I fell in love with the Mazda MX-5 Miata in 1994 once I rented one for what began as a four-day interval that was three weeks. By the tip of 1997, I owned one of many final examples manufactured from the first-generation automobile, and I’ve regularly had a Miata parked in my storage since then. At present, a 2004 Mazdaspeed lives there, with lower than 35,000 unique miles on the clock.
When the fourth-generation MX-5 Miata arrived for the 2016 mannequin 12 months, I used to be smitten with the brand new design and engineering bundle. It eradicated the tender styling and bloat of the third-gen automobile, reacquainting the 2016 Miata with the “much less is extra” philosophy that made the unique so in style with driving fanatics. Mazda additional perfected the fourth-gen Miata in 2019 with an infusion of energy, however my favourite sports activities automobile nonetheless had a barely wild facet. On the restrict of adhesion, whether or not trail-braking laborious right into a nook or getting again on the gasoline after clipping an apex, the most recent Miata might really feel a bit of squirrelly — particularly if the pavement was lower than excellent.
Enter the 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata, now with normal Kinematic Posture Management (KPC), a brake-based software program resolution that goals to tame the Miata’s rear finish whenever you’re hustling the automobile laborious. In accordance with Mazda, KPC applies a small quantity of braking to the automobile’s inside rear wheel at excessive g-force entry right into a nook or curve. The outcome, says the automaker, is much less physique roll and a extra linear steering response really feel on the steering wheel, particularly on imperfect highway surfaces. Speed up laborious previous the apex of the flip, and KPC provides extra inside rear-wheel braking to reinforce the Miata’s limited-slip impact.
Naturally, I couldn’t wait to pattern KPC, so on the first alternative, I booked a take a look at drive in a 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF. It arrived in Membership specification with Soul Crimson Crystal paint with the excellent Brembo/BBS/ Recaro choice bundle (normal from 2022 on), which equips the automobile with light-weight cast aluminum wheels, efficiency brakes and performance-bolstered seats. It wasn’t low-cost, sporting a window sticker of $40,160, together with the vacation spot cost.
Forty grand for a Miata? Yep, but when you understand what this automobile is (street-legal go-kart) and what it will possibly do (spank extra highly effective machines in all however a straight line), then that worth nonetheless looks like a cut price.
Simply as I did with that 1994 rental automobile practically 30 years in the past, I took the 2022 MX-5 Miata RF Membership for a day-long drive on all of my favourite Southern California roads stretching from Calabasas to Santa Barbara.
The upper rev restrict and added energy from the 2019 mannequin 12 months replace, mixed with the light-weight BBS wheels and stout Brembo brake choices, make any ND2 a sheer, unbridled pleasure to drive laborious and quick. Add the exact, fluid shift motion, the near-telepathic steering, and the automobile’s diminutive measurement that means that you can use as a lot of your lane on a slender mountain highway to take care of ahead momentum as is feasible, and the 2019, 2020 and 2021 examples of Mazda’s roadster promise fanatic drivers a fantastically good time.
However the 2022 and 2023 fashions of the MX-5 Miata are those to get. That new KPC software program works as marketed, including stability on the restrict and instilling extra confidence within the driver. I can’t communicate for KPC’s impression on the automobile’s on-track character, however out in the true world, on slinky mountain and canyon roads which can be generally indifferently maintained or improperly repaired (taking a look at you, Mulholland Freeway down close to the seaside), this method’s refined braking inputs ship apparent dealing with advantages.
Since buying my very own Mazdaspeed MX-5 new, I haven’t desperately needed a brand new Miata. However because of KPC, it’s tough to withstand regardless that Mazda discontinued my favourite shade — Polymetal Grey — for 2023. Positive, I’m a bit of biased, however in trying again on the 88 new automobiles, vans and SUVs I test-drove and reviewed in 2022, the most recent Mazda MX-5 Miata was my favourite.