Drive Review: 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata GT

Our Car

Just in time for some mid-summer fun, Mazda dropped off a 2017 MX-5 Miata Grand Touring in Ceramic Metallic paint.  The GT drop-top has a base price of $30,900 with a do-it-yourself transmission.  Ours came with advanced keyless entry ($130) and an interior package ($425) that includes aluminum pedals, oil cap, and door sill plates; bringing the total to $31,455.  The entire Miata range varies from $25,790 for a Sport soft-top to $35,875 for a loaded RF (retractable fastback) GT.

New for 2017 Model Year 

We enjoyed the tires off the 2016 Club trim we had previously, and the only major change Mazda made was to add Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert to the Club trim.  Sport and Grand Touring trims are unchanged.

850-Mile Road Trip

There’s no better way to get to know a car than to take it on a road trip, so that’s what we did, to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.  The ride up was met with some strong thunderstorms, but nothing the diminutive two-seater couldn’t handle.  In fact, it handled the rain-soaked roads extremely well.  The automatic windshield wipers at times seemed to have a mind of their own, but handled the job with only a pair of manual overrides.  The darkened back roads around our destination were no match for the adaptive LED headlights (they point where the wheel is turned) or the impressively quick automatic high beams.  The automatic-dimming side mirror was more impressive than expected, though the auto-dimming rear view mirror could have been more sensitive.  All told, getting through adverse weather and black skies is a breeze.

The ride of the GT is softer than that of the Club.  Not only does it not have the Bilstein shocks, it also lacks a front strut bar and 18-inch wheels (our Club tester was equipped with the optional 18-inch BBS wheels) which give it more roll through the corners.  Also missing is the limited-slip differential which made the GT less twitchy, but also a little less fun.  Interior comfort was good for the first couple of hours, but anything longer than that and leg soreness started to become a factor.  At six-feet tall (and most of that being legs) this issue may have been more size-related than any issue with the Miata’s heated leather seats.

The biggest gripe about the experience was the road noise that, at times, leaves the driver looking for holes in the car that must clearly go straight through to the pavement below.  Alas, there are none, but it left us surprised that the GT trim didn’t receive more sound-deadening material.  Not to fear, there is a nice Bose speaker system and a 7-inch display audio with a control interface on the center console.  Those controls are, in fact, the only other sticking point with the interior, as they are easily bumped when shifting.  Oh well, no one ever claimed the interior was roomy.

Having 155-hp doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you consider the sub-2,400 lb curb weight, this little thing scoots right along, especially above 3,000 rpm.  With the six-speed manual, the EPA rates the MX-5 at 26/33/29 using premium octane gasoline.  We saw 33 mpg on a mixed tank and 36 overall, leading us to believe the numbers are quite conservative.  The clutch pedal has good feel with an engagement point right off the floor, but the shift lever action could have been a touch smoother (though this is really nit-picking).

Our Take

We still love this little roadster, and it really can’t be faulted for being what it is; a two-seat convertible sports car.  That said, a little more differentiation between the trims would be nice.  Pushing the GT further towards comfort wouldn’t hurt a bit.  Sure, there were things that were bothersome, but at the end of the road trip, we’d have no problem jumping in and doing it all over.

Editor’s Note: The sky was a bit intimidating on the way up North.  I did stop at a rest area and wait for this cell to pass.  I’d hate to be responsible for putting any hail dents in this beautiful little car.

Photo Credit: Joe Fischer

Randy Milanowski

Randy Milanowski

Randy has had a passion for the automobile for as long as he can remember. He lives in the Chicagoland area with his wife, pets, and project cars.

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