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Quick Spin: 2013 Mazda MX-5 Club Edition
The password into driving Heaven is “Club Edition”

Jeff Glucker March 11, 2013 Featured, Mazda Reviews, Quick Spin, Reviews 26 Comments

2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Edition lead

Engine in the front, manual transmission shift lever in my hand, and the drive wheels out back are a recipe to make me a happy man. Still, even when these automotive stars align it doesn’t necessarily signal a success story. Maybe the car won’t have enough power, or perhaps part of the car will feel a bit numb. There’s a chance I won’t fit comfortably in the cabin space, or that the vehicle will feature some fuel saving measures to quell the fun.

After a few hours on a twisty ribbon of asphalt outside of Austin, Texas, I can report to you that the 2013 Mazda MX-5 Club Edition suffers from none of these issues. In fact, it might just be one of my favorites cars I’ve driven in some time.

2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Edition wide

While attending the launch of the Mazda6 in Texas, I asked the good folks at Mazda if I could borrow the Club Edition Miata that was serving as the camera car for the event. Travis Okulski from Jalopnik mentioned that he did the same thing on the wave prior to my own, and this tidbit proved might beneficial. The car was gassed up and waiting for me when I got back to the hotel. This particular hotel sits along a nice road that transforms into a great road just a few miles away. The sun was shining, the top was easily stowed, and I quickly slid behind the wheel and fired up the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

This two-door drop top has just 167 horsepower on tap, but it makes great use of it thanks to the 2,447-pound curb weight. Additionally, the engine is paired with one of, if not the, best six-speed manual gearbox on the planet. Each new slide of the shifter results in a clean and crisp entry into the next gear. Pedal placement is ideal for even novice heel-toe enthusiasts, such as myself, which means I can feel like Ayrton even when I’m more like Bruno.

2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Edition cabin

The 2013 Club Edition isn’t simply a story about a lightweight car with a decent engine though, and no Miata ever has been. Descriptions like proper handling, clear steering feel, direct connection, and precision often get jumbled up and thrown into an MX-5 story. Those words fall from the writer’s hands onto the keyboard because they’re all correct.

When I grab the steering wheel, I’m connecting myself to a machine that is eager to work with me and the road. It’s an intermediary, and it’s astoundingly fluent in both of our languages. I can feel where the tires are and to what they’re reacting, and I can place them where I want them. This makes me more confident, and it makes me drive faster.

Up into third gear after a tight corner, the engine wails as if it were an old carbureted English classic and the smile on my face is larger than the one on the front of the car itself. Yes, it looks like a young lunatic that’s eager to cause reactions to your pleasure centers, but after a few miles in the MX-5 I wind up looking just the same.

2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Edition front wide

Since this car has the Club Edition badge on the site, it features a few extra bits to let one know that it’s a few ticks more special than a standard MX-5. Slotted into the 2013 model lineup between the base Sport and kitted-out Grand Touring, the Club Edition receives some exterior and interior flourishes but the real magic happens underneath the body work. The Suspension Package comes standard, and includes a shock-tower brace, sport-tuned suspension, Bilstein shocks, and a limited-slip differential. Bridgestone Potenza rubber sits at all four corners.

My one minor nitpick with the car? The audio system is fairly mediocre. There’s an easy remedy though… I turn it off, and I focus on driving.

Yes, you can recreate a similar feel for less money on the used market. The 2013 Mazda MX-5 Club Edition starts at around $27,000.  Regardless, this Miata represents some of the best driving excitement bang for your new-car buck. I know there are many Miata faithful in the automotive enthusiast world, and I’ve never been part of that club.

Then I went for a drive on a twisty road outside of Austin…

  • i have only used the stereo in my mx5 once, driving from los angeles to willows in northern california.

  • Scandinavian Flick

    During a time where so many things in modern cars seem to be turning to more automatic and disconnected, it's nice to see there remains a few that still offer a fun and connected driving experience.

    At 2,447lb is this a PRHT or soft top?

    • Soft top, I believe the PRHT is closer to 2600 pounds

  • MVEilenstein

    "I can feel like Ayrton even when I’m more like Bruno"

    Ouch. Very sad, but true.

  • Great review. It was an enjoyable read, most Miata reviews are tedious collections of cliches. This was more about how you felt driving the car, which is what a sports car is all about, right?

    I'm stoked about the MX5 Club, because at the end of this month, I'll be driving one at the San Diego SCCA Solo National Tour. This will be my first national level autocross in a dozen years. While I'm certain to finish DFL, I'm excited be be getting back into autocross, and lucky to have a friend willing to let me drive his car.

  • Seems like Mazda needs to step up its game in the stereo department. The Bose system in my Mazdaspeed 3 is pretty pathetic, and the ratio in the CX7 I rented a few months back was underwhelming too.

    But, as others have said, in a car like this, a stereo is hardly necessary.

    • The system in the new Mazda6 was better

    • Number_Six

      The Bose system in my RX-8 GT is worse than the stock system in a rental Nissan Versa.

