2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Written By Anqoinette Crosby

Mazda MX-5 Miata Overview

The seasonal appearance of the voluminous cherry blossoms here in the nation’s capital is a visually stunning signal that spring has arrived. That’s when thousands of visitors, me included, swarm the Potomac River and National Mall to take selfies with the dainty pink flowers dangling in the background.  These cotton ball-like blossoms have been a popular attraction since first arriving in Washington D.C. in 1912 as a gift from Japan. Having stood the test of time, they continue to bring joyful smiles to all who walk through the pastel pink wonderland.

I noted a similar response while enjoying yet another gift from Japan during my annual excursion to the Cherry Blossom Festival—the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata.  Now in its fourth generation after making its debut at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show, this sexy soft-top convertible still evokes ardent admiration from just about everyone. Even better, when it comes to top-down driving on quieter, less traveled backroads, the 2017 Mazda MX-5 is a wonderful companion.

Sunglasses on, seatbelt fastened and music up, I channeled my inner Danica Patrick, grasped the leather-wrapped steering wheel and seamlessly merged into traffic on the Baltimore-Washington Beltway. Relishing the effortless nature of the six-speed manual transmission, I shifted through the gears quickly and smoothly.

For the MX-5 Grand Touring, the base Miata’s cloth seats are swapped out for leather with three-stage heat settings. Swaddled in their embrace, I was bopping to The Chainsmokers’ latest hit on the nine-speaker BOSE Audio System (including headrest speakers!). The audio system is part of the Mazda Connect infotainment package, which is accessed via a seven-inch touchscreen.

Other features include LED running lamps, keyless entry and sound absorption material in the cloth headliner. While I’m sure it does its best, I still found the cabin a bit noisy, though I do realize that’s part of the appeal of driving a roadster—even one with a modern edge like the MX-5.

I’m always jockeying for the best position on the often-crowded link between Maryland and D.C. A quick forward scan to see which lane was moving fastest told me it wasn’t the one I was in.  With a swift glance over my shoulder to the left, I prepared to make a MX-5 GT move, but was thwarted by the huge blind spots you get when the top is closed. Fortunately though, the Grand Touring version of the Mazda has blind spot monitoring to help you keep track of cars beside you. I wound up almost solely relying on its alerts for lane changes. Think of them as your co-pilots and they masterfully step in when the driving situation requires it.

Speaking of clutches though (I’m talking about purses now), when you’ve added a passenger, you’ve just lost the space for yours. Abundant interior storage is not happening here—OK? An oversized purse, a big package, or a week’s worth of groceries will travel in the trunk—period. But don’t despair; trunk space is surprisingly generous. It’s even deep enough to swallow my always-bloated carry-on suitcase.

For this version of the MX-5, Mazda shaved 150 pounds off the platform compared to its predecessor, so this nimble little ride glides along the road with a sexy swagger.  Power comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. This sounds mild, but keep in mind we’re talking about a 2300-pound two-seat roadster. By comparison, a Porsche Boxster weighs just under 3,000 pounds and a Ford Mustang can weigh up to 3,800 pounds. In other words, the Mazda’s engine makes more than enough power to keep things entertaining. The rear-drive sports car gets a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment. A six-speed automatic with paddle shifters is available as an option.

Arriving in the District, I parked the MX-5 (which was a breeze, thanks to its diminutive dimensions) and found my friends. I felt a sudden burst of youthful excitement as we began our walk among the cherry blossoms, partly from the nature of the day and partly from the joy of zipping around in the Miata.

 

Yes, spring has finally arrived in all its glory, which makes driving a sporty little roadster like the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring an event truly worth celebrating.

 

Pricing starts at $31,270

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