Just as the 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata carries on the look and feel of a classic British roadster, it delivers those wind-in-hair thrills with even better-than-expected performance. Thanks to incremental improvements—especially some engine, gearbox, and transmission tweaks last year—the MX-5 only stands to get better.
Powering both the roadster and hardtop convertible models is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 167 hp. Car and Driver observes of the hardtop convertible, “at 2560 pounds, it was 135 pounds heavier than our last MX-5 soft-top and did the 60-mph dash 0.3 second slower (7.0 seconds).” Impressive acceleration is matched with deft use of power via the 2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata’s rear-drive chassis. Kelley Blue Book says the weight balance "allows the car to perform remarkably nimble maneuvers that would be more difficult if the car had more of its weight biased to either end." Cars.com also notes that “the roadster has a 50/50 weight distribution (front/rear) and precise rack-and-pinion steering for legendary handling and predictability. The Miata is one of the most fun-to-drive cars around, despite its relatively modest engine power.”
The 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata comes with either a five- or six-speed manual transmission, depending on the trim level; a six-speed automatic is optional. “The six-speed manual has especially short throws,” and the manual shifter is a delight, reports the New York Times. “The shifter feels as though a team of engineers spent months working on its action, and a flick of the wrist rewards you with the rare feeling of metal engaging metal, a precision machine at work,” they wax. Cars.com points out that the six-speed automatic “includes steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles for manual operation.”
It all comes together extremely well; reviewers are almost unanimously beaming about the overall performance package. Mazda has created a vehicle that "changes direction like a go-kart, communicates clearly to the driver and accelerates with an inspiring inline-4 growl," raves Edmunds. The New York Times says, “On paper it seems unremarkable, but a mere spec sheet won’t divulge the essence of this car. Its 167-horsepower engine doesn’t make face-melting power, but it seems to have no flywheel whatsoever, and a blip of the throttle results in an instant, melodic zing that begs you to match revs on your next downshift.”