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2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring

The MX-5 Miata may not be a stellar tech powerhouse, but it's probably the purest driving experience you'll find this side of a Lotus.

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Antuan Goodwin
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One happy roadster

The MX-5 gets a styling update that looks more aggressive from some angles. But from straight on, it just looks happy to see you.
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2.0-liter engine

Behind the MX-5's goofy grinning face is a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that generates 167 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque.
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Quick, but not fast

At no point does the MX-5 feel underpowered, but she's no neck-snapper. 0-60 comes in about 7 to 8 seconds.
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HID headlamps

As part of an optional premium package, the MX-5 Miata receives upgraded Xenon HID headlamps, keyless entry and start, antitheft alarm, Bluetooth hands-free calling, and traction control.
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Suspension package

A suspension package upgrade adds a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein dampers and a limited-slip differential. Oddly, the MX-5 Grand Touring's suspension package and premium package must be purchased together, making us wonder why they are separate packages to begin with.
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Not much of a Grand Tourer

The Mazda MX-5's short wheelbase, thin canvas soft top, and relative lack of sound deadening make highway blasts a loud and bumpy affair.
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Manual soft top

The MX-5 has one of the easiest-to-use manual soft tops on the road and can be opened or closed from the driver's seat. Simply release the roof latch, toss the top back, and snap it into place for open-air motoring. The whole process takes about 5 seconds.
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How's that for headroom

Our taller editors wished for a bit more top-up head room. Stowing the roof seemed to--at least, temporarily--solve their problems.
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Macho Miata

The MX-5 has a bit of a reputation as a "hairdresser's car," but aggressive fenders--reminiscent of those on the Mazda RX-8--add a bit of masculinity.
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Low is the only way to go

The MX-5 is not a wide vehicle, but with a very low center of gravity--and a stiff sport suspension--it exhibited almost no body roll.
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A usable trunk

The MX-5 features a surprisingly spacious and useful trunk for a vehicle of its small stature and the convertible top doesn't intrude into the storage space when the top is down.
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A functional cabin

The MX-5's cabin is quite simple and practically devoid of tech. Leather seating surfaces, steering wheel, shift lever, and e-brake handles add a high-quality feel to the Grand Touring model.
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Bose audio

Cabin tech is virtually nonexistent. A six-disc, seven-speaker Bose audio system plays back MP3 CDs and features an aux-input, but there's no USB/iPod option and no navigation to be had. Bluetooth hands-free is added as part of the premium package that is only available at the Grand Touring trim level.
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Manual transmission

The Miata Grand Touring is available with a six-speed automatic transmission, but that really defeats the purpose of driving a small, simple roadster. Our tester was equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox with a short-throw shifter.
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Instrumentation

The MX-5's simple instrumentation includes (left to right) a fuel gauge, tachometer, oil pressure gauge, speedometer, and coolant temperature gauge. Hidden in the center is a small monochromatic trip computer.
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Steering wheel controls

The MX-5's small, chunky wheel fits well in the driver's hand with a race-car feel that suits the Miata's direct, goes-where-you-point-it steering. Audio controls, cruise control, and a button to activate the voice-commanded Bluetooth hands-free system reside on the wheel's face.
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Pure driving experience

The MX-5 Miata may not be a stellar tech powerhouse, but it is a great car. Its simple, focused design keeps the driver involved and offers fantastic handling and balance. Starting at $22,500 ($29,250 as tested), it is one of the purest driving experiences you can have on this side of a $50k Lotus Elise.

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