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2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Overview
The Mazda MX-5 Miata 2-seat roadster, which receives some minor updating for 2013, continues to offer an affordable, sporty driving experience that helps put it in a class almost by itself. While there are plenty of pricier, faster and better-equipped roadsters available today, the MX-5 Miata demonstrates that a car doesn't have to be super-expensive to be fun. Even though it's deep into its current generation, the MX-5 Miata routinely ranks near the top of the sports car class and still draws raves from critics for its ideal balance, precise handling, nimble ride and peppy performance. Car and Driver, for instance, recently named the 2013 Miata to its 10 Best Cars list for the eighth year in a row, and Autobytel recently named the Miata a Top 10 Sports Car.
Although observers expect an all-new MX-5 Miata in 2014, Mazda delivers an updated version for 2013, with a new, larger 5-point front mesh grille, as well as a new chin spoiler and updated front foglight design. The automaker also adds a new Dolphin Gray Mica exterior color, which replaces Metropolitan Gray Mica. In addition, Mazda replaces the outgoing mid-level Touring trim with a new Club trim, which comes with an upgraded sport-tuned suspension and a number of unique exterior features that give it a sportier appearance.
The entry-level Sport trim comes standard with a black Z-fold vinyl soft top, while the new Club trim gets a black Z-fold cloth soft top. The top-of-the-line Grand Touring trim also receives a cloth soft top in either black or Spicy Mocha, designed to match the interior color. In addition, owners can add a power-retractable hard top on the Club and Grand Touring trims. At the touch of a button, it opens or closes in 12 seconds.
Halogen headlights and foglights now come standard on all trims, although owners can add optional HID headlights to the Grand Touring trim. Power side mirrors, a glass rear window and chrome-tipped dual exhaust pipes are among the MX-5 Miata's other standard exterior features. In addition, all trims receive a new "pedestrian friendly" hood for 2013, which features redesigned hinges at the rear of the hood, allowing it to raise and shift back in the event of a collision with a pedestrian to reduce injuries.
The new Club trim displays a number of unique exterior features, including a black front air dam, a rear diffuser, black side mirrors, lower side graphics and 17-inch alloy wheels with gunmetal finish. The Sport trim rides on 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, while the Grand Touring gets 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
Power for all 2013 MX-5 Miata trims continues to come from a 2.0-liter engine, which produces 167 hp at 7,000 rpm and 140 lb-ft of torque. For the Sport trim, the engine links to a standard 5-speed manual transmission with overdrive and a short-throw shifter. The Club and Grand Touring trims get a 6-speed manual shifter, which comes standard. For all trims, owners can opt for an available 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for manual gear shifting. However, the automatic shaves off a few ponies, dropping horsepower to 158 at 6,700 rpm. Mileage checks in at 22/28 mpg with the 5-speed manual and 21/28 with both 6-speed transmissions. The engine drives the Miata through the rear wheels, providing a true sports-car experience.
Although some reviewers match the MX-5 Miata up against bigger, badder sport-oriented cruisers like the Ford Mustang, the Chevy Camaro, the Dodge Challenger and the Nissan 370Z, as well as the more comparably sized MINI Cooper, its most direct competitor is the new 4-passenger, rear-wheel-drive Subaru BRZ. Most testers agree the the BRZ delivers a little more pop and offers more interior space than the Miata, but they also agree that the Miata nevertheless provides a smooth, agile ride that's perfect for cruising around town with the top down. Acceleration remains good but not overly impressive, but the Miata glides over the road and handles tight corners with ease. Shifts with the manual transmission are quick and precise, and the well-tuned suspension keeps road harshness to a minimum. Add in good gas mileage for the class, and the Miata excels performance-wise on all fronts.
However, some say the MX-5 Miata wasn't designed for long-distance trips, due to its tight cabin. Hip room and headroom remain tight in the front seats, and the trunk offers a miniscule 5.3 cubic feet of storage space. Similarly, passengers will find few storage spaces inside the cabin. This makes it tricky to pack for long trips. In addition, some testers note that visibility out the back is limited with the top up.
Most agree that the MX-5 Miata comes relatively well-equipped for its size. All trims get standard air conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a padded center console and power windows and door locks. Cloth upholstery comes standard on the Sport trim, while the Club and Grand Touring trims receive black cloth seats with red stitching. The driver's seat on all trims features 6-way adjustment, while the passenger seat adjusts 4 ways. The Club trim adds remote keyless entry, a leather-wrapped shift knob and a trip computer, while the Grand Touring also includes leather upholstery, heated seats, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and a leather-wrapped parking brake.
The Sport and Club trims come equipped with a 6-speaker AM/FM audio system with a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary input jack. The Grand Touring upgrades to a 7-speaker Bose audio system. Bluetooth and a keyless start system are among the options for the Grand Touring, while owners can add SiriusXM satellite radio and a 6-CD changer at all trim levels. Standard safety features include front airbags, side-impact airbags, Dynamic Stability Control, traction control and antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist.
by R. Feeman
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