2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Hard top down

Two seater

Power Retractable Hard Top

Security and protection

Gone in 12 seconds

Top tucked away

Fun-loving face

2.0-liter engine

Six-speed manual

Rear-wheel driven

Simple and spartan

Optional leather seats

Basic tech

The dashboard

Heated buns

Tossable and parkable

Rear visibility

Storage space

Power locks, keyless start

HID headlamps

Bilstein suspension

Not for the power-hungry

Corner carver

Casual cruiser

Our favorite roadster

Long live the Roadster

This isn't the first time that the third-generation Mazda Miata has passed through the Car Tech garage, but it will be the last.

Caption by / Photo by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Our example is equipped with Mazda's Power Retractable Hard Top or PRHT.

Caption by / Photo by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The MX-5 treats just two people at a time to open air motoring.

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At highway speeds, when parked, or in the rain, the PRHT encloses the cabin in seconds.

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I prefer the simplicity of the manual ragtop, but the PRHT provides better security and protection from the elements.

Caption by / Photo by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The top retracts or deploys in just 12 seconds at the touch of a button.

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The Z-fold roof stores beneath its own integrated tonneau cover.

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The fun-loving MX-5 hasn't changed much since the last major revision in 2008.

Caption by / Photo by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The engine is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gasoline deal that outputs 167 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque.

Caption by / Photo by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

In this Grand Touring model, the engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission.

Caption by / Photo by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Of course, the MX-5 is rear-wheel driven, as befits a proper sports car.

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The cabin is simple, featuring only the bare necessities for motoring.

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The seats are supportive, but not uncomfortable during long trips.

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Our model is equipped with a seven-speaker Bose audio system, but only the most basic of audio sources. USB and Bluetooth audio are still missing.

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The instrumentation sticks with the MX-5's simple aesthetic and the wheel fits nicely in the hand.

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This fully loaded model features warmers for its leather seats -- a nice treat on a cold morning.

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In addition to being fun to drive, the MX-5 is easy to park.

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Rear visibility isn't bad when the top is up thanks to a generous rear glass window.

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The trunk is modest, but there's room for at least two carry-on sized bags. The PRHT does not intrude into the trunk space when retracted.

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Keyless entry and start are added as part of the $1,390 Premium package.

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Also part of that Premium package are Xenon HID headlamps.

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This example also features an optional Bilstein sport suspension with a rear limited slip differential.

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The MX-5 is no powerhouse, but it's one of the best driving experiences on the road today.

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Going quickly with just 140 pound-feet on tap becomes and exercise in retaining speed through apexes. Fortunately, cornering is what the MX-5 does best.

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However, the MX-5 is also very approachable. It's handling has a soft edge and ease to it that won't scare away more casual motorists.

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This is a car that's as much fun to drive at the speed limit on the road as it is when pushing its handling limits at the track.

Caption by / Photo by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Due for replacement in early September, we'll miss the third-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, but are eagerly awaiting the 2016 model's improvements.

Caption by / Photo by Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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