While the optional Sirius Satellite radio looks like a mitigating factor, in practice, it is maddeningly frustrating to use. The Miata's single-line monochrome LCD head unit display does not appear to show any text information for Sirius stations, leaving drivers to select music by ear or--in the unlikely event that they are familiar with Sirius station numerical designations--by number. Even when navigating CDs and AM/FM radio, the stereo controls are less than intuitive: for example, drivers skip tracks and stations with the use of a vertically mounted toggle switch, requiring an up-and-down movement rather than a more typical left-and-right action.
The Grand Touring Miata's seven speakers (two in each door, with one center fill) are more than adequate for delivering an engaging audio experience into the car's small cabin. The Bose sound system is tuned to be bass-heavy, even with flat EQ settings--an effect that is enhanced when the roof clasp is released.
On a positive note, the car's 5 cubic feet of trunk space, while hardly generous, gives the Miata a real, accessible trunk with as much room and access with the roof up as with it down--more than can be said for either the 2007 Saturn Sky or the 2006 Pontiac Solstice.
Under the hood
Mercifully, our test car was not optioned with the $1,100 automatic transmission, so we had the pleasure of motivating our Miata with the standard 6-speed manual gearbox with short-throw shifter. While we enjoyed the snappy gear changes that this box allowed, we noticed a degree of notchiness in the shifter, which appeared reluctant to slot into the gates at times, especially in low gears. The hardtop MX-5's 2.0-liter, in-line four-cylinder mill doesn't scream performance, but our tester felt extremely nippy, especially through the middle gears, and there was plenty of usable power right up through the range. From standing, the 166-horsepower Miata breezes its way to 60mph in a shade over 7 seconds, making it quicker than both the Pontiac Solstice and the Saturn Sky, both of which have larger engines and more horsepower.
Even with the extra weight in the back, courtesy of the hardtop and its associated electrical systems, the Miata displayed a touch of understeer when pushed hard through some winding roads, perhaps partially due to its arch-filling 17-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels, but more likely due to its over-officious stability control, which intervened with the slightest provocation. With stability control off, the Miata lives up to its reputation for fun, feeling balanced and responsive. In our week with the car we carved our way through 200 miles of highway, city and canyon driving, posting an average fuel economy of 24mpg, which is toward the low end of the EPA's estimates.
Our tester 2007 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring was the highest trim-level model and came with a base price tag of $26,360. To that we added the Suspension package ($500) and the Premium 2 package (which, along with the DSC, added keyless entry and ignition, an alarm, and xenon headlights). All told, our car weighed in at $28,670 including delivery. For that kind of money, the Miata PRHT finds itself up against the naturally aspirated versions of the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky.