Mazda is the automaker most responsible for the sports-car revolution of the 1990s, and the MX-5 Miata continues to provide driving entertainment at a moderate price. Base and LS editions of the rear-wheel-drive two-seat roadster remain available.
During the 2004 model year, Mazda introduced a high-performance Mazdaspeed MX-5 Miata with a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder that generated 178 horsepower rather than the regular Miata's 142 hp. Equipped with front and rear under-spoilers, the Mazdaspeed model rides on 17-inch tires and has a body that's 7 millimeters lower. A six-speed-manual transmission goes into the Mazdaspeed model; this gearbox is optional in the regular Miata. (The Mazdaspeed edition has its own cars.com model report for 2005.)
Sirius Satellite Radio is available from dealers for 2005. Considering how long this model has been on the market, a significant redesign is likely soon.
Loosely patterned after an older British Lotus Elan, the Miata body still exhibits an amalgamation of curves that are offset by few straight lines. The manual-folding fabric top has a glass rear window with a defogger. The back window can be raised or lowered from the driver's seat without undue twisting, and a wind-blocker panel is included. A detachable hardtop and a rear spoiler are optional.
The fully independent suspension includes double wishbones, coil springs and stabilizer bars. Special suspension packages with Bilstein shock absorbers are available.
Cloth bucket seats are installed in the base model. Because the car is only 4 feet tall to the top of its roof, occupants have to drop down into the seats. The driver faces a simple dashboard, and the controls and gauges are within easy reach.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning, a theft-deterrent system, power windows and mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, intermittent wipers, a CD player and a power antenna. The LS version adds leather seating surfaces, cruise control, remote entry, power locks, a limited-slip differential and a 225-watt Bose CD stereo.
Under the Hood
Base and LS models carry a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with variable valve timing. The engine develops 142 hp at 7,000 rpm and teams with either a five-speed-manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. The LS can be equipped with either of those transmissions or a six-speed manual.
Side-impact airbags are not available, but antilock brakes are optional on the LS model.
The Miata is just as enjoyable to drive today as it was when it debuted. The ride can be a bit stiff, which causes the roadster to bounce when traversing rougher pavement, but nothing seems to detract from the enriching sports-car experience. Engine noise is noticeable, and performance admittedly lags behind some rivals.
Though the snappy-shifting manual gearbox and positive clutch behavior add to the driving pleasure, even a good thing can become tedious in heavy traffic. This roadster is snug inside, and getting into the seat might be a bit of an ordeal if the top is up.