Review: 2007 Mazda MX-5 Miata
This 2007 review is representative of model years 2006 to 2013.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
One might have thought that Mazda's MX-5 Miata would be one of the very last convertibles to get a retractable hardtop because it's traditionally been a no-frills throwback to elemental British sports cars of the 1960s, some of which even lacked roll-up windows.
But it's a tough market out there, and the two-seat MX-5 Miata must compete with other under-$30,000 retractable hardtop convertibles such as the Volkswagen Eos and Pontiac G6—not to mention the Chrysler Sebring Touring convertible with a retractable top, which just barely crosses the $30,000 list price line.
Mazda is staying ahead of the game by giving the Miata (Mazda now mainly refers to it as just the "MX-5") an affordable retractable top that doesn't spoil the car's sporty styling when raised. (An optional lift-off hardtop is still offered.).
No Space Eater
To lower the top, a driver just releases a single latch and pushes a button. The cleverly engineered retractable top then splits in two and tumbles into an area behind the bucket seats in 12 seconds.
Variety of Trim Levels
The power retractable top is offered for all, except the entry SV. The SV has an easily worked manual folding soft-top with a heated glass rear window, which also is offered for all other Miata trim levels.
The soft-top actually is simple to lower or raise and is more in keeping with the Miata's basic personality. But then, it lacks the retractable top's advantages.
The SV and Sport have a 5-speed manual transmission, while others have a 6-speed manual unit. The manual has a delightful short-throw shifter, but it works with a rather stiff clutch. A 6-speed automatic with manual shift capability is optional for all except the SV.
Lower Horsepower Ratings
Fuel economy is pretty good: an estimated 25 mpg in the city and 30 on highways with the 5-speed manual and 24 and 30 with the 6-speed manual. The figures are 22 and 30 with the automatic. Premium fuel is recommended for the best acceleration.
A Kick to Drive
The ride is supple for a car with only a 91.7-inch wheelbase, although the optional sports suspension, which enhances handling, lets the ride become a bit jumpy on some roads and doesn't handle bumps as well as the standard suspension.
However a downshift from sixth gear to fifth or fourth gear is needed for fast 65-75 mph passing. Also, engine revs are high above 65 mph for the manual transmission model despite its overdrive sixth gear—which makes one wonder how much better highway fuel economy ratings would be with more economical "taller" gearing.
The first Miata also drew former owners of sports cars of both sexes who had given up on seeing an affordable, fun-to-drive two-seater again.
One "drops in" and "climbs out" of the low-slung car, which has large outside door handles. Shorter drivers may have a hard time seeing over the high dashboard, but gauges can be quickly read and nicely placed controls are easy to use.
Two tall adults easily fit, although they have little room to spare. The bucket seats are supportive in curves, but some may feel they're rather flat and need more padding.
The retractable hardtop allows a quieter interior, although tire and wind noise are a bit noticeable above 65 mph with it raised. Normal conversation is easy with the top down at normal highway speeds. The exhaust system emits a genuine sports car sound, but it may be bothersome to some on long drives.
Many would probably be happy with the standard Miata SV, which has standard items including a tilt wheel, power mirrors and windows, AM/FM/CD player, intermittent wipers and fairly wide 50-series tires on 16-inch alloy wheels.
A $1,250 Premium Package containing traction/anti-skid control and remote engine start is optional for the Grand Touring. And the $500 sport suspension with a limited-slip differential to more effectively shoot power to the road is offered for the Touring and Grand Touring trim levels with a manual transmission.
The retractable hardtop probably seems superfluous to some Miata fans, but it's a feature that doubtlessly will help sell more MX-5 Miatas.