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June 19, 2007 > Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5

The MX-5 name has been used by Mazda for its 2-seat convertible sports car in all countries except the USA since the car's 1989 introduction. Here, it has been called the Miata up until the 2006 model year when the MX-5 name was first used. This is the third generation of the world's best-selling 2-seat roadster ever made.

My wife and I have had 2 Miatas for years, and have over 200,000 virtually trouble free miles, so we know a lot about them. The 2007 MX-5 is probably the best one yet, except for one not-so-minor complaint. I will address it first.

The problem is cup holders. Cup holders you ask? Yes, cup holders. Someone on Mazda's marketing staff decided that a 2-person car needs 4 cup holders. Then he/she directed Mazda's interior design staff to put a cup holder into each inner door panel. This means that if you are over 6 feet tall, your knee rubs on the hard plastic surface of a cup holder whether you are the driver or a passenger. After about 10 minutes in either seat of the MX-5, you want to put on knee pads to reduce the pain levels.

Now, let's focus on the positives-this is one great sports car. It has a 2-liter engine with 166 HP (about 50 more that our older model Miatas), so there is plenty of snap. The EPA estimates are 24/30. You can get a 6-speed paddle shifted automatic transmission, a 5-speed manual, or a 6-speed manual transmission. Our test car has the 6-speed manual, and the gears were perfectly spaced for aggressive driving. As with every Miata I've driven, the manual transmission is a little balky for the first few miles, but after it warms up a bit, it shifts like the precision component it is.

The brakes are great. The 4-wheel disk, ABS system hauls the MX-5 down quickly, smoothly, and in a straight line.

Handling has always been Miata's strongest attribute, and the MX-5 delivers in spades. During a hard aggressive drive on a twisty, bumpy, mountain road, the car did nothing to scare the driver. (My passenger, wife, was convinced we would vault off the road 3 or 4 times.) The MX-5 is stable, predictable, and sticks to the road like a true sports car should. With continuing improvement to the brakes and handling, the addition of a few more ponies really ups the MX-5's fun quotient.

Now for the "piece-de-la-resistance!" Our tester had the new Power Retractable Hard Top (PRHT). This addition really changes the MX-5's character. One minute you are driving a quiet, enclosed coupe, and, with the touch of a button, 12 seconds later you have a real, wind in the hair, sun on your head, roadster. It only adds 77 pounds to the car, and it is the fastest PRHT sold in the USA. I'm sure they will sell a ton of these in those other parts of the country where cold, snow, and ice are a reality.

Mazda gives the MX-5 purchaser plenty of choices. All models get the same engine, brakes, and suspension components. The SV (Special Value) model starts at $20,585 with the 5-speed manual, 16-inch wheels, and without air conditioning. There are 3 more basic models with different combinations of transmissions, trim levels, vinyl or cloth tops, and option packages. The highest is $25,750. Then you can add the PRHT for about $1,800 more.

Would I buy a 2007 MX-5? In a heartbeat. The SV model is a very cost effective choice, and the PRHT is really nice. But then I'd get a hacksaw and cut those damn cup holders off the door panels.

By Dick Ryan Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists
RRYAN@FRK.COM

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