BEHIND THE WHEEL: Roadster Ready with the 2017 Mazda Miata


By Rita Cook / The Ellis County Press

Driving should be an adventure. Certainly there are many choices to get the adventure started. However, last week when I drove the little 2017 Mazda Miata I actually found myself smiling when I thought about going anywhere. I was looking for adventure and trying to create new places to drive this little roadster.

The Mazda folks use the term “Jinba Ittai” as what this car is all about. That means connecting the driver and vehicle and making it one.

The Mazda folks said this Miata is the perfect car for the “daily driver, a weekend toy and a multiple-time championship-winning race car, alike.”

This fourth-generation MX-5 is definitely lightweight, nimble and fun to drive.

The competition includes the Ford Mustang Convertible, Mini Convertible and the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, but none of these options generate the excitement in me that this Mazda two-seater does.

Last year saw a full re-design of the MX-5 Miata so there is little that was changed for 2017. It is the same modern look and feel. There are a few tweaks on the infotainment system and Mazda introduced the MX-5 Miata Riata this year with a folding hardtop.

A reminder too, this roadster takes home the prize in being the lightest Miata since the mid-1970s.

There are three trim levels you can choose from the Sport, Club and Grand Touring.

The Sport trim offers a bare interior with red stitched seats. The Club trim is for those drivers who are more into the sports aspect of driving. The Grand Touring caters to those with a whim for technology and comfort including nine speakers (headrest-mounted speakers too). Even better, all the controls are at your fingertips with a seven-inch commander control knob.

The latest addition to the MX-5 family is the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF. The RF fully embodies the model’s 28-year-old tradition of fun-to-drive. The vehicle does not stray far from the open-top vibe either. Here however, there is the power folding hardtop that can open or close in 13 seconds. There is also a 4.6 inch full-color display.

On all the trims you get the same engine, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. You can opt for a manual or automatic transmission.

Safety features on the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata include anti-lock brakes, stability control, front and side impact airbags, pretensioners for the seatbelts during a collision and a security system with an ignition disable device. On the RF there is rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, high beam control, adaptive front lighting system and rain-sensing wipers.

While the Miata is fun to drive, it is not recommended for long road trips unless you plan to pack light. There is no space inside the cockpit other than a small storage bin. The cup holders are in between the seats, but at an awkward position to try and drink. Although you can get to the cup while driving if you must because I did it. The trunk is a small 4.6-cubic-foot.

Once inside and behind the wheel everything feels perfect. The seats are comfortable with side bolsters offering lateral support. Expect good visibility with just the right windshield and roof placement.

In fact, the 2017 Mazda MX-5 was created to offer the most “human-centric driving” possible. The pedals are optimized to work with the movement of the driver’s feet to assure comfort. Passengers will also notice the seats have been inset to feel in-line with the center of the vehicle.

All this for that Jinba Ittai experience.

When you take her on the road remember the windier road the better. This is where the little roadster shines. I spent a bit of time highway driving the Grand Touring trim and it was comfortable, fast and nimble. I felt a strong confidence. While small in size, this little Miata touts a strong presence when on the road.

Should you need to know – The 2017 Mazda Miata has two USB ports, but there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. There is also a 12-volt outlet in the passenger’s feet area.

Miles – The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata will get you a miles per gallon of 26 on the highway and 35 in the city in the automatic or 33 miles per gallon in the city in the manual transmission.

Cost – The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring I drove started at $31,555.

For more auto tips and information follow Rita @RitaCook13.