Mazda adds a little magic to the Miata with a retractable hard top
Keither Turner, Sun, 20 May 2007 08:00:00 PDT
When the Mazda marketeers gathered around the brainstorming table some years ago, they conceived a catch phrase that today is associated with each and every Mazda model. But surely, they had to have been looking at only one vehicle to come up with the line.
Because nothing says "Zoom-Zoom" better than the tiny, roadster rocket that goes by the name of Miata. In fact, the tagline is so appropriate for the Miata that one only has to sit in the sportster's cockpit with hands gripping the wheel and eyes locked forward to find oneself muttering "Zoom-Zoom" under one's breath.
Since 1989, the Miata has been the quintessential roadster for the mainstream America market. For nearly two decades, the Miata's cute, sassy and stylish design has spoken volumes about the makeup of the driver behind the wheel. She (or he) is single, independent and ready to have fun at a moment's notice. She throws an overnight bag in the roadster's trunk, adds a pair of roller blades, tennis racquet and a beach towel and she's ready for fun. Nothing can keep this Miata mamma from having a good time.
Fast forward to 2007, where Mazda, a Ford subsidiary, is reinventing itself from the ground up and the Miata is no exception. After years of sporting a soft top convertible, the new MX-5 has added the amazing technology of a power retractable hard top that enhances the style and versatility of the MX-5. Following its soft top predecessor, the new hard top is quick and easy to open/close, with only a flip of a latch and the touch of a button standing between you and sunlight.
In fact, opening and closing of the retractable hard top last only 12 seconds, making it the fastest power-operated retractable hard top in the United States.
It's an amazingly simple, yet complex procedure that is the most fun to do when others are watching. The two-piece roof section folds like a clamshell, protecting and preparing the rear window for safe storage. Then a portion of the rear deck cover pops up to open a compartment just large enough to fit the descending roof, now folded, into the space where the soft top would have previously been stored.
With the introduction of the power retractable hard top, the MX-5 makes it perfectly possible to plan for a weekend getaway no matter what potential problem the weatherman predicts. Even in good weather, the reduction of engine and road noise provided by the hard top is a wonderful benefit. Rarely do you get the pleasure of open air driving combined with the comfort and security of a hard top in one vehicle.
One word of warning, if you are of the height-enhanced segment of human kind, say 6-foot-3 or taller, you are bound to feel a bit too cozy - if not downright scrunched -- under the hard top. Unless you are one who enjoys contortionist activities, you might want to earmark the MX-5 for top-down-only driving in order to save your precious neck muscles.
Like the soft-top version, the hard top includes a cute little wind deflector designed to block cockpit drafts. There's also a 1.3-inch-tall air guide that runs the full length of the deflector to reduce the flow of the back draft. This reduces the MX-5's noise level even with the top down.
The 2007 MX-5 is basically the 2006 version with a retractable hard top. That's a pretty good base to build on. The all-new '06 MX-5 was named as one of the "10 Best" by Car and Driver and was winner of the coveted Japan Car of the Year award. That's worthy praise from a highly competitive automotive nation.
Under the hood remains a very responsive four-cylinder, 2.0-liter, 166 horsepower engine with chain-driven double overhead camshafts, lightweight flywheel and variable intake valve timing, electronically controlled port fuel injections and coil-on-plug ignition, according to the manufacturer.
What this driver experienced was pure excitement produced by a 6-speed manual transmission and tight-shifting stick and clutch combination that loved to chirp the tires with even the slightest amount of pedal pressure. The double wishbone front suspension keeps the front wheels on track as the transmission pushes up to 166 horsepower to the real wheels.
The MX-5 comes in several trim levels. The 2007 Sport model is the basic model, offering the least expensive way to get into an MX-5, with five-speed manual transmission at a suggested retail price of $24,400. The Sport edition features a six-speed manual transmission and leather shift knob and 17-inch alloy sports wheels.
The Touring version has two choices: a six-speed manual transmission ($25,260) and six-speed sport automatic transmission at $26,360. The Grand Touring six-sped manual transmission starts at $26,520 while the automatic version adds $1,100 to the price. With the Grand Touring Premium Package, the MX-5 gets keyless entry and start system, and anti-theft alarm to keep those sticky-fingered sports car lovers at bay.
In addition to the fun and sporty styling of the third generation Miata, the MX-5 is a virtual gas sipper compared to many of today's roadsters, getting an EPA estimated 24 miles per city and 30 mpg on the highway of fuel economy. Final assembly for this Ford subsidiary sibling is Hiroshima, Japan.