MX-5 Miata, the cute little car that sparked a roadster revival nearly two decades ago, is as close to the holy grail as some auto aficionados can get. Its perfectly-proportioned tight little bod is so gorgeous, it could out-heartthrob a Samba dancing Mario Lopez or runway strutting Eva Longoria. Call it temptation on wheels. Call it perfecto. But don't forget to call it Miata.
That's the message Mazda must have gotten as it attempted to attach alphanumeric-only designations to its Zoom Zoom cache of vehicles and tagged the rear-drive Miata with the MX-5 moniker. Look again. The "Miata" subtitle hasn't gone away.
Neither has Miata's ragtop, the original drop-top accouterment that brought it instant two-seater fame. But time marches on and so do tastes. To satisfy them, for 2007, Miata gets its first retractable hardtop roof giving autophiles a choice between a ragtop, a lift-on/lift-off hardtop add-on for the well-muscled in blustery climates, or the new, all-weather one-button marvel that anyone can operate in just 12 seconds. Think snug in wintertime; dry in a sudden rain storm.
In the spirit of an acronym-laden world, Mazda calls this newbie "PRHT" (for Power Retractable Hard Top), and manages to squeeze the roof panels and necessary hardware into the same trunk space for top-down storage that the folded soft-top takes. Some minor style adjustments in the vehicle's rear were required to make that possible without losing precious cargo area.
You'd probably expect a driving penalty for those extra mechanicals and weight. Mazda says no. In the size-does-matter spirit, the fold-up panels are of super light-weight, advanced high-strength composite materials barely three-quarters of an inch thick.
Driving agility and prowess remain a classic Miata feature, with body strengthening construction, and the presence of Mazda's responsive MZR-series engine. The 2.0-liter, 166-HP inline four gets fuel economy of 25 city/30 highway miles on premium fuel. Revving it into gear are a five-speed transmission (SV or Sport model), or six-speed manual or automatic (Touring or Grand Touring). Base pricing ranges from
$20,585 to $25,750.
Stormy Blue Mica and Highland Green Mica are new exterior colors, added for PRHT models, while no-nonsense, sports car cabin interior touched with "piano black" are shared with ragtops. A continuation of fun personified, Mazda's MX-5 Miata shows that going topless in a world of power hardtops, it's hard to top this.