- Engaging handling
- Perky four-cylinder engine
- Great manual shifter
- Tight cockpit
- Lack of safety data
- No stability control on base models
The 2008 Mazda MX-5 Miata brings the classic roadster into the modern era, with fantastic handling and an optional power-folding hardtop.
The 2008 Mazda MX-5 has dropped the "Miata" tag from its official name, but enthusiasts know it best by that--and its fun handling, quick-release convertible top, and deft steering and braking.
This year, there are both retractable-hardtop and soft-top Mazda MX-5 roadsters for sale. Both are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 170 horsepower and a five- or six-speed manual, depending on trim levels. The engine makes 166 hp with the optional six-speed automatic. Fuel economy ranges from 22/27 mpg to 20/27 mpg.
The Mazda MX-5 is the closest thing to a reincarnated British roadster on the planet--though one with altogether better reliability and fit and finish. The four-cylinder engines are zippy and responsive, the steering and handling are sportscar-perfect, and the manual transmissions are a sheer joy to shift.
The new shape introduced last year takes some getting used to--it's more Mr. Roboto than revived Lotus Elan. The interior is neatly trimmed with high-quality materials, and it's even a little roomier than before, though no one will complain about too much shoulder room in a Miata. The soft top is easy to use; just flick the header latches and flip it over the shoulder into a shallow holding area, and you'll still have enough luggage room for a short weekend trip.
Last year the Miata gained the retractable hardtop option. When the hardtop is retracted and folded away, the Miata has 5.3 cubic feet of trunk space--more than enough for the typical overnight bag. This version of the Miata comes in just 80 pounds heavier than the standard soft-top roadster, and the top takes just 12 seconds to fold away, so the effect on performance is minimal.
Standard features include power windows, power mirrors, a CD player, and tilt steering. Optional features include the six-speed automatic, power locks, Sirius Satellite Radio, steering-wheel audio controls, and a sport suspension. Dual front and side airbags, along with anti-lock brakes, are standard, but stability control is only available on the most expensive model. The 2008 Mazda MX-5 has not been crash tested by the NHTSA.