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2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata DETAILED Review on Everyman Driver, Dave Erickson

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2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata DETAILED Review on Everyman DriverTwenty-five years of endless smiles has brought the MX-5 Miata to the cusp of driving perfection. The 2015 MX-5 continues to provide the solution for automotive enthusiasts and convertible-lovers alike as it dominates the affordable sports car market with more than 940,000 sold worldwide, and retains the Guinness World Records as the best-selling two-seat roadster in the world. To commemorate the last 25 years of driving pleasure, a special MX-5 25th Anniversary Edition was announced, and completely sold out in less than 10 minutes.

“The MX-5 has been the icon for Mazda since its inception 25 years ago,” said Jim O’Sullivan, president and CEO, Mazda North American Operations. “The roadster embodies everything Mazda stands for as a brand and provides our consumers with the very best in Mazda driving dynamics. We only hope that the next 25 years of MX-5 are as fun and rewarding as the past 25 years.”

The MZR 2.0L engine is nestled in the engine bay as far back as possible to bring most of the weight between the front and rear wheels. The highly-responsive, free-revving aluminum block and head combine to produce 167 horsepower at 7,000 rpm when mated to a manual transmission. The automatic-equipped MX-5 has a maximum output of 158 horsepower at 6,700 rpm and both engines produce 140 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. Keeping that torque straight and minimizing the twist between the engine, transmission and differential, is an aluminum “Power Plant Frame” creating a rigid relationship between the three most important parts of the MX-5.

The internals of the MZR engine are up to the driving task. Not only does the aluminum block combine with the head to make the overall engine lighter in weight, it also increases structural rigidity, which enhances performance and refinement. There is a chain connecting the forged steel crankshaft and the two double-headed camshafts, which dictate the opening and closing of 16 valves. Improving the breathing of the MZR is a variable intake valve timing system that enables better low-end torque and high-rpm breathability, leading to high-end power all the way to the 7,200 rpm redline (6,700 in the automatic variant). Pushing air out of those valves, while inherently sucking more air into the combustion chamber, are a set of pistons connected through floating wrist pins to forged steel connecting rods. Keeping the internals lubricated and the engine oil cool is an auxiliary engine oil cooler.

2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata DETAILED Review on Everyman Driver with Dave EricksonThree transmissions are available on the 2015 MX-5 starting with the standard-issue 5-speed manual with a short-throw shifter, which comes exclusively in the Sport trim. Step-up to the Club or Grand Touring trims and gain a cog through the six-speed manual gearbox with closely stacked gear ratios, which enhances acceleration feel. All trims have the availability of a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. A properly laid-out and race-inspired shifter, which commands upshifts by the driver pulling down and downshifts by pushing up on the stick, lies in the center console and beckons the manual shift mode be used.


New for 2015, the premium canvas top is available on all trim levels, including Sport. This means consumers can now get the benefit of the fade-resistance black canvas. The soft top is easily operated by a single latch in the center. Release the latch and the top retracts in a z-folding manner to rest behind the seats. The good news is the top’s operation and final resting position doesn’t impede on the 5.3 cubic feet of cargo space inside the trunk.

The Power Retractable Hard Top (PRHT) is available on the Club and Grand Touring trims and comes in black in the Club trim and body-colored in the Grand Touring trim. Designed to operate in all climates around the world, the PRHT is industry leading in speed, taking just 12 seconds to go from fully open to fully closed, and vice-a-versa. Similar to the soft top, there is a single latch in the center of the windshield frame and one button on the dash to manage the whole operation.

MX-5 25th Anniversary Edition
Celebrating 25 years of a car so captivating, so invigorating and so abundantly loved by the enthusiast community is no easy task. Mazda delivered in spades with the MX-5 25th Anniversary Edition in a mesmerizing Soul Red exterior garnished with Brilliant Black A-pillars, windshield surround, outside mirrors, MX-5-signature PRHT and 10-spoke, Dark Gunmetal aluminum alloy wheels wrapped in tarmac-grabbing Bridgestone® Potenza RE05A 205/45R17-84W tires.

The interior of the 25th anniversary edition delivers an aura of luxury, sportiness and special one-of-a-kind touches to remind its occupants just how truly special this car is. Nicely bolstered seats wrapped in supple Almond leatherwith matching door trim treat the driver and passenger to a light and bright interior. Keeping with the “light and bright” theme is a liquid metal-like satin chrome finish used on the louver rings, gauge cluster meter rings, and inner door handles. Of course, the dark and fun nature of the MX-5 must be expressed somewhere, and it is, with the accompaniment of Brilliant Black and Piano Black in the seatback garnish and steering wheel spokes, respectively. Genuine black leather wraps the steering wheel and parking brake lever.

2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata DETAILED Review on Everyman Driver with Dave EricksonNo special edition would be complete without the appropriate badging, and in the MX-5’s case, special hand-crafted details. The Almond leather seats come complete with the 25th Anniversary logo debossed into the headrests and represented on the stainless steel door scuff plates. The hand-painted instrument panel spanning the entire width of the dash features a red base paint with a black gradient, ensuring no two cars are the same. There is a single 25th Anniversary badge on the driver’s side front fender.

Of course, all of these aesthetic treatments wouldn’t mean much if the anniversary edition didn’t have the power and handling to back it up. While engine internals such as pistons, connecting rods and flywheel are already lightweight with low inertia and extremely fine tolerances in every MX-5, the anniversary cars received hand-selected engine components, which were all tested to ensure they were the lightest and best-balanced of the bunch. This results in an engine that revs even more freely, delivering an extraordinary response, precision acceleration and an ear-tickling engine note. Lastly, but most certainly not least, Bilstein® dampers are standard, along with a limited-slip differential, on all six-speed manual transmission-equipped vehicles.

The Sport trim provides all the same driving and exhilarating convertible fun, but in a more affordable and easier to obtain package. Customers will notice that the cloth top comes standard in the Sport trim for 2015. Weighing in at a low 2,447 lbs., Sport models are equipped with a short-throw shifter five-speed manual transmission, 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels outfitted with 205/50R16 high-performance Yokohama ADVAN A11A tires, dual exhausts, chrome headlamp bezels, power-adjustable mirrors, power windows with a driver’s one-touch up/down feature, air conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an AM/FM/CD/MP3-compatible audio system with six speakers, an auxiliary audio jack and speed-sensing automatic volume control. The black-cloth upholstered bucket seats feature manual reclining, forward/back sliding functions and seat height adjustment.

The Convenience Package is the only available option for cars equipped with the five-speed manual and adds features such as cruise control, a “global open” window function (the ability to lower both windows via a keyless transmitter prior to entering the vehicle), power-locking doors, remote keyless entry, silver seatback bar trim, a trip computer as well as steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls. Elect to go with the six-speed automatic transmission in the Sport model and the Convenience Package comes standard.

2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata DETAILED Review on Everyman Driver with Dave EricksonReturning for 2015 is the edgy but well-mannered Club model with a standard six-speed manual transmission. The Club represents spirited driving mixed with style and sophistication. It comes equipped with a shock tower brace to help increase front-end rigidity while rolling on Dark Gunmetal 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 205/45R17 street-sticky Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires. Adding to the curb appeal are black-accent details like outside mirrors and headlamp bezels. A black front air dam and rear diffuser are included as well as a seat back bar garnish displayed in a glossy dark gray motif. Sticking with the standard transmission also nets the buyer the Suspension Package, which features a sport-tuned suspension, Bilstein shocks and a limited-slip differential. Rounding out the exterior features are specialized “Club” graphics and badges along with a black top (soft top or PRHT) to give the roadster a bold look.

The “Club” treatment doesn’t stop at the door skin. Sitting inside the car will reveal a body-color-matched decoration panel featuring trim-specific graphics. Black cloth seats stitched with red contrast thread round out the racing-inspired interior. The Convenience Package is also included in the Club model.

2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata DETAILED Review on Everyman Driver with Dave EricksonIf consumers aren’t looking for a race-inspired interior but instead a more luxurious feel, the top-of-the-line Grand Touring sits on 17-inch Silver Aluminum alloy wheels shod with the same ultra-sticky 205/45R17 Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires from the Club. Available with either a black or Spicy Mocha cloth soft top or a body-colored PRHT, the interior features the Sport’s Convenience Package as well as leather-trimmed seats (also in either black or Spicy Mocha) with five heat settings, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink®, an in-dash six-disc CD changer, leatherette door trim, a Bose® seven-speaker premium surround sound audio system, silver seat back bar trim and a leather-wrapped parking brake with a matching leather-wrapped shift knob.

Also available as a bundle are the Suspension and Premium Packages. Similar to the Suspension Package on the Club, it features Bilstein shocks, a limited-slip differential and sport-tuned suspension. The Premium Package adds an anti-theft alarm, a Bluetooth® hands-free phone system, xenon headlights, the Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry System and Sirius Satellite Radio with a four-month complimentary subscription (Sirius Satellite Radio is an available option on Sport and Club models). When fully-equipped and topped with a PRHT, the MX-5 tips the scales at a low 2,619 lbs.

In an effort to maximize weight savings, MX-5 features an aluminum hood, trunk lid, control arms, rear uprights and rear calipers. Additionally, MX-5’s unibody makes widespread use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength tensile steel, which increases body strength while decreasing weight.

All models of the 2015 MX-5 Miata include advanced safety features such as dual front airbags with a passenger deactivation switch, side-impact airbags, side-impact door beams, three-point safety belts with pretensioners and force limiters, an Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), a Traction Control System (TCS) and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).

Also, all Mazda vehicles come with the Mazda Certified Roadside Assistance Program. Using either the toll-free number or free Mazda Assist app for iOS- and Android-operated mobile devices, vehicle owners and their family members can contact roadside assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout the United States and Canada. In addition, the New Vehicle Limited Warranty includes a comprehensive three-year/36,000-mile warranty, which covers every part of the vehicle except those subject to normal wear, a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and a five-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion warranty.

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