In April this year, worldwide sales of the Mazda MX-5 Miata surpassed one million since the two-seat roadster debuted in 1989. The 2017 MX-5 Miata continues the tradition of the little sports car that can.
The MX-5 Miata was re-designed for 2016, but exterior and interior tweaks for 2017 keep the roadster’s current competitors (including offerings from Nissan, Mini, and BMW) searching for ways to infiltrate the little wonder’s dominance.
The Weekly Driver Test Drive
The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata advances via a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine with 155 horsepower. After losing about 200 pounds from the 2015 model to last year, the Miata’s acceleration improved. It now achieves the standard 0-60 mph test in 6.2 seconds.
Offered in Sport, Club and Grand Touring trims, with my test vehicle was the latter. In addition to a six-speed manual transmission with a short-throw shifter, the Grand Touring edition includes most of the other trims’ equipment including a few simple, well-done considerations: a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and parking brake.
Safety features are strong, including a blind spot monitoring in cross traffic alert, a lane departure warning system, and heated side mirrors. The Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring model’s interior package includes a red engine oil cap with the MX-5 logo, stainless for sill trim plates as well as alloy pedals and foot rest
Standard features include: manually retractable black soft top with a glass rear window, LED headlights and taillights, air-conditioning, push-button ignition, power accessories, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB port, and an auxiliary audio jack.
Like every MX-5 or Miata (as it once was called) the 2017 model is at its best on winding roads and with the top down. It zips around corners, and it does so while far from quiet. But isn’t that the beauty of a sports car?
As a 6-foot, 200-pound driver, I often felt cramped getting in and out of the car. After 90 minutes into one test drive, I had knee pains. There’s little room in the MX-5 to stretch out or even to slightly extend one’s limbs.
Convertibles are universal in one respect. They’re more fun to drive with the top down than with the top up. My test Miata was no exception. The Miata drives low to the ground like any roadster and its feel on the road is the antithesis of elegant driving. The top releases with a latch between the front seats’ headrests and two top latches that connect to the top to the frame. The top snaps into its retracted place with a firm push.
The MX-5 also has a strong driver’s side blind spot, and it’s not particularly quick from a standstill. The acceleration substantially improves approaching freeway speeds or in passing situations.
The MX-5 also has adept cornering and steering, further adding to the car’s fun-to-drive personality.
Table of Contents
Short-throw shifter adds to the fun.
Intuitive navigation system.
Efficient retractable soft top.
Hard to enter and exit.
Flimsy, awkwardly located cupholders.
Tiny trunk. It may hold one small, soft-sided carry-on bag.
Facts & Figures: 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 6.2 seconds.
Fuel economy: 27 mpg (city), 34 mpg (highway), six-speed manual transmission.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: Unavailable.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.mazdausa.com.
Price As Tested: Unavailable.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.
What Others Say:
“For sheer road driving pleasure, you’ll find nothing that beats it for the money. It’s the sort of car you can rag around a roundabout, and it’ll reward you with a little skid, but just a little one. The driving position is better than some supercars, with a perfectly situated and very satisfying manual gear shift. We’ve never been so happy to change gears. — GG.com.”
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:
“It’s an ultimate fun weekend driver on a warm afternoon with the top down and zipping along on a winding country road. But as a daily driver, the 2017 Mazda MX-5 has its limitations. It’s uncomfortable, has limited trunk space and advances with a rough ride. But isn’t that part of the small sports car allure? It’s difficult to drive the MX-5 without smiling.”
Article Last Updated: October 18, 2016.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.