Used 2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata Convertible
- Huge fun factor, precise steering and handling, low base price, choice of soft-top or retractable hardtop configurations, economical to operate.
- Still snug for bigger folks, lacks high-performance engine option, stability control only available on the top trim level.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Although not as stylish or powerful as General Motors' roadster twins, the 2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata is still unequaled when it comes to overall driving enjoyment and refinement.
Sadly, many people today treat driving like an afterthought, something that has to be done while talking on the phone or doing some other form of multitasking. Seemingly inspired by this show of apathy, carmakers have come up with a wealth of technologies to save distracted drivers from themselves, ranging from "smart" cruise controls to lane departure warning systems. However, there's at least one affordable convertible that remains true to motoring's pre-digital roots: the 2009 Mazda Miata.
Inspired by the small, nimble British roadsters of the 1960s, the Mazda Miata comes equipped with rear-wheel drive, sharp handling, an easy-to-drop top and lean and classic roadster proportions. The latest (third-generation) Miata has also upheld the car's reputation for above-average reliability, which is something that can't be said for those old Triumphs and MGs.
Customers who like the idea of combining open-air exhilaration with fixed-roof refinement had their wishes granted a few years ago when the Miata became available with a power-retractable hardtop. The "PRHT" might seem to run counter to the Miata's "less is more" approach, but its simple design adds just 70 additional pounds to the car's curb weight while transforming top-up motoring into a much more pleasant and secure experience.
Regardless of which version you lean toward, the 2009 Mazda Miata is a fantastic choice for an affordable roadster. There are few rivals. General Motors' twins, the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, are the only other games in town. These suavely styled siblings share an available turbocharged engine that blows away the Miata's prosaic naturally aspirated four-cylinder. However, the turbo doesn't come cheap, and we still feel that the Mazda is the superior car. Refined, balanced and eager, the 2009 MX-5 Miata is always a willing partner when one needs to unplug from the plugged-in world.
Trim levels & features
The 2009 Mazda Miata lineup consists of four trims: SV, Sport, Touring and Grand Touring.
Aimed at racing enthusiasts, the lightly equipped SV (available in soft-top form only) comes with a black vinyl convertible top, 16-inch alloy wheels, a six-speaker audio system with a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary input jack, a height-adjustable driver seat and power windows and mirrors. The Sport keeps to the same basic formula but adds air-conditioning and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Step up to the Touring and you'll get 17-inch alloy wheels, a strut tower brace, cruise control, power locks, keyless entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, HomeLink, a trip computer, a six-CD changer and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The Grand Touring trim adds a cloth convertible top (in black or parchment), automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated seats, a seven-speaker Bose audio system and silver interior accents. Retractable-hardtop (PRHT) models are offered in the top three trims and are otherwise identical in terms of equipment.
Options are grouped in numerous packages. Available on the Sport, the Convenience package provides most of the convenience features found on the Touring. Available on Touring and Grand Touring trims, the Suspension package features a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks and a limited-slip differential. The Grand Touring qualifies for the Premium package that adds stability control, keyless entry and ignition, xenon HID headlights, Bluetooth connectivity and satellite radio. Stand-alone options, depending on the trim, include an appearance package (which adds a front airdam and lower-body skirting), run-flat tires, satellite radio and a rear spoiler.
Performance & mpg
All Miatas come with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 167 horsepower (158 with the automatic transmission) and 140 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission drives the rear wheels on SV and Sport trims, while a six-speed manual is fitted to the Touring and Grand Touring trims. A six-speed automatic with paddle shifters is optional on all but the SV and the Sport PRHT.
Brutal acceleration isn't exactly the Miata's forte, but the MX-5 is still respectably quick -- we've timed a six-speed manual Miata at 7.5 seconds for the 0-60-mph dash. Mazda estimates fuel economy at 21 or 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway, depending on the transmission.
Antilock disc brakes and side airbags are standard; however, stability control is available as an option on the Grand Touring model only.
The Miata's peppy four pulls willingly and revs freely, but horsepower junkies will find its straight-line acceleration lacking. Nonetheless, the Miata's engine is a delightful instrument to play, especially with the manual gearbox, which makes snapping off rev-matching downshifts a breeze. Although tuned for a smoother ride than before, the Miata still changes direction with the immediacy of an NHL all-star 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 2009 Mazda Miata has no equal at this price point when it comes to sheer entertainment.
Even though the current Miata is larger than previous generations, the cockpit remains a snug fit. However, it can be comfortable enough for two on a weekend getaway, and the well-shaped 5.3-cubic-foot trunk can hold a couple days' worth of luggage, provided you pack light.
The simple controls and no-frills design serve the Miata and its driver well. Fit and finish are very good throughout. Dropping the manual top can be done in seconds from the driver seat. Those who would use their Miata as a daily driver should consider the PRHT because of its better noise isolation and greater security.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
More About This Model
Car reviews are often peppered with track-day jargon like "understeer," "heel-and-toe downshifting," "steering feel" and the like. If you're like most people, reviews of this nature are about as relevant to your driving habits as a comparison test of racing helmets. The average convertible buyer wants to have fun within reason: squealing tires are to be avoided, and comfort is not to be sacrificed on the altar of performance. For this demographic, the 2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata is the perfect affordable roadster.
Note that "affordable" is a relative term here. With a sticker price of more than $29,000, our Grand Touring test car was within shouting distance of the high-performance Honda S2000, which starts at $35,000 and is widely available in lightly used condition for less than a new MX-5 Grand Touring. The MX-5 is frankly a more appealing proposition in the base SV trim, which undercuts our test car's price by more than $7,000. Nonetheless, some may be willing to shell out the extra cash for niceties like leather upholstery, heated seats and a Bose stereo — and for them, the MX-5 Grand Touring likely won't disappoint.
Sweetening the deal is the Miata's stem-to-stern rejuvenation for 2009. The exterior styling has been freshened, the interior has been spruced up a bit, and the powertrain and suspension have received notable revisions. The new sport suspension package (Touring and Grand Touring only) left us wanting more in hard driving, but we couldn't argue with our MX-5's agreeable ride. As for the powertrain, it's the most engaging setup you'll find short of an S2000: The reworked engine winds out to 7,600 rpm like a sport bike while still providing respectable midrange torque, and the quicker you shift the marvelously precise six-speed manual, the better it feels.
The 2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring rides nicely, its slick convertible top operates with minimal fuss and its engine and shifter are a dynamic duo. As long as you don't treat every apex like it's part of a racetrack, the MX-5 is the roadster of choice at this price point.
Used 2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata Convertible Overview
The Used 2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata Convertible is offered in the following styles: Sport 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 5M), Sport 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6A), SV 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 5M), Grand Touring 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6M), Touring 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6A), Touring 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6M), Grand Touring 2dr Convertible w/Power Hard Top (2.0L 4cyl 6M), Grand Touring 2dr Convertible w/Power Hard Top (2.0L 4cyl 6A), Sport 2dr Convertible w/Power Hard Top (2.0L 4cyl 5M), Grand Touring 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6A), Touring 2dr Convertible w/Power Hard Top (2.0L 4cyl 6M), and Touring 2dr Convertible w/Power Hard Top (2.0L 4cyl 6A).
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Should I lease or buy a 2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.