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2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Track Test: Still Great After All These Years

Long live the Miata, as it proves once again that outright speed doesn’t always matter.

The 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club doesn't measure-up on paper against many of the other cars Pro Racer's Take has track-tested at NCM Motorsport Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky—at least not in terms of raw specs and lap times. And, as always when it comes to Mazda's light, throwback little sports car, none of that matters. (Speaking of Miatas, check out our recent track test of the MX-5 Cup race car here.)

Acceleration times and track-test lap times have always been secondary to the Mazda MX-5 Miata's life-purpose, ever since the first-generation "NA" car hit the market in 1989. Today, 31 years later, the fourth-gen ND-spec 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club we track tested weighs 2,341 pounds, only a few hundred pounds more than the original. In-step with that stat, today's car uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 181-horsepower, compared to the original's 1.6-liter, 116-hp I-4.

Still, while the modern Mazda Skyactiv-G direct-injection engine naturally features more advanced engineering technology and doesn't have to push along quite as many pounds-per-horsepower as did the original, the Miata remains true: True to the vision put forward decades ago by Bob Hall and brought to life by Mazda. And true to the philosophical spirit that had even earlier led to light, no-frills, two-seat sports cars from a variety of European manufacturers.

So, while the 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club actually put up the slowest NCM lap time we've recorded (so far) on Pro Racer's Take, well, it still doesn't matter in 2020. It doesn't matter to our test driver, Andy Pilgrim, and not to anyone who understands why, despite a world where 500-plus-hp cars are now the norm, driving enjoyment isn't as simple as swinging the biggest, baddest engine-and-hardware package.

Frankly, when it comes to the Miata—and as Hall discovered within Mazda all of those years ago—you either get it or you don't. And if you don't, keep an eye on Pilgrim's hands and the car's attitude (especially at the 9-minute, 12-second mark) as you watch this week's installment of Pro Racer's Take—and imagine just how much fun it is to throw the 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club toward corners, in search of the perfect turn-in rotation to maintain as much momentum as you can.

We'll put it this way: We've done a lot of Miata track tests and miles over the years, and we've seen a lot of people climb out of Miatas after doing the same—but we've never seen one of them emerge from the cockpit with a frown on their face. This 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club track test illustrates clearly why that remains the case today, so hit the play button and watch the latest episode of Pro Racer's Take.