Sunday, November 25, 2007

2007 Mazda Miata Reviews-The best of the affordable two-seat sports cars.

The 1990 Mazda Miata was nothing less than the rebirth of the affordable two-seat sports car. Mazda fused the personality of the British sports cars of the 1950s and 1960s with near-faultless Japanese quality and reliability. From the first one out the door, the Miata delivered what the long-gone but still lamented English sports cars of an earlier generation had never quite managed: a delightful, fun, supremely capable, well-engineered car that started every time and ran forever. There are more Miatas on racetracks every weekend around the country than any other car.
It's been thoroughly updated twice, including a full remake in 2006. Quality, solidity and safety gear were upgraded in the 2006 re-do, but its lighthearted spirit was kept intact. This is a car to love.

Mazda is now downplaying the Miata name in favor of the alpha-numeric MX-5 moniker; apparently, this is intended to make emphasize the Mazda brand name.

For 2007, there are a few small changes and one major addition to the lineup that broadens both the MX-5's appeal and usefulness. The eye-opener is a new model featuring what Mazda calls the Power Retractable Hard Top, or PRHT, which features a solid roof that lowers in seconds at the touch of a button, just like those found on pricey two-seaters from Mercedes and Cadillac. It provides the advantages of a hardtop overhead, with reduced wind and road noise and a sense of increased security and solidity, yet folds down completely out of sight for stylish cruising. What's more, not a whit of the standard MX-5's delicious driving experience has been sacrificed by the addition of hardtop practicality.

Affordability has always been a cornerstone of Miata ownership, but over time more models and options have proliferated. The list now stretches to two basic body styles, across which spreads five exterior and interior trim packages, a more sporting suspension and a dozen stand alone options. All this can plump up the sticker to the $28,000 range. But choose wisely and you'll still get a rewarding sports car at an enticing price.

The MX-5 Miata, soft top or hard top, still puts a big grin on your face whether you're on a twisty road or just cruising down to the hardware store to pick up some molly bolts. Fun is what the Mazda MX-5 made its reputation on, and that's exactly what it delivers. Mission accomplished.


The 2007 Mazda MX-5 is offered in two body styles: a two-seat two-door convertible and the new Power Retractable Hard Top (PRHT). All are powered by the same eager 2.0-liter, all-aluminum, four-cylinder, sixteen-valve engine. Three transmissions are offered, depending upon model: a five-speed manual, a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic with Activematic, Mazda's take on a shift-it-yourself automatic gearbox. The engine is rated at 166 horsepower, which is plenty for a car weighing only about 2500 pounds. Automatic-equipped cars develop 163 horsepower, the difference due to revised engine tuning required to work with the automatic.
The SV Special Value model ($20,435), is only available by special order through one of Mazda's regional offices. It's what once might have been called a stripper version, and it provides the basis for building a race car. It comes with a five-speed manual gearbox instead of the six-speed; 16-inch aluminum wheels; cloth upholstery; various interior storage pockets and bins; an AM/FM/CD sound system with four speakers; power mirrors; and dual front and side airbags. So it's a stripper in relative terms only.

The MX-5 Sport ($21,435) with the vinyl soft top comes with the five-speed manual gearbox, and the same basic equipment as the SV plus air conditioning and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. A tire puncture repair kit fills in for a spare tire, as it does on all MX-5s. The PRHT hardtop Sport ($24,350) also comes with a manual gearbox. The Sport model is also available with the Activematic six-speed automatic ($23,590) and the soft top; it comes standard with the 1CP Convenience Package consisting of cruise control, fog lamps, keyless entry system and power door locks.

The Touring ($23,240) soft top comes with a six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed automatic ($24,340) and adds fog lamps, cruise control, power door locks, keyless entry, cruise control, steering wheel mounted cruise and audio controls, with 17-inch alloy wheels and P205/45R17 performance tires. Run-flat tires ($515) are optional. The Touring hard top comes with the six-speed manual gearbox ($25,100) or automatic ($26,200).

The Grand Touring comes with a six-speed manual gearbox ($24,500) or automatic ($25,600), heated leather seats, faux leather door trim, a spiffy cloth soft top and Bose AM/FM/CD player system with seven speakers. Order the rich-looking tan leather and you get tan door panels to match. Handsome 17-inch aluminum wheels mounting 205/45-17 tires fill the wheel openings, and run-flat technology ($515) is available. The Grand Touring hardtop comes with the six-speed manual ($26,360) or automatic ($27,460).

Options include the Convenience Package ($1055) with cruise control, fog lamps, keyless entry and power door locks. The Premium Package 1 ($1600) packs the car with a theft alarm; dynamic stability control and a limited-slip rear differential; Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry (a credit-card sized key fob that you keep in your pocket; there's no actual key for the ignition) and xenon high-intensity headlights. Premium Package 2 ($1250) is the same as Package 1 minus the limited slip differential. The Suspension Package ($500) uprates the handling with Bilstein gas pressure shocks and the limited-slip differential. The appearance package ($1145) dresses the exterior in sporty duds including a front air dam, side skirts and rear under skirt. And the Interior Trim Package ($515) brightens up an already handsome cabin with brushed aluminum trim pieces on the dash and door switch panels and a handsome leather-and-aluminum gearshift knob. Also available: a cargo net, door edge guards, all-weather mats, chrome fuel filler door, splash guards a rear spoiler, satellite radio, an in-dash 6CD/MP3 changer, and wheel locks.