      • Yeah, there might as well be no subwoofer in my car, since you can't hear any bass from it until it's cranked up loud. The stereo is the biggest disappointment I've had with the MS3 as a replacement for my totaled SVT Focus.

        • CABEZAGRANDE

          Well, the stereo in the SVT Focus was somewhat exceptional. I had an 01 SVTF for a brief time, and the stereo in it was significantly better than the stock (optional high-end) stereo in my 2000 XJR. It just had an extremely good stereo regardless of class, so it doesn't make the best point of comparison IMO.

      • pj134

        Yes, but it can be rather easily fixed with a head unit.

        Probably better to say somewhat easily…

        • Not with the Bose system. The speakers are all individually amplified meaning head unit or speaker replacements aren't easy.

  • So you were the slow asshole in the hot MX5 I blew past on the Monster…

    Just kidding. The Monster has been down for maintenance for a while now.

    A fine review Jeff. If there is any place in Texas to drive one of the best handeling roadsters on the market, it is in the hill country.

  • CABEZAGRANDE

    They had one of these (a white Club Edition) available for ride-and-drive at the local auto show this past weekend. My feelings mirror yours (to the extent i was allowed to flog it around congested city streets, which wasn't nearly as much as I'd have liked). Simply wonderful balance, and an incredible sense of connection to the car. Like you said, you know exactly what every bit of that car is doing at any moment in time. I just wish they weren't so bloody expensive. It's a wonderful car, but very bare bones for $27k.

    • Maymar

      I wish they were that cheap north of the 49th (and the bits of Canuckia south of that). For some inexplicable reason, the Miata starts at $29k up here – I'm hoping the FR-S/BRZ do well enough that Mazda has to counter with more reasonable pricing. Of course, if I get one, it's much more likely to be about 20 years old, but cheaper new ones can only drive down the value of used ones.

      But yes, wonderful little cars to drive.

  • Xedicon

    I really wish Mazda would get over the "grin face". Totally ruins their vehicles for me, this one included.

    • If they follow the Mazda 6 language, I will be very happy

      • Xedicon

        That is an excellent point – the Mazda 6 is way sexy, especially in wagon form!

  • Tack ons butch it up;
    shouldn't matter but it does
    Fun: Now without shame!

  • BobWellington

    I would love to drive one of these. I've never even driven a manual. My life sucks. 😛

    But really, I wanted to rent a car with a manual, but no one in the U.S. rents manual cars. And I know no one with a manual that I can drive. Such a shame. Oh, well, I guess I'll just have to save up for a Focus ST. Heh.

    • Maymar

      $500 stick shift beater!

      Alright, so mine was $700, and my only car at the time. Still, you don't have to worry about being gentle with the clutch, and you'll barely be in more than a week's rental even if you only get scrap value for it.

      • BobWellington

        That is definitely about the only option for me. Heck, I could probably even find a good deal and possibly turn a profit (or at least not lose money) on selling it.

        It's weird because my whole outlook on cars has changed since I got my Explorer. Back then I didn't want a manual, now whatever I buy has to have one.

        • Maymar

          It was slightly serendipitous for me – I was getting sick of riding the bus, and our local transit union was within days of going on strike and stranding huge portions of the city (I think they ended up striking for a matter of hours before they were declared an essential service). So I was dead-set on getting a car anyhow, and it made sense to buy manual, to get the chance to get much more comfortable with it. I also lucked out that I worked for a dealer at the time, so that 5-speed Cavalier sitting in the back corner of the lot was mine after about 15 seconds of negotiating.

          I wouldn't go as far as saying my next car has to have a manual, but it's much more likely – cheap, reliable, economical, and fun is virtually impossible to find with a torque converter. Once reliable and economical aren't salient concerns, slushboxes have their place on the right car.

          • BobWellington

            Indeed. I'm just so frustrated by my Explorer's horribly slow and clunky 6-speed auto.

    • Tiller188

      Oddly enough, when I was in a similar situation a few years back I did manage to find a place (here in California) that would rent a manual. Both the place and the car were extremely sketchy, though — for reference, the car was a 2nd-gen Neon, so it couldn't have been older than 2000 or so, and if my memory serves it was a post-facelift model, which would make it a 2003 or younger. Yet by this time (2009, I think?), every body panel, roof included, was dented. Also, no two tires were the same make/model. Unanticipated side bonus — the 3rd gear synchro sounded/felt like it was going, so I could practice doubleclutching on the 4-3 shift and know if I got it well-matched!

      Options theoretically do exist out there if you search around for small Rent-a-Wreck-type places, although honestly a cheap stick beater might be the better way to go if you don't mind dealing with having an extra car around/having to sell the car once you're comfortable with a stick. Having a cheap beater that I could turn back in at the end of a week's time was kinda nice, though.

      • BobWellington

        Yeah, I'd definitely prefer to rent something. I'll keep looking around.





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