2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata review: 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.1
  • Cabin tech: 5.0
  • Performance tech: 6.0
  • Design: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Tight steering and a precise gearbox make driving the 2010 Mazda Miata a very enjoyable experience. Retractable hard top does not affect trunk space.

The Bad Navigation and iPod integration are not options. Could use more power.

The Bottom Line The 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata is an absolute blast to drive, but tech options lag behind the pack.

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For fun, it is hard to beat the 2010 Mazda Miata. With its tight steering and short throw shifter, the car is a driver's dream, and it had us laughing maniacally as we slung it down every curvy road we could find.

But Miata fans will howl at this review, as the Miata's tech, from cabin to under the hood, is only average. Our Grand Touring trim car was about as good as it gets, fitted with Bose audio and a Bluetooth phone system.

The Miata has had plenty of time to gain fans, as the original model showed up more than 20 years ago, and reignited interest in roadsters. This latest model features a huge smile across its front, an intentional arrangement of grille, headlights, and badge. In a recent update, Mazda attempted to butch up the look a little, probably worried about alienating male buyers, by making the fenders more pronounced, but there's no hiding that goofy grin.

Mazda's retractable hard top stows itself behind the cabin, and does not affect trunk space.

Our car also came with a retractable hard top, only available on the Touring and Grand Touring models, which, when up, gives the Miata a decidedly racecar-like roofline. This top is ingeniously designed, as it folds down into a compartment behind the cabin. That means it does not affect trunk space, as does the retractable hard top on the BMW Z4 sDrive35is , nor does it change the Miata's weight distribution much.

Buzz bomb
The Miata's engine, a 2-liter four-cylinder, uses variable valve timing to eke out 167 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque, but Mazda hasn't yet adopted direct injection or forced air to give the car a performance edge. Zipping down the road with the engine revved up, the car sounds like a little buzz bomb, its exhaust note a high growl rather than a sonorous blat.

The small engine has its upside, namely an EPA-rated 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. With all of our high-rpm driving, we stayed at the low end of that range, turning in a final average of 22.2 mpg.

While enjoying the curvy roads, we found the car needed a lot of gear changes because of the close-ratio gearbox. But we were quite happy shifting through the Miata's six gears, as the shifter felt tight and precise. A six-speed automatic is available for the Miata, but actually opting for it would be a crime against automotive kind. The six-speed manual is part of what makes this car fun.

The six-speed manual is a must-have in the Miata, its precise gate making shifting a joy.

What should be included is the $500 Suspension package, a no-brainer option consisting of sport-tuned suspension, Bilstein shocks, and a limited slip differential. Our car came with this option, making it pliable for everyday driving, yet a good performer in the corners. It is not a perfect compromise, as the car shows some lean when pushed hard in a turn, but we liked how it comfortably damped out the bumps in the road.

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2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Part Number: 101148069
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Body style Convertible
  • Available Engine Gas