My review of the 2021 Mazda MX-5 is a little bit of a love story. Because I fell in love with this car probably two decades ago. And after my latest foray with the Mazda MX-5 (better known as the Miata), I’m a little heartbroken, but probably not for the reasons you’d think.
A Little Mazda History
This fun little roadster first appeared in our lives in 1989, looking only a little bit different than it does today. It was never meant to be a sports car. It was always a driver’s car.
Think Sunday drives on back country roads and you’ve found the sweet spot for the Miata. After 30 years, their core audience remains the same. It’s a fun little car to drive if leisure driving is your thing. And after four different generations, owners no longer have to contend with folding headlights or cloudy vinyl rear windows.
Today’s Miata, the 2021 Mazda MX-5 is part of the fourth generation introduced in 2015. Not only did this generation see a refinement is some of the classic design elements but it also saw the engine upgrade to 181 horsepower 4-cylinder engine.
To take a closer look at the new MX-5, I decided to follow a little American History.
Road Trip to Monocacy Battlefield
WIthin an hour of my home, I can visit the sites of three major Civil War battlefields, including Gettysburg, Antietam, and Monocacy. They are famously spread out and perfect for a driving tour.
Since there’s only room for one passenger, I took my son along with me for a ride on the highway (with the top up), a lovely lunch near the Monocacy River, and an afternoon touring and filming in and around the Monocacy Battlefield.
Known as the Battle That Saved Washington, the Union soldiers held their ground on July 9, 1864 forcing the Confederate soldiers to ultimately retreat to Virginia. But not before a lot of fighting and bloodshed.
The property where much of the Battle of Monocacy took place was privately owned after the war but a national monument was established in the 1970s and the area welcome visitors. In fact, they recommend a self-guided auto tour, a perfect place for a convertible!
Sites we visited included:
- Monocacy Battlefield Visitor Center
- Best Farm
- Worthington Farm
- Thomas Farm
- Gambrill Mill
What I Loved About the 2021 Mazda MX-5
Having a roadster makes you want to drive. You want to get behind the wheel every chance you get. Need something at the grocery store? I’m on it. Trying to entertain a teen? Let’s GO!
This MX-5 had a 6-speed manual transmission (available on all trims, as is automatic) so it was the perfect car to really talk to your teen about driving. It’s been years since I regularly drove a stick shift and this 6-speed was fun, easy, and very responsive. The only thing I had to get used to was shifting at lower RPMs than I’m used to.
With 181 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque, it’s a zippy responsive car. And with the low center of gravity and the driver-centric engineering, the handling is ridiculously good. I took the curvy roads home because they were oh-so-much-more fun.
Although the horsepower isn’t impressive in terms of numbers. Mazda continues to make the Miata more lightweight and nimble by adding torque-sensing limited slip-differential and using aluminum for the engine block, cylinder head, and the hood and trunk.
Because this was the Grand Touring trim level, it came equipped with almost everything you could want – a 7.9″ screen, leather trimmed seats, upgraded audio (Bose 9 speaker), wireless Apple CarPlay, and heated seats (a great way to extend convertible season).
It’s also beautiful. The model I drive included the Snowflake White Pearl Mica (a $395 upgrade) with a gray roof (1 $200 upgrade) and gorgeous 17″ wheels.
So why aren’t I in love? There are just a few teeny tiny problems.
Why the 2021 Mazda MX-5 Broke My Heart
I could tell you that the Grand Touring price tag of $33,360 is a little high for a fun “weekend” car. And that would be true. I could tell you that the recommended premium fuel drives up the cost of driving as well. I could also mention that the seats don’t have lumbar support.
And the cupholders definitely aren’t my favorite.
The real reason is that the Mazda MX-5 hasn’t really changed all that much… but I have.
I still love the zippiness behind the wheel. And the proportions are absolutely perfect for someone my size (5’3″). It’s easy to put the top up and down. And I can even live with the small trunk space, tiny console, and odd glove compartment (between the two seats).
I’m older and, dare I say, a wee bit bigger than I was in 2017 when I last reviewed the Mazda MX-5 RF. Sitting close to the steering wheel to reach the clutch and sitting lower to the ground makes for an fantastic driving experience but when the car stops, getting in and out isn’t quite as fun as it used to be.
I guess that’s why I call it a motorcycle on four wheels. This is definitely a car that’s perfect for leisurely Sunday drives.
Video Review of the 2021 Mazda MX-5
Take a tour of the Mazda MX-5 and see more of the Monocacy Battlefield as I take you with me on the self-guided driving tour!