2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Club Initial Review: Still stocky and fun

We’ll take any excuse to get behind the wheel of the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Very few cars provide an instant boost of joy like the Miata. So when Mazda claimed it had somehow improved the sports car’s cornering abilities for the 2022 model year, that was more than good reason to invite you in for another round of testing. Other changes for 2022 include a new interior and exterior color and standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the mid-range Club trim. Additionally, the six-speed automatic transmission option is now exclusive to the top-of-the-line MX-5 Grand Touring, meaning the Sport and Club will only be offered with six-speed manual transmissions.

Why it matters

The fourth-generation ‘ND’ Miata hasn’t strayed from the formula that made the two-door roadster an instant hit when it debuted more than three decades ago. Relatively affordable with a starting price of under $30,000, the lightweight, no-frills Miata continues to stand out for its unmatched driving pleasure (and for essentially existing in a Class of One for now). The 2022 Mazda Miata attempts to maintain its driving pleasure while improving its cornering abilities thanks to its new Kinematic Posture Control (KPC) system, which aims to reduce body roll by applying the brake to the inside rear wheel. KPC is standard on all trim levels, including our test vehicle, an MX-5 Club RF with other performance-enhancing upgrades like Bilstein dampers, a limited-slip differential, and Brembo brakes.

Pros: What we like

The 2.0-litre inline-four is carried over unchanged, and that’s fine. Power is more than adequate, enough to propel our test car to 60mph in 5.9 seconds and through the quarter mile in 14.5 seconds, times on par with the last few ND Miatas we’ve tested . The manual transmission makes rowing a pleasure with short, precise throws, and the placement of the brake and accelerator pedals are ideal for heel-and-toe shifts.

“It’s been a while since I’ve driven a Miata and I’d forgotten what a good instructor he is,” said Road Test editor Chris Walton. “Everything you do has a direct impact on what the car does. Accelerate, brake, steer – every reaction is always on the display.”

So how about this KPC? In an ideal world, we would have had a non-CCP example handy and raced the two back-to-back. That means we couldn’t say whether KPC is actually doing its thing. There’s still a fair amount of body roll and rear squat, even when driving at about 80 percent of the car’s cornering limits. And that’s fine in our book – the movements only add to the Miata’s playful nature, one that very few sports cars can match. The soft sprung suspension also ensures the Miata’s ride quality is comfortable enough to serve as a daily driver.

Cons: What we don’t like

Everything was business-as-usual on the eight-course, where body roll can hamper performance if you’re not smooth with your steering, braking and throttle inputs. Again, KPC didn’t seem to affect or intrude on our driving experience, but we wonder if it had anything to do with this car’s 26.8-second backtime. That’s slower than a 2021 MX-5 RF Grand Touring (by 0.7 seconds) and a 2019 MX-5 Club Roadster (by 1.6 seconds) that we previously tested. If it were to blame – which is likely, considering it’s about engaging a brake – it would be nice to be able to disable KPC in situations where tenths of a second matter, like on an autocross course.

The final result

We certainly appreciate Mazda’s efforts to improve the already great Miata, but we wonder if the new KPC system is more change for the sake of change than a real benefit.

2022 Mazda MX-5 (RF Club) Specs
BASE PRICE $39,215
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door convertible
ENGINE 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve direct-injected I-4
PERFORMANCE (SAE NETWORK) 181 hp at 7,000 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NETWORK) 151 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual transmission
TARGET WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 2,423 pounds (51/49%)
WHEELBASE 90.9 inches
length x width x height 154.1 x 68.3 x 49.0 inches
0-60MPH 5.9 sec
QUARTER MILE 14.5 sec at 95.0mph
BRAKES, 60-0 MPH 112 feet
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.8 sec at 0.64 g (average)
EPA RANGE, COMB 344 miles

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