- Direct, quick handling
- Rev-happy engine
- Great manual gearbox
- Lack of crash-test data
- Cramped cockpit
- Noisy on the highway
If you want that classic roadster feel—and to feel like you’re going fast without having to break triple digits—the 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata delivers it with surprising frugality and practicality.
The 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata brings the classic roadster look into the modern age with excellent reliability, great handling, and a weather-tight optional power-folding hardtop. For more than 20 years, the Miata has charmed those interested in a back-to-basics sports car that brings thrills but not necessarily a lot of frills.
From the outside, the Miata gets a more aggressive front end and a revised rear bumper last year, along with new lightweight 16- and 17-inch wheels. Overall, however, it keeps with a very classic roadster appearance, featuring a long hood, short cockpit-like cabin, and rear decklid.
The 2010 Miata’s four-cylinder engine is very responsive and rev-happy, with sports car-perfect handling, quick short-ratio steering, and short-throw manual transmissions that are a joy to run through the gears. Beginning in 2009, the combination became even more enjoyable with redline for the engine pushed up and new carbon-coated synchros for the gearbox.
At the top of the Miata range is a PRHT (power retractable hardtop) model, which is very well executed; when the hardtop is retracted and folded away, the Miata still has 5.3 cubic feet of trunk space. While that’s much smaller than any sedan, it’s large enough for most overnight bags or a couple of duffels. The PRHT model adds very little extra weight, and the top stows away in just 12 seconds; unlike some other hardtop convertible models, it doesn’t hamper the fun.
The standard soft top is easy to use and surprisingly weather-tight. Just flick the header latches and flip it over the shoulder (most will be able to use one arm) into a shallow holding area. The only downside of the soft top is noise; it’s not as well-insulated as some pricier soft tops, and you’ll get a fair amount of wind and road noise on the highway.
Inside, the MX-5 is small but roomier than you might think. The seats provide both better comfort and support, while the center console has more storage space; the tallest drivers will want to double-check for enough headroom and legroom, though. The interior is neatly trimmed with high-quality materials, and it's even a little more spacious than before, though no one will complain about too much shoulder room in a Miata.
The 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a mixed bag for safety. There aren’t any crash-test results to draw on and verify occupant protection, and the Miata doesn’t include all the standard safety features that most other sports cars now include. Side airbags and anti-lock brakes are standard, but electronic stability control is only offered as part of a $1,650 Premium Package.
In its lower Sport or Touring forms, the 2010 Miata is strictly a no-frills sports car. Standard equipment, at least in terms of comforts, is about on par with that of budget-conscious small cars; features on all models include power windows, power mirrors, a CD player, and tilt steering. Touring models include upgraded wheels and tires, a trip computer, keyless entry, and cruise control, while Grand Touring models add leather trim, heated seats, and automatic climate control, among other features. Options include the six-speed automatic, Sirius Satellite Radio, steering-wheel audio controls, and a sport suspension.