All MX-5s benefit from a comprehensive 3 year/36,000 mile warranty, a five year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and a five-year/unlimited mileage corrosion warranty. And Mazda supplies 24/7 roadside assistance.

Safety equipment standard across the line comprises dual, two-stage frontal airbags; seat-mounted, side airbags designed to protect the chest and head; and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution. The passenger-side frontal airbag has an on/off switch, and that seat is fitted with child safety seat anchors, or LATCH.


Mazda has done a masterful job designing the Mazda MX-5. This third generation evokes the themes of both the original 1990 car and the second-generation Miata (1999-2005). The current Mazda MX-5 is slightly larger in every measure from previous versions, from what's beneath the hood to the interior to the shadow it casts on the road.
Great designs evolve over time, but always hark back to a central theme that defines the brand. So it is with the third-generation MX-5. In fact, it looks more like the original Miata than the second-generation model. The overall design is somewhat slab sided and both taller and more rounded at the front end than previous versions. But the ovoid shape of the grille is pure Miata. (The grille on the hardtop models is brightened with a delicate chrome ring around its circumference.) This larger-than-before opening moves more cooling air through the radiator and around the larger engine and combines with a pronounced air dam across the bottom of the lower opening to give the Miata's face a strong chin. So what if it brings to mind a largemouth bass when viewed straight on? It does what it's supposed to do. Compound, projector-beam headlights live in small housings deeply recessed and near to the car's centerline, which emphasizes the Miata's diminutive size. The hood wears a mini-bulge in the center, simultaneously suggestive of a scoop and of a similar bulge on the RX-8.

The MX-5 design has definitely evolved since the beginning, especially when seen from the side. Sharply sculpted wheel flares appear directly adapted from the RX-8 in a form the company calls Mazda design DNA. Flared wheel arches also spread wide enough to cover the new-generation Miata's wider track. (Track is the distance between the left and right wheels). The MX-5's track is three inches wider in front, two inches wider in the rear when compared with the previous model. This gives the MX-5 a more athletic stance. The MX-5 looks more aggressive and less cuddly than its predecessors.

The soft top is the best yet, and one of the best in all sportscardom. The top, with its heated glass rear window, collapses into a well behind the seats cleanly and completely, in a way requiring no cover boot. That's good, because there are plenty of times when you'd like to drop the top but don't want to take time to snap on a cover. Now it looks neatly finished when it's down, with no additional effort. As with previous models, it's manually operated, but so light and easy to use you can do it with one hand while sitting in the driver's seat. You'll never wish for power assistance. This is distinctly different from, say, the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, whose tops are far more involved to raise and lower.

The folding hardtop is a mastery of good design. The PRHT is a cinch to operate, quick to fold, and a miracle of space efficiency. Stop the car, put it in neutral (or Park for the automatic). Pop a single handle at the top of the windshield, touch a button on the dash and in 12 seconds the top has contorted itself into the same well the soft-top uses. The hardtop is made of lightweight materials: sheet molding compound on the outside and glass fiber-reinforced polypropylene on the inside. The entire apparatus including electric motors adds less than 80 pounds to the featherweight car, thus maintaining the MX-5's wonderful agility and balance.

A rear panel aft of the front seats raises as part of this dance to allow the top to drop into the well, and covers it back up once it's snuggled in place. Trunk room is not impacted in any way, a blessing because the MX-5 has so little of it to begin with. (Note that even some of the luxury-class folding-hardtop sportscars suffer here, because their tops actually fold down into the trunk and eat up as much as half the available cargo space. Not so for the MX-5.) A slight ridge sculpted into the PRHT's top cover is the only noticeable difference between the hardtop and soft top cars' appearance when the tops are down.

With the top down, you'll notice rollbar-like hoops rising out of the body behind the seats; Mazda doesn't list them as safety features, calling them seat back bars, but they're certainly more than merely surfaces to which decorative trim can be affixed. A mesh windblocker fits between the hoops. Small quarter windows, like yesteryear's windwings, fill the acute angle where the doors meet the A-pillars. Door handles are finger-friendly full rounds, instead of the previous model's top-hinged pull-ups. The hardtop boasts a larger rear window than the soft top offers, substantially reducing the convertible's rear quarter blind spots.

Taillights retain the basic elliptical outline of Miatas past but, like the headlights, nestle a little closer toward the car's middle. Even the rear license plate housing's contours are round and crisply molded into the surrounding sheet metal. A horizontal, black panel beneath the rear bumper echoes the front end's air dam, only this one is braced by twin exhaust tips, adding a look of purposefulness to the tail end.

For 2007, there are two new paint colors in the palate: Stormy Blue Mica and Highland Green Mica and some additional bright

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