By Cars.com EditorsJune 22, 2009
About the video
Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder takes a look at the 2009 Mazda Miata MX-5. It competes with the Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky, and the higher-priced Honda S2000.
(rock music) <v Announcer>Cars.com auto review. I'm Joe Wiesenfelder of cars.com. This is one of our favorite cars. It's the Mazda MX-5 Miata, this one's a 2009. Now, when this car came out 20 years ago, it was called the Miata.
Then they made it the MX-5 Miata. Then they just started calling it the MX-5 a couple of years ago. No one was going for that. Now it's the MX-5 Miata again. Now this particular one is the top of the top of the line. It's a Grand Touring trim level, which is the highest. It also happens to be a retractable hard top, which adds $1,500 to the Grand Touring. As opposed to a cloth top, it looks a little bit more finished. It's also quieter inside, and it's more secure really, because someone can't knife their way into a hard top like they could into a soft. As equipped, this one's $31,000. Pretty high, but the car starts at under 22. Now if you've never driven a Miata, you don't know what you're missing. You're a little foolish. The goal from the beginning with this car is mainly handling. It's light, excellent balance, front to rear, roughly 50/50. That allows the tires to share the job of keeping the car on the road. This car has summer tires, which makes it even more grippy. For what it's worth, they changed the shock valving in the 2009 to give you more road feel, they say. I gotta say, it's pretty comfortable day to day. Now the engine is better than it's ever been. It's just shy of 170 horsepower in this one with the manual transmission. A lot of good low end torque, so you can take off from a line quickly enough. You can power out of corners, et cetera. And it sounds great. What they did was change the intake manifold in such a way that it makes it sound deeper. (car revving) Now the transmission helps a lot, great gear ratios to work with the engine. Good feel of the transmission that feels connected. A little bit of vibration so you know you're actually connected, you're actually driving. Now if you've never been in a car like this, you'd probably think it's really cramped. It's actually not bad. There are only two seats, so they can make it roomy enough. Now the interior's really nice. That's true of even the basic ones, even though this one's a loaded one. A couple of things that stood out to me since the previous generation, they changed the steering wheel, and I'm not wild about the fact that you don't get a lot of horn. You gotta hit that little (beeps) thing in the middle. It's not quite as good as the previous generation, which I own, where you just kinda hit it anywhere. One big improvement is Mazda thought it was a good idea to have a credit card shaped key fob thing. Neat idea, terrible execution, no one liked it. Now they have a regular one. Now even though this one's a little more expensive, a car that starts under $22,000, a convertible that's this much fun, I gotta say, some manufacturers who make more expensive sports cars should be embarrassed. <v Announcer>For more car-related news, go to cars.com or our blog, kickingtires.net.