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2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring Hardtop Convertible Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Featured, Mazda, Test Drives

For more than 20 years, the MX-5 Miata has offered sports car enthusiasts a pure, simple, fun-focused roadster at an attainable price.  Sticking to that simple formula has made the MX-5 the most popular two-seat convertible sports car in the world with more than 850,000 sold.

Substantially refreshed in 2009, the 2010 MX-5 receives minor updates such as a chrome strip on the door handles, and chrome bezels in the headlight clusters. The easy-to-lower-and-raise soft-top of the original Miata, and the 2010 model continues to set the industry standard.  Unlike competitors’ models, the top can be lowered or raised with one hand, from inside the car, and requires no bulky or complicated snaps or external latches.  The Z-fold design uses a simple, central latch handle that requires only a simple wrist movement to stow.

Introduced in 2007, the Power Retractable Hard Top model remains available in two trim levels-Touring or Grand Touring.  This addition to the MX-5 lineup builds on the soft-top two-seaters’ zest for life by enhancing year-round comfort and security.  Rather than consuming interior or trunk space, the folded roof descends into the same storage well behind the seats where the soft top would have stowed.  Opening and closing cycles last only about 12-seconds, making this the fastest power-operated retractable hard top on the market.  It work silently and helps with the vehicles ability to give you that sun in your face and wind in your hair exciting driving experience.

The heart of the MX-5 remains a highly-responsive MZR-series 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine making 167hp at 7,000rpm and 140lb.ft.of torque at 5,000rpm for driving exhilaration throughout the rev range.  The all-aluminum MZR is light and compact, and mounted front mid-ship for ideal handling balance.  It features chain-driven DOHC, a lightweight flywheel, variable intake valve timing, electronically controlled port fuel injection, a forged steel crankcase, forged steel connection rods with floating pins, revised pistons with strong wrist pins, stiffer valve springs an engine oil cooler, and coil-on-plug ignition.  It quickly and smoothly revs to its 7,200rpm redline and reacts to your commands with lightning-quick reflexes, and offers progressive power delivery.

This potent engine is mated to a standard close-ratio five-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed manual, that I tested, with gear ratios close-stacked to enhance the joy of driving.  A Sport A/T automatic transmission dimensions to the MX-5’s personality.  Six ratios are provides to improve acceleration, driving refinement and freeway comfort.  Paddles mounted behind the steering wheel command upshifts while buttons positioned on the spokes are used for downshift.  Coordinating engine torque with the shift sequence results in smooth, seamless, and fast gear changes.  The Sport A/T-equipped car is a joy to drive, with gear ratios perfectly matched to the engine’s horsepower and torque output.  While the automatic is fun and easy, I really enjoyed the close-ratio 6-speed manual with its ability to quickly grab each gear, up or down, for real ‘hands-on’ driving excitement when attacking steep, curving roads.

The ability to successfully tackle steep curving roads is the race-car bred, sport-tuned, fully independent suspension that is so well balanced, quick, and nimble, reacting to your inputs from the sporty, tilting, 3-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The monocoque unibody has a backbone frame construction with front and rear suspension subframes that increase stiffness for less noise, vibration and hardness with hardly any cowl shake when traveling over poorly paved roads.

The unique front suspension features double-wishbones with forged aluminum control arms, coil springs, Bilstein monotube shocks, in the sport package, and a thick stabilizer bar.  The rear multi-link setup features tubular control arms with aluminum knuckles, Bilstein monotube shocks, in the sport package, coil springs and a stabilizer bar. With the addition of a strut tower brace up front, the car’s reaction to your inputs using the standard power-assisted hydraulic rack & pining steering system is lightning fast.  Just like a race car, the car moves left or right at the slightest touch of the wheel, enhancing that sports car feel that all enthusiasts covert.

Quickly slowing the car down from speed are 4-wheel, power-assisted steel disc brakes. Up front are 11.4in. vented discs clamped with single-piston calipers while the rear features 11in. solid discs clamped with single-piston calipers in aluminum housing. Enhancing your control and braking power are standard ABS and Electronic Brake Force Distribution, EBD).

The standard MX-5 rides on 16.5in. aluminum wheels and 16in. all-season radial tires while the Grand Touring model that I tested rides on 17.6.5in. aluminum alloy wheels wrapped with high-performance Bridgestone 205/45R17in. Potenza tires for excellent grip and traction.  Also adding to traction is the standard limited slip differential and thicker rear stabilizer bar in the Grand Touring package that I tested.

Whether it’s driven on a sunny day or thrust through the corners on a race track, the MX-5 legendary performance will put a smile on your face.  It power is ample, its nimbleness is astounding and its looks timeless, yet fresh and new.

