2009 Mazda MX-5 Review

2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata

When a 2009 Mazda MX-5 showed up on our review schedule, I was a bit concerned. See, I’m a little over 6’4″ tall, and shaped somewhat like a pear. I’ve never had much luck getting comfortable in smaller cars, and little compacts like the Honda S2000 and Mercedes SLK are completely hopeless. I figure the MX-5 (aka Miata) would suffer the same fate.

When they dropped off the MX-5, I was able to drive the car with relative comfort, assuming the top was down and seat was all the way back. But the size of the MX-5 is part of what attracts its buyers; being so small and nimble is what gives the driver such a close connection with the car, and the top down makes it a pleasure to drive.

2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata

When the MX-5 Miata was introduced 20 years ago, it was an instant success, having brought back the enthusiasm of the old British roadsters. Driving enthusiasts rejoiced, and are still doing so today. The MX-5, while not as modern or refined as many competitors, was the original small roadster in North America and has more fan clubs than almost any other car in the world. It’s hard for any manufacturer to garner that many loyal enthusiasts for a car, so what makes this one so special?

Since I was never part of the roadster movement, and never fell in love with one, I don’t have brand loyalty clouding my judgment while driving this new Miata. After squeezing in and driving to the store, I see why people like these cars. Despite being a big guy, I can drive the MX-5 comfortably. The 6-speed manual transmission really should be the only option in this car, but a 6-speed automatic is available for people who don’t “get” this type of car, and the SV and Sport trims have a 5-speed manual instead. Assuming you do this right thing and go with a manual gearbox, you’ll get 167 hp out of the 2.0-liter four-banger sitting under the hood. Autos drop the power down to 158 – a victim of powertrain loss. Sadly, the MX-5 does not have a high-powered turbocharged version, unlike its competitors.

2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata interior

Driving around town, I began noticing the shocking number of Miatas on the street, as each passing driver gave the casual two-finger fellow-Miata-driver wave of respect. Wow, people really do love these cars. I just had to find out why, so we decided to take it to the coast. I plugged my iPhone into the standard auxiliary jack, started my “Driving Music” playlist through the 7-speaker Bose sound system, folded down the roof, and off we went.

Thankfully, we had pleasant weather for most of the four-hour drive there and back, except for a 20-minute long thunderstorm that required us to close the top. This gave my skin a break from the vicious sun beating down, but for a tall guy like me, also made the cabin claustrophobic and uncomfortable. When the sun came back out I pulled over and held the button to fold back down the retractable hard-top, which takes only 12 seconds to go up or down. When the windy roads came, I really started to see where this car shines. Our review model had the $500 Sport Suspension package, which gives the car extra sharp handling through turns and pure driving pleasure. Suddenly my jaw began to hurt, not having realized I’ve been grinning ear to ear for the past 20 minutes.

2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata

On the coast, the MX5 was rewarded with plenty of looks, despite many of the more “prestigious” cars cruising around. The styling was modified a bit for 2009 to make the car appear more aggressive – a welcome change from the pill-shaped car from last year, but I can’t get past the huge grin of the front-end. Cute, but looks just like Lightning McQueen. Despite looking like a Disney character, it’s not an unattractive car. While it may not be as aggressive as the Honda S2000 or Saturn Sky, it has a more humble charm.

The 2009 Mazda MX-5 is certainly more of an everyday driver than it used to be. Unlike some of the older models, you can now get quite a lot of luxury and technology bits thrown in, and still only barely cross the $30,000 mark. The 2009 MX-5 starts at $22,500, but doesn’t include A/C. Want the bare basics? At least go with the Sport trim, and if you’re looking to buy a daily driver, you can get into the Touring or Grand Touring packages for a few more grand. If you want the retractable hardtop, expect to fork out another $1,800-2,600, depending on trim level. I’d go with the soft-top, personally. The hardtop looks better when it’s up, but it’s heavier, more expensive, and you’ll have the top down most of the time anyway.

2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata rear

For 2009, the Mazda MX-5 Miata has stayed true to its roots, offering a light, fun, and quick roadster for people who look at driving as something more than just a method to get to work and back. And now that it’s even more drivable (and can comfortably fit a guy my size,) you can do exactly that, every day.

Visit TrueCar to see what others are really paying for this car!

Competitors:

Saturn Sky
Honda S2000
Pontiac Solstice

2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata retractable hardtop

2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata front

Chris Burdick

Chris Burdick

Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Hi! I founded Automoblog.net in May of 2006. I'm an avid sports car and supercar enthusiast. My favorite cars include the Audi R8, Lamborghini Diablo 6.0 VT, and Koenigsegg CCX. I think the Ferrari 360 Spider is still one of the most beautiful cars in existence. For “normal” cars, I tend to lean towards imports - Nissan, Audi, and of course the Italians. I'm in love with my Pearl Yellow (don't judge) 1990 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo and plan to get around 550 HP to the rear wheels one day. I'm also a world traveler and have been backpacking Europe since March 2012, writing about cars along the way
Chris Burdick

@Automoblog

The car blog where auto enthusiasts mouth off to one another
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Filed Under: Car ReviewsMazda


  • http://www.automoblog.net/ Nicholas Borgia

    I think a picture of you squeezed in the car with the top up would've made for a great picture.

    Glad you enjoyed it though. They are terrific cars.

  • http://www.automoblog.net/ Chris

    haha, I actually thought about doing that, too. I did like the car more than I thought I would. I still wouldn't buy one, and not only because I'm too big, but because it's just not my type of car. I'd rather have something like the Nissan 370Z.

  • http://www.automoblog.net/ Tony Borroz

    You know, I've owned Miatas (almost exclusively) since '92, and I'm fatter than I should be.

    The guy that first turned me on to Miatas was a friend of mine that was an Olympic class rower. 6 foot 4, 220 pounds, and you wouldn't think he cold fit in a Miat, but he did, no problem.

    Now, S2000 on the other hand … I could never fit my shoulders in those cars.

  • Victor

    I bought a 2008 MX-5 in copper red, with the retractable hard top. All in all, I couldn't be more pleased… While the Bose sound system is alright, I've found that the best 'music' is that produced by the car itself when the top is down: the swoosh of car cutting through air, the gravelly hum of the engine, and the thrum of tires working their magic on the surface of a winding country road. Magic!

  • Elias

    I bought an 09 Mx-5 (True Red) in June of this year. Before I made my first payment I had 5k miles on the car. This is my first Miata and I truly didnt understand the "miata love and loyalty" until I got one. I actually even enjoy driving the 13 miles to work. Heading to the mountains in a few weeks…..I CANT WAIT!!!

  • http://www.automoblog.net/ Chris Burdick

    Elias, the mountain drive is surely going to be a great time.

  • Jason C.

    Most of the time I would have to agree about having a manual transmission in a car like this is a must. However, after experiencing a 2009 Mazda Miata automatic transmission w/paddle shifters totally through my logic into the trash can about how important the manual transmission is. The car shifted wonderfully with the paddle's and they seemed like racing inspired paddle shifters. It is also very convenient to have the option to manually shift or to just drive regularly in heavy traffic or long trips.

    Just my 2 cents. I love paddle shifters.