Mazda MX-5 2009

If you don't like fun, if you prefer to mope about and wallow in your own misery, you're going to have to skip the Mazda MX-5. That might seem easy, because you probably don't know that "MX-5" is Mazda's official name for its two-seat convertible, also known as the Miata. Sound a little more familiar? Then "Miata" is the name I'll use from now on as a constant reminder so you don't accidentally drive one and ruin an otherwise glum day.

Some people think convertibles are inherently fun; some don't. The same can be said of small cars: fun by design, or cramped and invisible to larger cars and trucks? Take away the convertible aspect and peewee size, and the Miata is still fun — a fun you can't understand unless you drive it. And so it has been since the Miata revived the affordable-roadster market 20 years ago. The first model was a 1990, but it hit the market in 1989, so the 2009 I tested celebrates a birthday, if not technically an anniversary. I celebrate the upgrades Mazda implemented for this model year, including some suspension changes, a higher engine redline, new seats and revised styling. (Compare other changes side-by-side.)

As equipped, my test Miata Grand Touring with its optional power-retractable hardtop and several other options cost a steep $31,010. Fortunately, the fun isn't sacrificed in the base trim level with a manual soft-top, which starts at $21,750. At this price, the Miata competes with the erstwhile Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, which constitute a decent first effort from General Motors but have nowhere near the Miata's quality and refinement. There are other, cheaper convertibles, but none with the Miata's size, rear-wheel drive and overall gestalt.

See also:

How to Use This Manual
We want to help you get the most driving pleasure from your vehicle. Your owner's manual, when read from cover to cover, can do that in many ways. Illustrations complement the words of the manual ...

Concentrated
Mazda pursued a concentrated, taut form for the body as a virtue in itself, not to simply reduce the car's body size. This creative background was advantageous in efforts to achieve maximum dynamic ...

Hazardous Driving
WARNING. Be extremely careful if it is necessary to downshift on slippery surfaces: Downshifting into lower gear while driving on slippery surfaces is dangerous. The sudden change in tire speed ...