Review 2010 Mazda MX-5: Adjust your hat and sunglasses and rip through the gears

close to becoming a teenager, the Mazda MX-5 (still called the Miata by
purists) is in its third edition as the best-selling sports car in

Since its debut in 1989, more than 850,000 Miatas have
sold, and a lot more will likely sell considering the upgrades — some
substantial, some subtle — for the 2010 model. The new edition is
available with a manual-folding soft top with a heated-glass rear
window or a power-folding hardtop, and there are 10 trims. It all ups
up to a sure-thing to continue the sports car's legacy.

The Weekly Driver’s Ratings

Impression: My weekly driver, the grand touring soft top model, arrived
a few days before Halloween. Its exterior color, Competition Yellow,
was ideal for the week. The tone is more orange than yellow and it's
striking, for good or bad. Lots of onlookers commented on my pumpkin on

Acceleration (6)
its low-to-the-ground profile and classic two-seat sports car feel, the
MX-5 seems fast. Better described, it's brisk. The six-speed manual
transmission has short throws and gearing is firm, which adds to the

Braking/Steering/Handling (9)
17-inch tires, a small, tight turning radius, little lean and
"stop-on-a-dime" quality brakes, what's not to like? It's a sports car
that commands the road and can't get enough of it.

Cargo Room (4)

a coupe, so how much cargo space should be expected? There's a small
trunk, for sure, and a lockable glovebox. And there are storage boxes
"hidden" behind the back of each seat. Not bad for a two-seater. One
downside: The position of the cupholders can interfere with shifting.

Controls/Gauges (6)
The controls are well-placed. Gauges are clearly marked and easy to read.

Details (6)
plastic throughout the cockpit, but it looks sharp. The Grand Touring
edition (my weekly driver) had leather trim and it added class. The
aforementioned hidden storage bins added a savvy touch.

Front Seats (6)
6-feet, 185 pounds and I fit OK in the Mazda MX-5. But anyone taller
would likely want for more leg room and definitely more head room when
the soft top is up. The Mazda MX-5 isn't spacious, but how many coupes

Fuel Economy (6)

A few major web sites got less than the
EPA city and freeway mpg estimates of 21 mpg and 28 mpg. But my
averages were within a few tenths of the numbers. Premium fuel is

Quietness (5)

Is there a quiet sports car? It's
not supposed to be part of the equation, is it? The Mazda is on par
with other sports cars. In short, it's noisy. But sports car owners
aren't looking for a luxury sedan. With the top down, though, the Mazda
MX-5 may be quieter than with its top up, and that's an oddity shared
by other sports cars.

Rear Seats (0)

There aren't any.

Ride Quality (6)
suspension package helps as do the 17-inch tires, but sports cars feel
bumps and whatever else the road has to offer. That's part of the fun
of sports cars.

Total (54 out of 100 )

— Sports car

Primary competition — Honda S2000, Nissan 370Z.

For standard equipment/option package information, visit:

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price
— $26,410.

Price As Driven — $29,310.

Mileage Estimates — 21 mpg (city), 28 mpg (hwy).

Warranty — Bumper-to-bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Roadside assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.

What Others Are Saying:

2010 Miata is a dream, especially for sports car enthusiasts on a
budget. It's quick, agile, great on gas and reliable too."

—- U.S. News & World Report

what the car is, and what it has always been, the MX-5 Miata is
essentially without peer. And whether you like the retractable hardtop
or not — and I do — the soft top is still available for purists, and
the hardtop just adds one more feature that makes the car a little more
practical as a daily driver."

—- Orlando Sentinel

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

the top's down, the sun is shining and there's a winding country road
nearby, the Mazda MX-5 is a lot of fun. Adjust your hat and sunglasses
and rip through the gears. Life is good. When the top's up, it's like a
lot of other convertibles. It's just not the same car, you know? But
it's still a good value in a crowded market."

James James, a journalist since 1976, is co-author of Tour de France For
Dummies. He owns several websites, contributes to many print and online
publications and is also the editor of A long-distance runner for nearly 30 years, Raia also rides his bike — to nearby coffeehouses. E-mail: