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Avg. Price Paid:$10,689 - $12,198
Original MSRP: $20,635 - $28,210
MPG: 22 City / 27 Hwy
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2008 Mazda MX-5 Miata Interior

This interior review was written when the 2008 Mazda MX-5 Miata was new.

Reviewers generally see the 2008 MX-5's two-seat interior as classy and more spacious than previous models -- with a surprisingly roomy trunk -- though some disagree. "This latest generation (2006 and newer) Mazda Miata grew in all dimensions and it is more accommodating than before, but it's still a snug fit for full-figured or tall sports car lovers," says New Car Test Drive.

Auto writers especially appreciate the quiet cabin -- a rare trait for a convertible. Edmunds says, "That soft top registered 77.0 decibels at 70 mph; the new PRHT, just 72.9. That's a big change, one we especially appreciated..." The reviewer even finds impressive sound damping with the top down, noting, "Turbulence and wind racket are considerably improved by reshaping the header, adding front-quarter window panels in the 'V' of the A-pillars and providing a wind blocker behind the seats." But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel feels differently, commenting: "With the top up, engine and road noise combine for a booming aural effect in the passenger pod. It's no worse than with the fabric top, and is part of the price you pay for a sports car. However, it can be fatiguing on a long trip."

Seating

With the 2006 redesign, the MX-5 Miata gained about two inches in length, 1.5 inches in width and 2.5 inches for the wheelbase, translating into more shoulder, hip and head room for occupants. The Chicago Tribune appreciates the extra space, quipping, "Those 18-wheelers in the mirror are still intimidating, but at least now you have enough arm room to make the sign of the cross when one gets within inches of the rear bumper."

Nevertheless, critics still universally complain that the cockpit is cramped. According to Consumer Guide: "Those over 6-ft tall may want more legroom and top-up head clearance. Those under 5-ft-6 may have trouble seeing over the high dashboard." Forbes similarly warns, "Larger occupants may find the car's cabin claustrophobic, especially with the top up. People of average or smaller build will find it fits them like a custom-made suit."

AutoWeek finds that for taller drivers, there isn't much room with the top up. "Those same drivers might also prefer a bit more room in the footwells; the space right of the gas pedal feels particularly tight," the reviewer says. Automobile Magazine notices that "some change in the seat bolstering causes pressure that, after eight hours in the saddle, brings on sciatica." The Arizona Republic finds the interior "noticeably roomier," but says, "I'm still squished in this driver's seat, kneecaps pointing to the sky." Kelley Blue Book concludes: "If this is going to be your only mode of transport, you're not going to win many friends when it's your turn to drive the co-workers to lunch.

Another repeated complaint involves the unpadded cupholders molded into the front door panels, which intrude on legroom. Automobile Magazine says, "After five or ten minutes, your hips begin to ache and your left knee throbs from rubbing up against the awkwardly placed, door-mounted cupholder." USA TODAY similarly complains, "The holders jut in enough to eat into your outboard leg. There are two cup holders in the console, so those in the door panels are unnecessary." But the Motor Trend writer sees the cupholders as "One of my favorite little joys," adding, "By designing a deep cupholder into each door, Mazda has shown that they are serious about not getting in the way of the driver's shifting space." Reviewers also find that the low-slung MX-5 is very difficult to enter or exit, especially for taller folks. The Chicago Sun-Times says, "Large outside door handles help allow quick entry," but still adds that the car "calls for extra effort to get out."

But a few reviewers offer much more positive views of the interior. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says: "Inside, there's plenty of stretch-out space for two. The seats are firm and supportive." The Auto Channel finds the front seats "extremely comfortable" and even says, "I was impressed by the headroom with the top up. There was never the feeling that I was going to touch the roof."

Interior Features

Reviewers feel the higher-end MX-5 models are well-equipped, but note that the least expensive MX-5, the SV, is rather bare-bones. It lacks air conditioning, cruise control and power door locks. To get standard air conditioning, you'll have to upgrade to the Sport model, though even then cruise control and power door locks are only available as package options.

The Touring model adds all of the above plus other luxuries such as remote keyless entry, a six-speaker sound system and steering wheel-mounted audio and speed controls. The top-of-the-line Grand Touring is packed to the brim with luxuries including leather upholstery and a Bose audio seven-speaker sound system. It's available with few options, but even so, the Orlando Sentinel states, "It already had everything I'd want."

