Power hardtop puts Mazda MX-5 in a new light


The latest Mazda MX-5 generation has grown away from the no-frills approach of the original Miata. The new model is more posh and sophisticated.


No matter how much they try, it seems no other automaker can unlock the secret behind Mazda's sweet little MX-5 roadster. But it's really quite simple.


Since the drop-top first hit our streets in 1989 (as the Miata), Mazda has stuck to a tried and true formula. Through three generations, the two-seater has remained a light, uncomplicated, usable and enjoyably chuckableî convertible at a great price.


So, you'd think after reworking the MX-5 from the ground up last year the wizards of Hiroshima would have taken a well-earned rest.

Apparently not. The poster car for cheap and cheerful ragtopî gets all posh and sophisticated for 2007, with a new power retractable hardtop (PRHT). This $2,195 option is available on any MX-5, from the $29,095 base GX model to the $31,195 mid-range GS and on up to the $34,195 top-line GT version.

The tumbling tin topî retracts under a hard tonneau cover and, incredibly, it doesn't steal any trunk space. Way cool. Also new for 2007 is standard anti-lock brakes (ABS) on all three models.

Key to the design is low weight, which allows the PRHT to tip the scales at just 36 kg (79.4 lbs) more than the soft top model.

Release the central lock, hold the centre stack switch, and the roof tips and tumbles neatly out of sight in just 12 seconds.

It's somewhat of an engineering marvel that the roof design has no impact on the MX-5's trunk space, which remains at 150 litres (5.3 cu-ft). It's not exactly spacious, but still way ahead of the 56 litres (2.0 cu-ft) from the Saturn Sky/Pontiac Solstice twins when their soft tops are folded.

Aside from the new roof, the MX-5 PRHT's exterior is only subtly changed. The trunk lid sits 40 mm (1.6 inches) higher, the rear fenders are reshaped and the high-mount brake light is repositioned, with a new, white lens. A chrome trim package is standard, including bright door handles and polished trim on the headlamps and grille.

Throughout generations, the car has remained light, uncomplicated and usable.

The only notable change inside is the top's open and close buttons on top of the centre stack. Taller drivers might find the hardtop limits head room, but the solid roof is much more quiet and cold-climate friendly than the cloth top.

The sole powerplant remains the wonderfully revvy, 166 hp, 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, mated with a 5-speed manual transmission on the base GX.

The GS and GT get a 6-speed manual, with a 6-speed auto also available. Despite the extra heft of the hardtop, the PRHT retains all the road poise and athleticism of the soft top version.

It should be noted, though, that this latest MX-5 generation has grown away from the no-frills approach of the original Miata. As long as Mazda sticks close to its principles and avoids getting sucked into the overweight, gadget-laden vortex other roadsters now occupy, the MX-5 remains proof that ultimate power and price do not mean ultimate enjoyment. As it is, the MX-5 PRHT is the icing on an already charming cake.

Mazda MX-5 PRHT

  • Type: Compact 2-pass. roadster RWD

  • Price: $28,095–$34,195

  • Engine: 2.0-litre L4 DOHC

  • Horsepower: 166 @ 6700 rpm

  • Torque (lb-ft): 140 @ 5000 rpm

  • Highlights: Fast retracting top, quieter cabin, handling, no loss of trunk room.