2023 Mazda MX-5 Review: Commoving Commuter Conundrum

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee

Love It

Leave It

Fun to Drive

Infotainment Needs Update

Fuel Economy for a Roadster

Top-Up Sight Lines

Easy to Park

The Mazda MX-5 Miata has been reviewed countless times by us, in countless ways. There have been summer tests, track tests, winter tests, and comparison tests. As a perennial favorite among the staff here, we never pass up an opportunity to drive it.

A couple of weeks ago one of those opportunities arrived again. The vehicle I was set to review was unavailable, so I began calling around to see what else I could get my hands on. Mazda had an available vehicle, a shiny red a 2023 Mazda Miata Club (GS-P in Canada).

Eager as always to drive a MX-5, there was a conundrum. I can’t just book and drive vehicles willy-nilly. There needs to be a reason, a business case if you will, as to why I’m reviewing said vehicle. Looking at my schedule that week, I quickly found the answer.

Unlike most of my weeks, the days ahead were unusually busy. I would have to commute from the suburbs into the heart of Toronto four times in four days. Anyone who has had to do the daily slog into a major metropolitan area knows how much of a grind that drive is. My goal was to see if one of the most fun cars to drive, a 2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata, could brighten up my day in stop-and-go traffic.

It's Got Size, Or Lack There Of

The Mazda MX-5 has always been diminutive, and the current generation is no exception. At 154.1-inches (3,914 mm) long, 68.3-inches (1,918 mm) wide, and 48.8-inches (1,240 mm) high, it’s easy to stuff the car into virtually any parking spot. Places even a Honda Civic might not fit the MX-5 slides into with ease.

The narrow body also boosts confidence when navigating delivery-truck-clogged side streets. Places that I wouldn’t dare approach with a CX-5 SUV, I could easily, and confidently, wedge the roadster through.

As a bonus, the car is also quite the looker. Even if the basic design has been around for nearly a decade, it has aged incredibly well. The Soul Red paint, black roof, and dark BBS wheels complement each other. The headlights and tail lamps still feel modern and the entire front fascia looks aggressive.

It’s Mostly Comfortable

Inside, headroom lists at 37.4-inches (950 mm) with the roof up, or unlimited when the top is down. Those just over six-feet tall will fit comfortable behind the wheel, thanks in part to 43.1-inches (1,095 mm) of legroom. My tester includes the upgraded Recaro seats which are not only supportive, but quite liveable. Cargo space is in short supply, with only 4.59 cubic feet (130 L) available.

The convertible soft top insulates well. During a wintery week of driving, it held in heat and no drafts could be felt. A lot of road noise does make its way into the cabin though, especially at freeway speeds.

As should be expected in a true driver’s car the manual gear shifter, pedals, and steering wheel are in the proper places for maximum control. The clutch is light and shifter easy to engage, a welcome trait when stuck in slow moving traffic. It's important to note that the pedals are close together, which is fantastic for heel-toe shifting, but makes driving with winter boots a chore as it’s easy to depress the gas and brake pedal simultaneously.

Perhaps the best part of MX-5 is where the driver sits in relation to the rest of the car. With the Recaros positioned mere inches in front of the rear tires, it feels like Mazda is rotating around with the driver. The axis in which the car turns feels right around when the driver’s butt is planted. This enables an enhanced feeling of control.

Maneuverable and Fun

Having that feeling of control is exceptional in a car so well-tuned for fun. Included on my tester are the optional Brembo front brake calipers painted red, Bilstein shocks, a shock tower brace, and sport tuned suspension.

With a mere 2,341 pounds (1,069 kg) to toss around, the MX-5 changes direction at the flick of the wrist. The 52:48 front to rear weight distribution and limited-slip rear differential ensure the car responds to the driver’s commands promptly and accurately.

It makes the most gruelling commute still fun. I enjoy driving the MX-5 no matter the circumstance. The dread I usually feel encountering the usual bottlenecks is partially alleviated.

Being the middle of winter, the stock rubber on our tester was replaced with 205/45R17 Michelin winter tires. Know what though? It only adds to the fun. Less grippy tires means more fun playing with the limits of adhesion. In a few inches of snow, the MX-5 is wholly capable and again, I can’t find any better word to use than fun. Of course, when several inches of the white stuff accumulate on the ground, it’s probably best to leave this roadster at home.

It’s Efficient and Peppy

A small, lightweight car doesn’t need a ton of power. Well-matched to the chassis is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. It can be paired to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Of course, the manual is the way to go in a fun-mobile like this.

Eager to rev, power isn’t overwhelming, but ratter peppy and instantaneous. It’s a great ally when trying to shoot for a quickly closing gap in thick traffic.

Being a small four-cylinder motivating a light roadster, fuel economy is quite admirable. Officially, the 2023 MX-5 is rated at 26 mpg (9.0 L/100 km) in city driving and 34 mpg (7.0 L/100 km) on the highway. Automatic transmissions improve these figures by 1 mpg. During my week of mixed highway, stop and go, and spirited driving, I averaged 30.9 mpg (7.5 L/100 km).

Obviously, this is not as efficient as the regular batch of purpose-built commuter cars, especially hybrids. But I can’t think of anything that delivers nearly 31 mpg in real world, winter driving, that also matches the fun of the Miata.

The Upcoming Technology Update Will Be Welcome

Although the mechanics and styling have held up well over the past 9 or so years, the technology inside has not. Only the top trim MX-5 has an automatic climate control, while mid-trim vehicles like my tester still use manual dials. The seven-inch infotainment screen looks small by today’s standards and there is no wireless Android Auto. In the USA, my trim should have wireless Apple CarPlay, but there is no mention of it for the Canadian version. Regardless if it is there or not, I never got it to work. The graphics and software also feel a generation old.

A lot of these complaints should be addressed with the 2024 update that includes a larger infotainment screen, Mazda’s newer software, and wireless connectivity. As well, most of the basic technology is included inside like heated seats, cruise control, and BOSE 9 speaker sound system. We also appreciate the blindspot monitoring as rearward sight-lines are cut off when the soft top is raised.

The Verdict

A basic 2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata starts at a price of $30,150 ($38,650 CAD) including destination charges. The mid trim Sport with the $4,800 Brembo/BBS Recaro Package clocks in at $39,150, once again including destination charges. The mid-level Canadian trim is called the GS-P, and with the additional $4,400 Sport packages, lists for $44,645. It does lack the rear spoiler and skirt package, of its American counterpart however.

Whether or not this is a value is a matter of one’s perspective. The MX-5 wouldn’t be an ideal commuter car for those on a tight budget, need to carry multiple passengers, or can only have a single, practical vehicle.

But, for enthusiastic drivers not interested in taking their pricier, larger, or fuel guzzling vehicles into the city, the small, efficient, nimble, and easy to park MX-5 could be the answer.

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2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata Sport


9 / 10


8 / 10

Handling and Drivability

10 / 10

Passenger Comfort

8 / 10

Ride Quality

4 / 5

Exterior Style

5 / 5

Interior Style and Quality

4 / 5


6 / 10

Cargo Capacity and Towing

2 / 5


4 / 5


9 / 10

Emotional Appeal

10 / 10


83 / 100

Fast Facts


2.0-liter four-cylinder


181 hp, 151 lb-ft





Fuel Economy (mpg):

26 city, 34 highway

Fuel Economy (L/100 km):

9.0 city, 7.0 highway

Starting Price (USD):


As Tested (USD):


Starting Price (CAD):


As Tested (CAD):


Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

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