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2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata Preview

2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2008


Critical Knowledge:
  • Complete exterior facelift
  • Several interior improvements
  • Increased engine redline
  • Upgraded gearbox
  • Re-engineered suspension
  • New wheel designs
Introduction
The world was introduced to the Mazda MX-5 Miata in the late 1980s. The compact 2-seat convertible was a modern reincarnation of a classic British roadster-lightweight, nimble and fun-to-drive. With a manually-operated soft top, the MX-5 Miata could be opened to the sky in seconds. Although the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine under the hood didn't offer excessive power, a short-throw 5-speed manual transmission, sport-tuned suspension, and a willing chassis made it popular among the enthusiasts who quickly embraced it. Now in its third generation (last redesigned for 2006) and approaching its 20th birthday, the Miata has added both weight and amenities (including an available hardtop convertible roof), but improvements over the years have secured its popularity within its segment. Mazda has introduced a facelifted and revised model for 2009 that is expected to arrive in U.S. showrooms mid-year.

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Design
Significantly revised for 2009, the Mazda MX-5 Miata features updated exterior styling which includes a new front fascia, restyled headlights and fog lamps, redesigned side sills, and a revised rear bumper with freshened taillights. The grille now bears closer family resemblance to the Mazda five-point grille found on the other models within the lineup. The redesigned front end not only changes the styling of the roadster, but it improves aerodynamics for better fuel economy and handling, Mazda says. The rear bumper mirrors the changes, as it is now wider with a more aggressive flair to add a sporty look and further improve aerodynamics. New wheel designs, a new Beige roof color, and two new paint hues-Competition Yellow and Liquid Silver Metallic-round out the changes for 2009.

The interior of the 2009 Mazda Miata has been enhanced with dark silver decorative surfaces on the instrument panel which have been upgraded for a higher-quality look. New graphics surround the gauges, and the climate control dials have been accented with silver trim rings. The interior door panels have also been redesigned to deliver more leg space to the two passengers while the arm rests and center console have been upgraded with softer padding. Seats are improved in all models, and certain versions of the 2009 MX-5 will also be available with Recaro seats upholstered in leather and perforated Alcantara. Dune Beige and Havana Brown Leather are new interior colors for 2009.


Model Lineup
The 2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata is available in four trim levels for 2009: SV, Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. The SV is the least expensive Miata, including a 5-speed manual transmission, 16-inch wheels, power windows and mirrors, and a CD player. For 2009, an auxiliary input jack is standard, too. The Miata Sport adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel and air conditioning. Touring models include fog lights; cruise control; remote keyless entry; CD changer; audio and cruise control buttons on the steering wheel; 6-speed manual transmission with a leather-wrapped shift knob, and larger 17-inch wheels. An auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink, trip computer and premium interior finishes are now standard on the Touring for 2009.

The MX-5 Miata Grand Touring model has leather seats, Bose audio system, and a cloth convertible top. For 2009, this model has been upgraded with 5-way adjustable seat heaters, automatic climate control, and a leather-wrapped handbrake handle. A Premium package for the Grand Touring model includes Mazda's Advanced Keyless Entry and Ignition system, dynamic stability control, anti-theft alarm, and HID headlights. This year, the Premium package also includes Bluetooth hands-free calling and Sirius satellite radio.

Mazda sells the MX-5 Miata with a manual vinyl convertible top, manual cloth convertible top, or a power retractable hardtop. The manual vinyl and cloth convertible tops can be lowered or raised from the driver's seat, without getting out of the car. The vinyl top is available on SV, Sport and Touring models, and comes only in Black. The cloth top is exclusive to the Grand Touring model, in Black and new-for-2009 Beige. The power retractable hardtop lowers or raises in 12 seconds, is painted body color, and is available on Touring and Grand Touring models.
Hardware
The standard 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine in the Mazda Miata has been improved for 2009, the company says. The engine's redline has been bumped-up another 500 rpm through the use of a forged crankshaft, floating pistons, and newly designed valve springs. While the horsepower rating is up just one to 167 (peaking at slightly higher rpm) and torque remains the same at 140 lb.-ft (with 90 percent of it available from 2500 rpm to redline), the higher engine limit allows the driver to enjoy the full potential of the powerplant's performance. The exhaust system has been further refined to deliver an even sportier exhaust note. The available 6-speed manual transmission has also undergone improvements as the synchronizers in several gears have been carbon coated and their diameters increased. Both lend to smoother shifts at the engine's higher redline, the automaker states, and a higher 6th-gear ratio produces better fuel economy combined with lower rpm highway cruising.

For 2009, Mazda also tweaked the available traction and stability control system so that it's less intrusive during spirited driving. Furthermore, the front suspension was reconfigured with new pivots for the ball joints to reduce the height of the roll center. As a result, the car's response to steering inputs feels more natural and linear, Mazda says. The changes also are claimed to improve the Miata's ride. The Miata is available with 16-inch and 17-inch wheels. Both have been restyled for the new model year.

Notably, Mazda has added a new Induction Sound Enhancer (ISE) to Miatas equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission. The ISE delivers natural induction sound to a location just ahead of the windshield, enhancing the MX-5's classic sports car sound at more comfortable volumes, the automaker says.

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