Review 2009 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring: not built for shaved down silver-backs like me


Dude, it’s like shoving a Rottweiler into a Pomeranian’s kennel! A fun to drive, hardtop convertible kennel… I guess.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the
Mazda MX-5 as it is a real driver’s car. Unfortunately, it’s not built
for shaved down silver-backs like me. At 6’2” and 250 lbs, I have a
hard time with comfort in the narrow confines of the Mazda MX-5,
especially when the nifty retractable hardtop roof is up.

Still, roof down, stereo up and a twisty section of highway in the Mazda MX-5 is heaven.

original Mazda Miata (MX-5’s 1st name) was a throwback to British and
Italian rag-top sports cars from yester-year. The main difference was
the little Miata’s uncanny ability to retain its oil, run easily past
100K miles and function as reliably as any well made Japanese import –
– while being a hoot to drive.

Although this new model is a great
deal larger and heavier than the original Miata, the ingredients remain
the same: fun, swift, engaging, light and Mazda. The most important
part for me is (obviously) “fun.” When you can feel the road through
the steering wheel, tire adhesion through the seat of your pants and
the suspension (taut double wishbone front and ubiquitous multi link
rear suspension) throughout your body, it’s something special. Best of
all, when you take it easy and simply commute the Mazda MX-5 is easy on
the driver.

Starting at about $23,000 my Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring
with hardtop convertible, comfy heated leather and excellent Bose
stereo came in at about $31,000.

A tried and true 167 horsepower (which makes 140 lbs feet of torque)
2.0 liter, 4-cylinder connects to a sweet shifting 6-speed manual
transmission. Or, if you have coordination problems and don’t mind
adding about 30 lbs to the Mazda MX-5 (while losing about 10
horsepower), there is a “6-speed Sport with Adaptive Shift Logic and
steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.”

0 to 60 comes in about a
ho-hum 7 seconds and stopping from 60 to 0 is in a stellar 110 feet.
Straight-line acceleration is not the MX-5’s bag. If you are even
remotely interested in taking turns while having a
hell of a good time – THAT’S what this car does. Sure, there is some
body lean and you have to rev the engine hard to get that fat rpm
drivers look for when pulling out of a corner, hell that what’s SO fun!
I think I can honestly say that this car connects with its driver more
quickly than any other sporty car I’ve recently driven.

the amusing part of the Mazda MX-5. I got damn good mileage, despite my
‘head full of bad wiring’ style of driving. I got over 22 mpg combined.
The last fun car I managed to do that in was a 2007 Mini Cooper S.
Which reminds me; these two cars (Mini S and Mazda MX-5) are closely
matched both in performance and in endearing personality. At 2,511 lbs
the MX-5 weighs about 300 lbs less than the Mini S Convertible.

Both are a ton of fun to drive.

only gripe (other than the tight confines) was the hard top
convertible. I know I know… it doesn’t take up any of the miniscule
trunk and it provides superb isolation from the elements – I still
don’t dig it. Tiz a personal thing I suppose. I say, a light weight car
deserves a non electric, light weight fabric roof that folds with a
flick of your wrist. Okay, there IS one available. I suppose those who
want to cruise in their Mazda MX-5 in inclement weather would
appreciate the well engineered roof. Besides, anyone over 6’3” would
have to drive hunched over. Unlike a soft top, the hard top has no
give. Wearing a hat prompted me to think like Quasimodo before I got

All in all, if you are flying solo and need
something that remembers the thrill of driving (rather than reminding
you that it can be a burden) please look at the Mazda MX-5.

Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car
sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out
of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to
enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his
page HERE. Photos by: N.D.