Iconic Miata makes open-air cruising fun


An all-new, fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata debuted last year, and 2017 offers minor revisions and the introduction of an all-new RF (Retractable Fastback) model featuring a power retractable hardtop.

Because of last year’s full makeover, the only revision to 2017 Miata soft-top models is the addition of blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert on the mid-range Club trim.

The current MX-5 Miata is vastly improved over its predecessor, further refining its “fun-to-drive” experience.

More than one million copies have been sold since the iconic Miata first debuted for the 1990 model year. Enthusiasts adore it for its attractive roadster design and its impressive driving performance. Miata has enjoyed a cult-like following, and many competitive models (known as “Miata fighters”) have come and gone over the years.

The use of more lightweight materials helps the current Miata soft-top tip the scales at about 150 pounds less than the previous generation, yet it outweighs the original model by only 182 pounds — which is remarkable when you consider the additional technology and safety features of the new car versus the original.

Because of its lightweight structure, well-balanced front engine-rear drive configuration, nicely tuned suspension and likable steering feel, Miata provides impressive agility, carving up twisty roads with ease and delight.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata soft top is offered in three trim levels; Sport ($24,915), Club ($28,800) and Grand Touring ($30,065).

Powering all MX-5 Miata models is a 155-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It does not offer neck-snapping acceleration, but it does provide adequate power for this svelte two-seater.

All Miata models can be had with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. I prefer the short-throw manual gearbox for its sportier driving experience.

The Sport trim is nicely equipped, but performance enthusiasts will likely prefer the Club trim.

The Club trim swaps out 16-inch alloy wheels for 17-inch alloy wheels, adds a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein dampers (manual only), limited slip differential (manual only), shock tower brace (manual only), induction sound enhancer (manual only), Bose audio system, 7-inch touchscreen display and more.

Unfortunately, if you choose the Club trim and opt for the automatic transmission, you forgo several key performance enhancements.

Stepping up to the top-of-the-line Grand Touring trim adds many luxuries, but without the previously mentioned performance enhancements found in the Club trim.

Regardless of which model you choose, the MX-5 Miata looks great with its top up or down, and transitioning between the two can be done easily from a seated position.

The cabin is snug. Taller folks may not have enough head room with the top up or enough leg room.

There is no glove box, but there is a storage bin between the two seat backs. The cargo area is a mere 4.59 cubic feet, offering barely enough room for a couple of small-sized travel bags.

The Miata would not be my first choice for long road trips, but its impressive open-air driving characteristics make it a great choice for summertime cruising.

Previously from Autos