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Car Review: 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT

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Hot summer days demand drop-top cars to truly enjoy this time of year in the Midwest, and the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata answered the call for us. We drove and drove the MX-5, soaking up everything this car and the summer breeze had to offer, and never left the wheel disappointed. After a week of driving, it’s no wonder to us that the MX-5 is still by far the best-selling two-seat roadster in the world.

EXTERIOR

The MX-5 Miata was developed primarily for the North American market, and throughout the vehicle’s history, the region has come through to remain dominant in global sales. Available with two distinctive and easy-to-operate head wraps, the 2014 MX-5 Miata comes standard with a Z-fold design soft-top or an industry-leading Power Retractable Hard Top (PRHT) as tested. The soft top, available on all trim levels, continues to set the industry standard with its simplicity and ease of use. With a central latch handle, the top requires only a simple hand motion to fold and stow behind the seats. The top itself descends into a cleverly designed storage well, thus leaving the 5.3 cubic feet of cargo space completely untouched.

An available option on Club and Grand Touring trims only, the PRHT is stored in the same manner as the soft top, again not affecting storage space. Designed to perform in any climate, PRHT models outsell soft-top models by a 4:1 ratio worldwide. Using a single-button operation, the PRHT offers one of the fastest power-operated open-and-close cycles for a hard top in North America at an efficiently expedient 12 seconds.

The true red paint coupled with the shiny black hard top looked amazing and really popped with the dark gunmetal 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 205/45R17 street-sticky Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires.

INTERIOR

We went into our testing of the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT knowing that it’s a very small car and the cabin space is tight. What Mazda does with that space, however, is next to miraculous, as they turn such a small area into a vibrant cockpit. An issue for some could be entering and exiting the MX-5, as it can be challenging. The Club package bolsters the interior with a body color-matching decoration panel featuring trim-specific graphics. Red contrast stitching is featured on the black cloth seats. In Sport models, black upholstery with black stitching is standard, while leather seats are standard in Grand Touring models in either black or spicy mocha. Sport and Grand Touring models have a dark gray decoration panel. Our test model boasted a tilt leather steering wheel, power door lock and windows, rear center console storage, mesh aero board and remote keyless entry system.

When the top comes down, you all of sudden feel like space was just created and the sky opens up. In a car like the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT, it’s a totally different experience with the top down.

PERFORMANCE

At the heart of the 2014 MX-5 remains the highly-responsive MZR 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine with an output of 167 horsepower at 7,000 rpm with 140 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. Automatic-equipped models feature the same torque output but produce 158 horsepower at 6,700 rpm. The sophisticated, sturdy engine is light and compact, offering a strong performance and unmatched responsiveness for its nearly 50:50 weight distribution of the already lean roadster. With a 7,200-rpm redline (6,700 rpm in automatics), the flexible engine delivers driving exhilaration throughout the rev range. Reacting to driving commands with lightning-quick reflexes and progressive power delivery are linear keys to the MX-5’s stellar driving controls. A thrilling engine growl adds to the already intoxicating joy of the MX-5’s handling capabilities.

The lightweight plastic composite intake manifold itself has been designed to transmit certain frequencies to match the original sports car tone while suppressing less ideal sounds. The 2014 MX-5 models with six-speed manual transmissions are equipped with an Induction Sound Enhancer (ISE). Consisting of a series of tuned pipes and a passive resonance membrane, the ISE delivers the engine’s natural induction sound to the cowl, just ahead of the windshield, so more attractive engine sounds can be heard at a satisfying volume without resorting to simply being loud, obtrusive noise.

The MZR 2.0-liter engine is mounted front mid-ship for precise handling and balance, utilizing an aluminum block and head for decreased weight and increased structural rigidity, which ultimately enhanced performance and refinement. Chain-driven double-headed camshafts and 16 valves are used for improved revving and flexibility. Variable intake valve timing betters low-end torque and high-end power. Additional engine features include a forged steel crankshaft, forged steel connecting rods with floating wrist pins, revised pistons with stronger wrist pin bosses, stiffer valve springs and an engine oil cooler. The thrilling engine growl adds to the already intoxicating joy of the MX-5’s handling capabilities!

The front double wishbone suspension delivers a dynamic drive that impresses while both eating up bumps in the road and tackling corners with ease. Fuel efficiency is respectable but not stellar, coming in at 21mpg in the city and 28mpg in highway driving.

OVERVIEW

The MX-5 Miata is as uncomplicated and pure as a sports car can get. Since the two-seater entered the marketplace more than 20 years ago, the MX-5 has defied the convention that sports cars are only for those with very high incomes. Could the MX-5 be the one sports car that can truly be attained by the working American? At a sticker price as tested of $29,460, the answer is clear.

The looks of the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT are unmistakable and distinctive on the road, but also out shines much more expensive options for car buyers. Basically, this car is hot and rivals much more pricey convertibles.

  

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