Mazda MX-5, 2010: The Weekly Driver Car Review

James Raia

Mazda MX-5, 2010: The Weekly Driver Car Review 1Now close to becoming a teenager, the Mazda MX-5 (still called the Miata by purists) is in its third edition as the best-selling sports car in history.

Since its debut in 1989, more than 850,000 Miatas have sold, and a lot more will likely sell considering the upgrades — some substantial, some subtle — for the 2010 model.

The new edition is available with a manual-folding soft top with a heated-glass rear window or a power-folding hardtop, and there are 10 trims. It all ups up to a sure-thing to continue the sports car’s legacy.

Mazda MX-5, 2010: The Weekly Driver Car Review 2

The Weekly Driver’s Ratings

First Impression: My weekly driver, the grand touring soft top model, arrived a few days before Halloween. Its exterior color, Competition Yellow, was ideal for the week. The tone is more orange than yellow and it’s striking, for good or bad. Lots of onlookers commented on my pumpkin on wheels.

Acceleration (6)
With its low-to-the-ground profile and classic two-seat sports car feel, the MX-5 seems fast. Better described, it’s brisk. The six-speed manual transmission has short throws and gearing is firm, which adds to the fun.

Mazda MX-5, 2010: The Weekly Driver Car Review 3

Braking/Steering/Handling (9)
With 17-inch tires, a small, tight turning radius, little lean and “stop-on-a-dime” quality brakes, what’s not to like? It’s a sports car that commands the road and can’t get enough of it.

Cargo Room (4)
It’s a coupe, so how much cargo space should be expected? There’s a small trunk, for sure, and a lockable glovebox. And there are storage boxes “hidden” behind the back of each seat. Not bad for a two-seater. One downside: The position of the cup holders can interfere with shifting.

Controls/Gauges (6)
The controls are well-placed. Gauges are clearly marked and easy to read.

Details (6)
It’s plastic throughout the cockpit, but it looks sharp. The Grand Touring edition (my weekly driver) had leather trim and it added class. The aforementioned hidden storage bins added a savvy touch.

Front Seats (6)
I’m 6-feet, 185 pounds and I fit OK in the Mazda MX-5. But anyone taller would likely want for more leg room and definitely more head room when the soft top is up. The Mazda MX-5 isn’t spacious, but how many coupes are?

Fuel Economy (6)
A few major web sites got less than the EPA city and freeway mpg estimates of 21 mpg and 28 mpg. But my averages were within a few tenths of the numbers. Premium fuel is recommended.

Quietness (5)
Is there a quiet sports car? It’s not supposed to be part of the equation, is it? The Mazda is on par with other sports cars. In short, it’s noisy. But sports car owners aren’t looking for a luxury sedan. With the top down, though, the Mazda MX-5 may be quieter than with its top up, and that’s an oddity shared by other sports cars.

Rear Seats (0)
There aren’t any.

Ride Quality (6)
The suspension package helps as do the 17-inch tires, but sports cars feel bumps and whatever else the road has to offer. That’s part of the fun of sports cars.

Total (54 out of 100 )

Class — Sports car

Primary competition — Honda S2000, Nissan 370Z.

For standard equipment/option package information, visit: www.mazdausa.com.

Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price — $26,410.

Price As Driven — $29,310.

Mileage Estimates — 21 mpg (city), 28 mpg (hwy).

Warranty — Bumper-to-bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Roadside assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.

What Others Are Saying:

“The 2010 Miata is a dream, especially for sports car enthusiasts on a budget. It’s quick, agile, great on gas and reliable too.”

—- U.S. News & World Report

“For what the car is, and what it has always been, the MX-5 Miata is essentially without peer. And whether you like the retractable hardtop or not — and I do — the soft top is still available for purists, and the hardtop just adds one more feature that makes the car a little more practical as a daily driver.”

—- Orlando Sentinel

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“When the top’s down, the sun is shining and there’s a winding country road nearby, the Mazda MX-5 is a lot of fun. Adjust your hat and sunglasses and rip through the gears. Life is good. When the top’s up, it’s like a lot of other convertibles. It’s just not the same car, you know? But it’s still a good value in a crowded market.”

Article Last Updated: January 6, 2010.

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