2008 MX-5 New Car Test Drive
Eighteen years after its late 1989 introduction, the Mazda Miata still puts a big grin on our faces. The Mazda MX-5, as it's now called, has been thoroughly updated twice, including a full re-design for 2006, but its lighthearted spirit remains intact.
This is a car to love, a car that delivers what the English sports cars of the 1950s and 60s promised but never quite managed: a delightful, supremely capable, well-engineered driving experience in a vehicle that starts every time and runs seemingly forever, with near-faultless Japanese quality and reliability.
A Power Retractable Hard Top, a solid roof that lowers in seconds at the touch of a button, is available for the MX-5. Called the PRHT, it provides the advantages of a hardtop overhead: reduced wind and road noise, increased security and a sense of solidity. Yet it folds completely out of sight for stylish cruising. What's more, not a whit of the driving experience has been sacrificed by the addition of hardtop practicality.
Traditional soft tops in cloth or vinyl come standard.
Five trim packages are available, along with two suspension setups and a dozen standalone options. So there are lots of choices, ranging from a $21,000 stripper to a loaded $28,000 model. In any case, the MX-5 is a rewarding sports car at an enticing price.
New for 2008: A six-disc CD changer comes on Touring and Grand Touring models; a seat-height adjustment has been added, and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System comes on all models.
The 2008 Mazda MX-5 comes in two body styles: convertible and Power Retractable Hard Top (PRHT). All MX-5 models are powered by the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Three transmissions are offered: a five-speed manual, a six-speed manual, and a six-speed automatic. The engine is rated at 166 horsepower, or 163 hp on automatics.
The least expensive MX-5 is a Special Value model, available by special order through one of Mazda's regional offices and designed to provide the basis for building a race car. The SV ($20,585) comes with a five-speed manual gearbox, 16-inch aluminum wheels, cloth upholstery, various interior storage pockets and bins, an AM/FM/CD sound system with four speakers, power mirrors, dual front and side airbags and, for 2008, a tire pressure monitor and driver's-side seat-height adjuster. Air conditioning is deleted.
The MX-5 Sport ($21,585) comes with the vinyl soft top, the five-speed manual gearbox, cloth upholstery, air conditioning and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and 16-inch aluminum wheels. A tire puncture repair kit fills in for a spare tire as it does on all MX-5s. The Sport convertible hardtop ($24,400) comes with a manual gearbox.
The Sport automatic ($23,740) comes with the Activematic six-speed transmission. The Sport automatic is only available with the soft top. A Convenience Package consisting of cruise control, fog lamps, keyless entry system and power door locks comes standard on the automatic.
The Touring model with soft top comes with a six-speed manual gearbox ($23,630) or six-speed automatic ($24,730) and adds fog lamps, power door locks, keyless entry, steering-wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls, and an in-dash six-CD changer. Handsome 17-inch aluminum wheels mounting 205/45R17 tires fill the wheel openings, and run-flat technology ($515) is available. The Touring convertible hard top is similarly equipped and comes with the six-speed manual ($25,500) or automatic ($26,600).
The Grand Touring with a six-speed manual gearbox ($24,890) or automatic ($25,990) adds heated leather seats, faux leather door trim, a nicer cloth soft top, and a Bose AM/FM/CD system with seven speakers and an in-dash 6CD changer. Order the rich-looking tan leather and you get tan door panels to match. The Grand Touring convertible hardtop is available with the six-speed manual ($26,760) or automatic ($27,860).
Options include the Convenience Package ($1055), which adds cruise control, fog lamps, keyless entry and power door locks to a manual-transmission Sport model. The Suspension Package ($500) up-rates the handling with Bilstein gas pressure shocks and a limited-slip differential. The Premium Package 1 ($1600) adds a theft alarm; dynamic stability control with traction control; a limited-slip rear differential; Advanced Keyless Entry (a credit-card sized key fob that you keep in your pocket; there's no actual key for the ignition); and xenon high-intensity headlights. The Premium Package 2 ($1250) is the same as Package 1 minus the limited-slip differential.
The appearance package ($1145) dresses the exterior in sporty duds including a front air dam, side skirts and rear under skirt. And the Interior Trim Package ($515) brightens up an already handsome cabin with brushed aluminum trim pieces on the dash and door switch panels, and a handsome leather-and-aluminum gearshift knob. Also available: a cargo net, door edge guards, all-weather mats, chrome fuel filler door, splash guards, rear spoiler, Sirius satellite radio, an in-dash 6CD/MP3 changer, and wheel locks.
Available with the soft-top only are the Special Edition manual ($26,590), which comes with Grand Touring equipment plus Premium Package 1; and Special Edition automatic ($27,340) with Grand Touring equipment plus Premium Package 2.
All MX-5s benefit from a comprehensive 3 year/36,000 mile warranty, a five year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and a five-year/unlimited mileage corrosion warranty. And M.