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:

Owner Maintenance Schedule
The owner or a qualified service technician should make these vehicle inspections at the indicated intervals to ensure safe and dependable operation. Bring any problem to the attention of an Autho ...

Styling
By modern standards, the Miata is a small car, measuring just 13 feet from end to end and standing just 49 inches tall. Its low-slung, athletic shape is appealing, and its proportions are just rig ...

Seat Belt
Fastening the Seat Belt 1. Grasp the seat belt tongue. 2. Slowly pull out the lap/shoulder belt. 3. Insert the seat belt tongue into the seat belt buckle until you hear a click sound. WARNIN ...