Exterior & Styling

Technically the same generation as the 2008, the 2009 model's restyling is definitely noticeable, as the nose extends lower and the grille is now larger and smile-shaped. Unlike the Mazda3, this smile isn't overdone. The headlights are more shapely. The rear bumper is also deeper and wider, with a more prominent crease on the side, and the tailpipes are now flush with the bumper. Mazda says the side sills and taillights are also reshaped, but it's mainly for aerodynamics and they're not easily distinguishable from the 2008 version. I think the changes are positive overall, but of course the best-looking Miata ever made was the 2002 Special Edition in Titanium Gray Metallic. I don't believe that simply because I own one. I own one because I believe that.

The hardtop's operation is reasonably quick and slick, and the sole manual step is to latch or unlatch at the top-center of the windshield using a single handle. The car looks good in profile when the top is down, though if you look closely the deck lid isn't as clean and seamless as most hardtops — and even some ragtops — are nowadays. On the upside, the roof panels don't sacrifice trunk space versus the soft-top, which is unheard of with this type of top. Though the trunk isn't large to begin with, its top-down volume is more than double those of the Solstice and Sky, whose cargo area is a cumbersome horseshoe shape even when their tops are raised. Note that the hardtop adds 82 pounds to the curb weight, but price increases vary with trim level. It's offered on the Sport, Touring and Grand Touring, where it adds $2,640, $1,700 and $1,840, respectively.

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