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TheCarConnection.com’s editors researched a wide range of road tests of the 2008 Mazda MX-5 Miata to write this definitive review. TheCarConnection.com’s resident experts also drove the Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster and hardtop to help you decide which reviews to trust where opinions differ, and to add more impressions and details and provide you with the best information.
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.
- Engaging handling
- Perky four-cylinder engine
- Great manual shifter
- Retractable hard top is light, useful
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- Tight cockpit
- Lack of safety data
- No stability control on base models