The exceptionally tight steering gave us a clue of what the Miata does well. Taking it out onto our favorite roads, we let the engine run high as we downshifted to third gear and took advantage of the sharp turn-in as we got into a corner. At the edge, we felt that lean, but the back end showed little desire to step out, the tires all holding grip very well.
With the top down we enjoyed this testing a little too much, trying to get the Miata out of shape in successive turns, but the tight steering allowed for easy correction even with guard rails whipping by at what felt like extreme speeds.
But a glance down at the speedometer showed that the Miata wasn't going as fast as we thought. As one of our usual testing roads, we know that the better sport cars can take these turns at 70 mph, but the Miata was only doing about 50. Some strange combination of open top, high exhaust note, and sport suspension made the car feel a lot faster than its instruments indicated.
As we plunged down mountain roads following locals in Civics and Corollas, the Miata still felt fast, but the gap between our car and the ones in front told a different story.
As mentioned above, the Miata is light on cabin tech. Even in Grand Touring trim, navigation is unavailable. And from our review of the , we know that Mazda can put navigation in a small, inexpensive car.
Our hunt for a USB port in the car also turned up nothing; the only option for external music devices being an eighth-inch auxiliary input. On the plus side, the stereo did have satellite radio, and the in-dash six-CD changer reads MP3 CDs, allowing for a pretty big music library.
Music plays through a seven-speaker Bose audio system, standard in the Miata Grand Touring model. This system includes two tweeters, door-mounted mids, and two extra speakers near the headrests, which make the sound audible during open-top driving. There is also a center channel speaker, but, strangely, no subwoofer. As a result, the audio is not quite as bass-oriented as we are used to with Bose systems.
The center channel helps staging, making the music seem to come from a point above the center of the dashboard. The quality is generally good, although it lacks the detail of a strong audiophile system.
Also standard with the Grand Touring trim is a Bluetooth phone system, operated through voice command. This system works reasonably well, and includes onscreen feedback showing phone numbers dialed. It does have a phone book function, but will not download contacts from a paired phone.
The 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata remains an excellent design, even after more than 20 years of production. The retractable hard top looks good and uses a smart design, even better than that in other hard-top convertibles.
Although very fun to drive, its performance tech is far from cutting edge. Variable valve timing for the engine helps produce decent power, but this engine could be even more efficient. The suspension is nicely engineered, but lacks more-advanced technologies. The six-speed manual transmission is impressive for its precision, but it is not exactly new technology.
Where the Miata is least impressive is in the cabin. Even at its highest trim level, navigation is not an option, nor is iPod integration. We appreciate the Bose audio system, six-CD changer, and Bluetooth phone system, but those technologies have been around for years.
|Model||2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata|
|Trim||Grand Touring PRHT|
|Power train||2-liter four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual transmission|
|EPA fuel economy||21 mpg city/28 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||22.2 mpg|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||MP3-compatible, six-CD changer|
|MP3 player support||None|
|Other digital audio||Satellite radio, auxiliary audio input|
|Audio system||Bose seven-speaker system|
|Price as tested||$31,300|