shields (Forum Supporter)
Danny Shields (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
5/27/20 1:45 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

I have a question for the floor: This or the 86/BRZ? Or even a Civic Si? 

I thought Miata was always the Answer. Unless you need a roof or back seat.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
5/27/20 2:02 p.m.
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) said:

you should drive any of the most recent FWD pocket rockets. they're far superior cars to the MS3 in how they drive and their dynamics. 

the Gen 2 MS3 was a 2005 design in a new suit. they were great cars when they came out, but the rest of the market got better as the speed3 aged. 

The only FWD "pocket rocket" that intrigues me in the slightest is the Veloster N with the Performance Package.

 

MrFancypants
MrFancypants Reader
5/27/20 3:08 p.m.
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) said:
MrFancypants said:

I want more colors. :(

I want colors.....  that's my biggest beef with Mazda.  You can get a Miata in any color you can get an SUV too :(.

It's frustrating. When I walk into a Mazda dealership I want to feel like I'm drowning in a bag of Skittles. Instead there's gray, gray, black, white, grayish blue, dark red.....

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/27/20 6:14 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) said:
MrFancypants said:

I want more colors. :(

I want colors.....  that's my biggest beef with Mazda.  You can get a Miata in any color you can get an SUV too :(.

Not even. There's a blue on the smaller CXs that would look great on the Miata. I've been harassing Mazda about getting the blue equivalent to Soul Red since the ND showed up. One of their PR guys even quit and went to a doomed EV startup to get away from me. At least, that's my theory.

I miss colors......  you want a nice color you have to special order something real expensive.  I almost went hunting for the anniversary orange, but 35k: ouch.

Shaun
Shaun Dork
5/27/20 9:27 p.m.

Colors?......

Snrub
Snrub HalfDork
5/27/20 9:32 p.m.

ND vs. the 86? No contest, ND is a riot to drive. Even if you would prefer a roof, the driving difference is worth the compromise.

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
5/27/20 9:54 p.m.
z31maniac said:
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) said:

you should drive any of the most recent FWD pocket rockets. they're far superior cars to the MS3 in how they drive and their dynamics. 

the Gen 2 MS3 was a 2005 design in a new suit. they were great cars when they came out, but the rest of the market got better as the speed3 aged. 

The only FWD "pocket rocket" that intrigues me in the slightest is the Veloster N with the Performance Package.

 

good car, but a Focus ST is pretty much a better car in every way to the MS3, and the new Civic Si can be just as fast with a plug in tune and the civic is absolutely a better car in every way to the MS3, minus the lack of a hatch. and both of those are significantly cheaper than the hyundai. 

bswanny
bswanny New Reader
6/2/20 6:48 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

I have a question for the floor: This or the 86/BRZ? Or even a Civic Si? 

BRZ because the 86 has a nervous front lip, Miata is to tight for my length and expensive to get a lsd on a sports car.., and the Civic SI is hideous and has some of the worst rev hang. Also no I wont tune my brand new car to lose its warranty to get rid of the rev hang. However I spoke with my money and bought a used 370Z over all of these. I like torque

Our Preferred Partners
nw96Nn6fi4q5DL3veulV7TNvaJRaKz6jWqmyp1xUsoF28KC5jMZ88JuuTd2CBqOK