By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 8.1
2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the Mazda MX-5 Miata, and though it has matured over the years to offer features like a retractable hardtop, its simple formula continues to work its magic. The Miata's potion for emotion goes like this: Start with a 2-seat roadster body that boasts the best handling this side of a go kart, add a zippy engine and rear-wheel drive, give it an attainable price, then let it set you free. Tradeoffs for its grin-inducing manners include limited cargo space and an absence of the latest technology as this 3rd-generation Miata nears the end of its lifecycle. Those factors may deter casual commuters, but driving purists will relish what remains the most thrilling roadster for the money.
If you desire a 2-seat roadster with the charm of an old British MG, plus the reliability and modern conveniences of, well, a Mazda, look no further than the 2015 Miata. That this convertible starts under $25,000 only adds to its appeal.
The Miata's small exterior size hides no interior lies: Space is sparse for cargo and people. Convertible versions of the Volkswagen Beetle, Ford Mustang and Mini Cooper offer two rear seats that at least hold groceries. Miata enthusiasts desiring fresh a design and features may want to wait for the coming all-new model.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata is marking its milestone with an exclusive 25th-anniversary edition, of which only 100 will be made. Base Sport models now get a cloth roof instead of vinyl. Otherwise the rest of the lineup carries over unchanged until the all-new, 4th-generation Miata arrives.
Driving Impressions The oft-used comparison is true: The 2015 Mazda Miata indeed feels like a go kart for adults. That means razor-sharp handling, a peppy but not overpowering 4-cylinder engine, and the...... rear-drive setup of a traditional sports car. Just try not to grin while throwing the Miata around a corner. Then there's that manual transmission. Available as a 5- or 6-speed, it is among the best in the business, regardless of price. Yes, an automatic is available, but real thrills in a Miata involve three pedals and flicks of its short-throw shifter. Downsides of the Miata's performance-mindedness include a stiff suspension and a buzzy cabin that even hardtop models can't entirely tame. This roadster may not be your first choice for a cross-country trek, but on a winding road or for an open-air cruise down the coast, few cars stir the soul like a Mazda Miata.
POWER RETRACTABLE HARD TOP
In addition to offering better insulation and security than a fabric roof, Miatas with the power-operated hardtop are essentially two cars in one: a sleek coupe with the roof up, or a sun-ready convertible with it down.
CALL IT THE AUTOMOTIVE APPENDAGE
Spend time in a Miata, and it will soon feel like an extension of your very self. Few cars have this gift, and those that do often begin with the word "Porsche." For much less money, Mazda's little roadster has the uncanny ability to be your automotive appendage.
The Miata's cockpit offers seating for two and just a modicum of storage space. Optimists will refer to it as snug, but there's no denying that it can be tight for larger occupants. But those who fit – and even the taller among us can – will be rewarded with supportive seats eager to embrace you as memories are made. At 5.3 cubic feet, trunk space is also at a premium, but large enough to hold several bags of groceries. Dials and buttons for audio and climate functions are easy to see, reach and use. The MX-5 lacks features like a navigation system and USB input.Exterior
As a modern take on a classic roadster shape, the 2015 MX-5 Miata has a long (for its size) hood, a round and tidy rear, and a squat stance. Among the biggest differentiators between models is in regard to the roof. Standard models have a cloth soft-top you must fold and unfold manually, while the Power Retractable Hard Top has just what its name entails. Both fold snugly into the rear deck without affecting trunk space. On hardtop models, the roof is black in Club models (which can provide a nice contrast) or the same color as the body on Grand Touring trims.
Spend the least on a base 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata Sport and you'll get a cloth soft top with a glass rear window, 16-inch wheels, cloth seats, and basic creature comforts like air conditioning, power windows and a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD player with auxiliary input. Stepping up to the Club trim brings features such as cruise control, keyless entry and 17-inch wheels. Top-line Grand Touring models add a Bose premium audio system and heated leather seats. Safety features include front and side airbags, and stability and traction control. Exclusive 25th-anniversary models include almond leather seats, satin chrome accents, and a custom Tourneau watch.
Most upgrades for the 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata, such as larger wheels, leather interior and automatic climate control, come by climbing trim levels. Other amenities are bundled into packages, including Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, satellite radio, bright xenon headlights, and an anti-theft alarm. An appearance package adds a front air dam and rear underskirt, while the suspension package includes a sport-tuned suspension, Bilstein shock absorbers and limited-slip differential (both of those packages are included on Club models). Included in Grand Touring trim and optional on others is an in-dash 6-disc CD changer.
The 2015 MX-5 Miata features just one engine choice: a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes 167 horsepower with a manual transmission and slightly less (158) with an automatic. This power isn't tremendous, but it doesn't need to be. Considering the MX-5 only weighs around 2,500 pounds, this peppy engine is eager to make the Miata squirt around traffic and cruise comfortably at highway speeds. We've already waxed poetic about the superb manual transmission, but if you do opt for the 6-speed automatic, know that it does a fine job overall. Fuel economy tops out at 28 mpg, which may seem low for such a small and light car. We expect the forthcoming next-gen Miata to surpass that number with a new engine.
167 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm (manual)
158 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm (automatic)
140 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 mpg (5-speed manual), 21/28 mpg (6-speed manual), 21/28 mpg (automatic)
The 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $24,765 for a base Sport model. Models with the power-operated retractable hardtop begin at $29,460. If you're lucky enough to be one of the 100 people to secure the 25th-anniversary edition, plan on spending $33,000. Otherwise, a loaded Grand Touring model with the power hardtop and automatic transmission peaks around $34,000. The Miata faces few competitors in its price range, and none with rear-wheel drive. The Mini Convertible and Roadster both start over $26,000, and the VW Beetle Convertible is in the same neighborhood. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new convertibles. In terms of resale value, the Miata's is above average and in line with those of the Mini droptops.
By LTCUSAF on Thursday, October 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,600overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "More smiles per mile."
Cons: "I can't drive it 24/7; I have to sleep some time."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've driven MGs, Alfas, Fiats. I waited a long time to find a used MX-5 in good condition. Found a 2013 Grand Touring with less than 1000 miles on it. I let the first owner eat about $7000 in depreciation. The car even smells new. I also fly little airplanes; this car is even more fun than that cause I can do it any day I want, regardless of the weather. Buy one, it's fantastic for two empty nesters and there is no room for grandchildren."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Sporty Grandma on Monday, September 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Gas mileage, fun to drive"
Cons: "Only for 2 people"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This was my "fun" car and I truly enjoy driving it. It looks classy and I have never had any mechanical problems with it. Every time I drive it someone comments on the beauty of the car."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By JKL on Wednesday, September 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,440overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Pros: Corners like on rails. Great acceleration for a small car Hardtop goes up and down in less than 8 seconds Cons: The front fender skirt sits really low and can get scratch up easily at parking spaces blocks or curbs. It's hard to clean the space behind the seats with the top up and near impossible with top down."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful