Mazda MX-5
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Overall

The world’s best-selling sports car is on the cusp of a top-to-bottom overhaul; for now the current MX-5 Miata still has the power to captivate drivers, their passengers and onlookers . . . having zero competition helps.

Drivetrain

A 2.0-liter four-cylinder pours on the coals to the tune of 167 horsepower for five- and six-speed manual-transmission models; horsepower is reduced to 158 on six-speed automatic versions.

With each new sale, the MX-5 Miata adds to its 24-year total as the globe’s most popular sports car, with sales now approaching the one-million mark. The current edition is now in its final season and will be replaced by a completely new version for the 2015 model year that has been designed in conjunction with Fiat’s Alfa Romeo division. That makes the upcoming MX-5 related through corporate marriage to Chrysler, but don’t expect to find any in its showrooms. Once marketed in North America as the Miata and now with its alphanumeric MX-5 prefix tacked on, the roadster is at its best when negotiating snaky two-lane roads. The 167-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder powerplant is a gem, but owners will only get to enjoy reaching its lofty limits if they opt for either the base five-speed manual transmission or the optional six-speed manual. Selecting the extra-cost six-speed automatic with shift paddles cuts the maximum revs to 6,700 and lowers the engine’s power rating to 158. Either way, that doesn’t sound like much power for a sporty car, and it really isn’t. However, the Miata doesn’t weigh a lot, so it feels like more. Two roofs are available: a manually operated soft top secured by a central latch that can be opened or closed from inside the cockpit; and the optional Power Retractable Hard Top (PRHT) that’s offered on the Grand Touring model. It raises or lowers in about 12 seconds and stows in the same spot as the soft version. Also carried over are the Miata’s three trim levels. Base Sport versions are fairly basic, although you do get air conditioning and a decent audio system. Along with the six-speed gearbox, the Club adds keyless remote entry, cruise control, auto-dimming rearview mirror and unique 17-inch wheels. The Grand Touring gets climate control, heated leather seats and premium seven-speaker Bose-brand audio. A Premium Package on the back of the Grand Touring includes push-button start, Bluetooth networking (for hands-free cellular communications, for example) and satellite radio.

Base price (incl. destination): $24,500
Type: Two-door, rear-wheel-drive roadster
Engine (hp): 2.0-liter DOHC I4 (167, MT; 158, AT)
Layout: Front engine, rear-wheel-drive
Transmissions: Five-speed manual; six-speed manual (opt.); six-speed automatic (opt.)
MPG (city/hwy): 22/28 (5 MT)
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control
Weight (lb.): 2,450