As for interior quality, Kelley Blue Book praises, "Fit and finish are excellent, with easy-to-read instruments." New Car Test Drive finds overall interior quality "way better than any past MX-5 Miata would have led you to expect." Consumer Guide, on the other hand, notices many hard plastic surfaces, but still says they "don't look cheap." The Auto Channel likes the layout of the cockpit, praising, "The driving office is excellent -- the steering wheel and shift lever, both leather-covered for good grip, are positioned nearly perfectly, and the pedals are placed for heel-and-toe driving."

New Car Test Drive appreciates the dashboard, which features "the kind of engine monitoring panel that sports car drivers love." It displays such information as fuel level, coolant temperature and oil pressure. However, Consumer Guide has a minor complaint about the soft top, which "lowers easily, but can be awkward to raise while seated." The hardtop invites no complaints, as it lowers or raises at the touch of a single button.

Stereo and Entertainment

The MX-5's four-speaker base stereo disappoints the CNET gadget gurus, who call it "threadbare and unintuitive," as well as "a disappointment for those who want a sound track for their open-air ride." The same reviewers also express grief that the MX-5 "doesn't come with much cabin gadgetry." In fact, the base single-disc CD player doesn't play MP3 or WMA discs and doesn't provide a jack for portable audio players. However, CNET concedes that the MX-5's customer base is "more likely to value RPMs over MP3s."

The Grand Touring comes standard with an upgraded seven-speaker Bose audio system that Kelley Blue Book calls one of its favorite features. "It's tough to get a good sound system in an affordable convertible, but Bose finally pulled it off," the reviewer praises. "With crisp highs and thumping bass, the Bose system can easily defeat the most deafening wind noise." The system even has an Audiopilot function that adjusts equalization settings depending on whether the top is up or down and whether the interior features leather or cloth.

CNET found that "while Audiopilot seems not to affect audio output, the Miata's built-in roof-activated sound adjustment will ensure that open-air drivers have a better chance of hearing their tunes." Unlike the four-speaker base stereo, they find the upgraded system's seven speakers are "more than adequate for delivering an engaging audio experience into the car's small cabin."

It's surprising no navigation option is offered with the Miata, considering its other advanced convenience and entertainment features. Check out our GPS reviews for insight on the best portable navigation device for a fly car like the Miata.

Cargo

Cargo volume in the MX-5's trunk is 5.3 cubic feet, a slight increase from the previous generation's 5.1 cubic feet. Though it's small compared to larger cars, reviewers still find the trunk "nicely shaped and fairly roomy for a small car," according to the Chicago Sun-Times. New Car Test Drive says the trunk is "made for a few small, soft bags, just enough to get a couple through a weekend trip." The Auto Channel lists the MX-5 as a winner of the "'Practally-Practacal' Luggage Carrying Award," meaning it offers enough trunk cargo space to comfortably carry a standard 22x14x8 rolling carryon, a laptop in case and a small briefcase -- "the minimum cargo capacity that a long weekend away or a return trip from the airport would require."

Reviewers love the fact that the new power retractable hardtop doesn't impact trunk space when it's folded down -- "a blessing because the MX-5 has so little of it to begin with," says New Car Test Drive." Despite that fact, CNET notes that the MX-5 still has more trunk space than the Saturn Sky or Pontiac Solstice. USA TODAY points out that the Solstice's cargo space, as is the case in many other convertibles, "vanishes to nearly nothing when the top's folded because [the top is] housed in the trunk."

In-cabin storage space is predictably tight, though reviewers still find it useful in such a small car. Edmunds welcomes "the generous new storage pockets, cubbies, nets and cupholders." Spaces include a lockable glove box, lockable CD-sized bin between the seatbacks, a pouch on the driver's seatback, three compartments in the rear bulkhead (not available on power retractable hardtop models), two cupholders in the center console and one cupholder on each door. But MSN still finds that there "isn't a great deal of room to put things in this car. With someone taking up the front-seat passenger, I had to toss my purse and briefcase into the trunk."

A point of contention is the placement of the door cupholders. Many reviewers find that they intrude on legroom. The Chicago Tribune complains that "they rub against your leg and should be eliminated." However, one or two reviewers find them useful, with MSN noting, "They were just right for water bottles."

Review Last Updated: 2/17/09

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