Form follows function beautifully with the MX-5’s fun and modern exterior design that retains the iconic feel of the earlier generation XM-5 Miatas while simultaneously moving it into the future.  The body is shaped to make the cockpit the widest portion of the car, delivering a roomier, safe design that still expresses the compact look of a lightweight sports car.  Side surfacing is rounded, yet taut-like the skin over a muscled body.  Head and tail lamps are mounted inboard to reinforce the sense of compactness that is so central to the car’s design philosophy.  Joining this modern shape are tail lamps and rearview mirrors that harkens back to the elliptical shape of the first-generation MX-5 Miata and a silhouette that could be mistaken for nothing else.

The front of the MX-5 features an aggressive face with a five-point grille and highly-sculpted triangular front fog lamp bezels.  The design is functional as well.  The bulge below the front fog lamps, the wide air deflectors ahead of the front tires, the lower side sills, the rounded lower corners of the rear bumper and even the taillights all contribute to a low coefficient of drag.  Dual round exhaust tips let drivers behind know that the new MX-5 is powerful yet well mannered.

The interior design theme balances comfortable snugness below shoulder level with openness above, to give the impression of riding in open air.  I am 6ft.3in. and found that to be true with plenty of legroom and 1in. of headroom available with the top up.

The T-shaped instrument panel is consistent with Mazda design-DNA while the center console accentuates the backbone of the car.  Strong horizontal and vertical theme lines connote rigidity and sports car capability.  The black center stack is as simple and functional as possible.  The arched hood over the easy-to-see, aluminum bezel instrument cluster and four circular vents are part of the MX-5’s cabin identity.  All buttons, dials and switches are easy to reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime driving pleasure.

Wind in the hair is one thing, but nobody enjoys cockpit turbulence and buffeting, especially on long drives.  Small corner windows block drafts between the windshield pillars and door mirrors into the cockpit. An aero board located between the seat back hoops is tall and perforated to slow down reverse-flow air that rushes into the cockpit.

The quick acceleration and nimble handling of the MX-5 is due to its light weight as weight slows acceleration, lengthens braking distances, dulls handling and cripples fuel economy.  Weight saving measures in the MX-5 include the use of an aluminum hood and trunk lid while the unibody makes widespread use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel, boosting body strength.  The 2.0 liter engine has an exhaust manifold made of lightweight tubular steel instead of cast iron, and the intake manifold and cam cover are made from lightweight composite plastic.  My top-of-the-line Grand Touring Premium Package MX-5 Miata weighs only 2,511lbs. yet is holds the road like a more heavier sports car.

Standard equipment not mentioned above includes dual power-remote door mirrors, automatic AC, power windows with one-touch down, power door locks, remote keyless entry, heated/leather trimmed sport bucket seats, leather shift knob, leather trimmed hand brake, auto dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, dual cupholders under a sliding door on the center console, silver seat back bar trim, steering wheel mounted cruise control and audio buttons, AM-FM/MP3/6-dics CD with Bose 7-speaker premium audio system, auxiliary audio input jack, trip computer, rear center console storage, glove box, lighted trunk, driver seat height adjustment, dual map lamps, thick pile-cut carpeting and Miata signature floor mats.  My top-of-the-line Grand Touring with Premium Package MX-5 came with these options: sport-tuned suspension, Bilstein shocks, anti-theft alarm, Mazda Advanced keyless entry system, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, Xenon headlamps, disc brakes with Traction Control, Limited Slip Differential and SIRIUS satellite radio.

Standard safety features include 24-hour roadside assistance, tire pressure monitoring system, dual front airbags with passenger-side deactivation, side impact airbags and door beams, front/rear crumple zones, vehicle stability control, and 3-point safety belts with pretensioners/load limiters.

You can spend much more money on a more powerful, hardtop convertible roadster but you will not come close to the fun and excitement that the new 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata hardtop convertible brings to the fore-an inexpensive, fun and easy-to-drive 2-seat roadster that is solidly planted on the freeway at high speeds and can tackle any curving roads that you my encounter.



Price: Base Sport – $22,960 Base Grand Touring Hardtop Convertible – $28,400 As-Tested – $30,550
Type: Compact Convertible
Where Built: Japan
EPA Class: Two Seaters


Length: 157.3 in.
Width: 67.7 in.
Height: 49.4 in.
Wheel Base: 91.7 in.
Ground Clearance: 4.6 in.
Curb Weight: 2593 lbs.
Gross Weight: 3122 lbs.

Front Head Room: 37 in.
Front Hip Room: 50.6 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 53.2 in.
Front Leg Room: 43.1 in.
Luggage Capacity: 5.3 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 5 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 2

Performance Data

Engine Number of Cylinders: 4
Engine Size: 2 liters
Engine Type: Inline 4
Horsepower: 167 hp
Max Horsepower: 7000 rpm
Torque: 140 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 5000 rpm
Drive Type: RWD
Turning Circle: 30.8 ft.
0-60mph: 6.8 seconds

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 12.7 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Manual: 21 mpg / 28 mpg / 24 mpg
Range in Miles:
Manual: 266.7 mi. / 355.6 mi. / 304.8 mi.


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