25th Anniversary Mazda MX-5

By Frank S. Washington
NNPA Columnist

DETROIT (NNPA) – The Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT roadster is a mix of modern technology and straightforward old school. PRHT stands for power retractable hard top. On the MX-5 it takes 12 seconds for the top to fold back into the tonneau cover between the driver and the trunk.

It is semi-automatic: release the latch in the middle of the windshield frame, push a button and the top folds back. To raise it is the same thing. Push a button it unfolds into position automatically and latch it to lock it.

By definition, sports cars are low volume vehicles. Still, the MX-5 has been wildly successful since Mazda brought it to market 25 years ago. The company says more than 940,000 have been sold worldwide, making it the best-selling two-seat roadster in the world.

For reasons that escape just about everybody, Mazda changed its name from the Miata to the MX-5, but enthusiasts would not accept the switch. Mazda had to tack on Miata at the end of MX-5. We have to force ourselves to write MX-5 rather than Miata, which is what we call it. The car is so popular that a 25th anniversary edition was introduced and sold out in less than 10 minutes. When it was first introduced, the car was a throwback to the mostly British roadsters of the 1950s and ’60s: small, great weight to power ratio and maneuverable.

The MX-5 was powered by a 2.0-liter aluminum block four-cylinder engine that made 167 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. The engine was placed as far back in the bay as possible so that the most weight would be between the front and rear wheels. This gave the car excellent balance and stability. Though it was calm during our week-long test drive, the MX-5 was never was out of kilter. We never felt any twist between the engine, the transmission or the differential.

Our test car was also quick – very quick. The MX-5 scooted in and out of traffic, it stopped on a dime and it was pretty quick off the dime, too. To maximize weight savings the MX-5 had an aluminum hood, trunk lid, control bars, rear uprights and rear calipers. We had the top of the line Grand Touring trim. It featured 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, mocha interior, leather trimmed seats that were heated with five settings, a seven-speaker premium surround sound audio system, an in dash six disc CD player, leatherette door trim and leather wrapped parking brake and matching shift knob.

The car also had Bilstein shocks, a limited slip differential and a sport-tuned suspension. It had a smart key, satellite radio and Bluetooth. Still, our test vehicle weighed a scant 2,619 pounds. And it will shed more than 200 pounds when the 2016 version of the roadster goes on sale this summer. However, no announcement has been made about when we’ll see the new Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT.

Thus, this model may remain for the rest of the year. At $32,935, our hardtop Mazda roadster was an awful lot of fun for not a whole lot of money.

Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.


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