$6,204 - $7,503

2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata was new.


Performance: 8.8

The 2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata is altogether fun to drive. While auto writers note that other vehicles are faster, most agree that speed isn't what the Miata is all about -- top notch sports handling is. In that respect, the Miata is an overwhelming success.

  • "Driving the Miata is an analog experience, and you'll find yourself wearing a smile because driving it is fun and rewarding, rather than fast and boring, or-as is the case with many sports cars -- so fast that approaching the limit invites the possibility of dark moments with bridge abutments." -- Car and Driver
  • "With the MX-5's potent driving dynamics, perfect power-to-weight ratio, engaging engine response, and short-throw shifter; this car is a delight to play with. " -- Motor Trend
  • "The lightweight roadster may not be big on horsepower, but its 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution, dynamic suspension and lightning-quick steering make it a blast to drive, while its excellent fuel economy makes it the perfect commuter car." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

While the Miata's no speed demon, test drivers find that its ample powertrain operates satisfyingly smoothly. Every 2009 MX-5 is equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 167 horsepower at 7,000 rpm with the manual transmission, and 140 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. Horsepower ratings decrease slightly with the optional automatic transmission. While the SV and Sport feature a five-speed manual transmission, the Touring, Grand Touring and Special Edition utilize a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is available for every trim except for the SV.

  • "Acceleration isn't exactly the Miata's forte, but it's sufficiently quick for daily driving -- we've timed a six-speed manual Miata at 7.5 seconds for the 0-60-mph dash.  ... The Miata's peppy four pulls willingly and revs freely. It's a delightful instrument to play, especially with a manual gearbox where snapping off rev-matching downshifts is a breeze." -- Edmunds
  • "On top of that, the 6-speed manual is smooth; short throws between gears and a small lever that fits comfortably in the palm." -- Chicago Tribune
  • "Acceleration is brisk from all speeds, with satisfying low-rpm response." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The MX-5's excellent fuel economy makes it a viable commuter car for those looking to leave their gas-thirsty SUVs at home." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

Test drivers are impressed with the MX-5's superb handling dynamics, which are both sporty and comfortable.

  • "The Mazda Miata is perhaps the only modern sports cars for which outright speed isn't a fundamental design directive. The marketplace is increasingly saturated with cars that are shockingly fast-a Toyota Camry V-6 whups the Miata in a quarter-mile battle. A V-6 Camry will not, however, give you a jones for meandering ribbons of tarmac or even feel like you're involved with anything more than a digital transportation device." -- Car and Driver
  • "Although tuned for a smoother ride than before, the Miata still changes direction with the immediacy of a roller skate and speaks to you clearly through the steering wheel and driver seat. With a lowered top and a twisting, scenic road stretching out before it, the 2008 Mazda Miata has few equals when it comes to sheer entertainment." -- Edmunds
  • "The base suspension is appropriately firm, but is not uncomfortable. The ride is choppy and borderline harsh with the less-compliant combination of the Suspension Package and 17-inch tires." -- Consumer Guide
  • "A standard four-wheel disc antilock braking system affords quick and controlled stops." -- Forbes

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