NEW FOR 2008:

– Driver’s seat height adjuster added to GS and GT models
– Six-CD changer standard on GT models
– Saddle Brown leather interior receives new black dash, centre console, door panels and glove-box instead of brown

For 2008, the Mazda MX-5 receives only trim changes.

Still known to many devotees as the Miata, the MX-5 uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with various transmission choices: a five-speed manual that can be optioned to a six-speed automatic with manual shift mode on GX models; a six-speed manual that’s the sole choice on the GS; and a six-speed manual that can be optioned to a six-speed automatic with manual shift mode and paddle shifters on the GT.

Three tops are available: a black vinyl roof on the GX and GS, a brown or black cloth roof on the GT, and optional on all models, a power retractable hardtop. Both soft tops are operated manually, but are so easy to use that they can be opened and closed from the driver’s seat. The power hardtop disappears under a metal tonneau; the package includes a steel trunk lid instead of aluminum, and the suspension is tuned to accommodate the extra weight.

Features on the GX include 16-inch alloy wheels, fixed intermittent wipers, front and rear stabilizer bars, fog lamps, CD stereo with wheel-mounted controls, wind blocker, black seatback bars, cruise control, tilt wheel, power locks with keyless entry, power windows, and locking glove-box. Available options include air conditioning.

The GS adds 17-inch alloy wheels, silver seatback bars, tunnel net pocket, and unique to the GS, standard stability and traction control, limited-slip differential, strut tower bar and sport suspension with Bilstein shocks.

The GT builds on the GX with 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, strut tower bar, Xenon headlights, six-CD premium stereo, keyless entry and start, heated leather seats, silver seatback bars, tunnel net pocket, side airbags and anti-theft alarm system. It can be optioned with a package that includes stability and traction control, limited-slip differential, and sport suspension with Bilstein shocks.

Although it isn’t meant for very tall drivers, the MX-5 remains a well-priced sport roadster, with superb steering, stiff but lightweight construction, one of the industry’s best shifters, and taut handling.

Some find its styling bland, especially when compared with the equally value-priced Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, and buyers should test-drive both when comparison shopping. Be sure to check the trunk, though; while the GM models have only a narrow, shallow trunk for storage space, the MX-5 can handle a weekend getaway’s luggage with ease, whether in soft- or hardtop configuration.

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