But, with a total weight of roughly 2,500 pounds, the 167-horsepower 2. But what it provides in driving enjoyment puts it solidly in pole position, with feedback - both mechanical and aural - fully appropriate to the classic sports-car experience. Put the weights at the ends of the broomstick, and try to spin it like a baton. It's attractively priced, easy to maintain and won't break you at the gas pump. With 167 horsepower at 7,000 rpm from its 2. The interior materials are well above what we'd expect at this price, with Grand Touring models outfitted with heated leather seats, Bose audio and automatic climate control. The seats might be marginally comfortable for some, and a few people may find them not to be the best for longer trips.
What's so cool about all this shifting around of mechanicals and components is, it works. For taller drivers, thigh support is acceptable at best, and there is still no lumbar adjustment. Moving up from the Touring trim level to the Grand Touring adds a black or beige cloth top instead of the Sport and Touring black vinyl top , automatic air conditioning, leather seating and a Bose audio system. It's more than mere transport; it's transport to another place. The current generation's 6-speed doesn't quite match the effortlessness of the previous 5-speed, but it's close, and improvements introduced for 2009 have moved it a long way in the right direction. Its crispness and light effort have been pretty much the gold standard in manuals.
And, while its development over twenty years has necessarily accommodated new safety and emission legislation, the tight, lithe platform continues to deliver an almost magical connection with the asphalt and fresh air. A more aggressive Sport suspension with Bilstein shocks and limited-slip differential can be added to both Touring and Grand Touring models equipped with the manual transmission. Depending on the weather, the cloth upholstery can be more comfortable than leather, which comes standard in the Grand Touring models. Believe it or not, it's been 23 years since the introduction of the Mazda Miata. Hood, trunk, front suspension control arms, rear suspension uprights and rear brake calipers are all crafted in a material many carmakers seem yet to discover in any meaningful quantities.
The Miata formula has been copied, but measured by all-around capability and grin-per-mile factor, it hasn't been surpassed. There's a decent amount of storage for a small, two-seat car: A lockable glove box that's surprisingly roomy, storage in the center console, and bins behind each of the seats with the soft top they're sacrificed in Hard Top models. Still, the hardtop's cabin isn't nearly as hushed as the average sedan's. The sleek exterior shares no sheet metal or parts with the last-generation Miata, but the two look amazingly similar. The throws are delicate and light, and the lever goes just where you want it, as if wired to your brain. Shifts are smooth, but noticeable, in either mode. Wind noise is well muted, although the rear window shivers a bit.
The hardtop roof's headliner is finished in a hard, flat-black textured covering that, if not luxurious, is certainly tidy. The solid roof pays sound-deadening dividends, and the radio is a lot easier to hear than in the convertible when its fabric top is up. Neither the soft top nor the retractable hard top impact trunk room. The Miata has historically offered about the best-shifting gearbox on the planet. And, as noted, a 6-speed automatic is optional across the board, but truly appropriate only if you've lost your left leg in a racing accident. Vettraino and Laura Burstein contributed to this report.
It's also with the standard suspension. But the pedal pressure required is very light around town, necessitating a get-used-to-it period before your right foot learns how lightly it needs to tread. Especially important for a sports car, the closer weight is clustered around what engineers call the vertical yaw axis the better. These design features help maintain a sports-car appropriate weight balance of 51 percent over the front wheels and 49 percent over the rear in the hard top. Liberal use of lightweight and high tensile metals, along with fresh thinking in such basics as how much a rearview mirror weighs, kept weight to within 22 pounds of the second-generation Miata. . The exhaust note was something Mazda's engineers worked very hard at for the original Miata, and we miss its classic sports car sound.
It's manually operated, but so light and easy to use you can raise or lower it with one hand while sitting in the driver's seat. Although Mazda has improved it and updated it over the years, its spirit remains intact. Yet it's very easy to live with. The spare tire was left out more to save weight than to add space for golf clubs. Playing with the gears in a sports car should entertain not only in how the car moves down the road and through curves, but also aurally, in what you hear as well as what you feel. The automatic transmission does well in stop-and-go traffic. This is a simplification, but you get the point.
And much of that has been engineered into the car. With balance so close to perfect with two people on board, and with the sporty, asymmetrical-tread tires on the Touring and Grand Touring models. It's not so easy to get started, and once started it's difficult to stop. Track-day warriors might opt for the model with cloth upholstery, manual air conditioning, a simple stereo, and a 5-speed manual transmission, while those looking for a more luxe experience might choose leather upholstery, automatic climate control, the automatic transmission, and the upgraded Bose audio system, which remixes sound in real time to compensate for ambient noise with the top down. Imagine a broomstick with two five-pound weights attached. The seat shape has been refined for better lower-body comfort, while the backrest still delivers body-hugging lateral support. In the two-seat sports car context, the Miata delivers fun as well as cars that cost four or five times more.
This is a crucial reason the car remains true to its fun-loving roots. The gas tank was moved forward and lowered in the chassis. The retractable hardtop is offered on Touring or Grand Touring trim levels and adds the power retractable hardtop with a glass rear window and rear defroster. And so did the Mazda engineers. We could discern no difference with or without the mesh blocker panel in place between the seatback bars.