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The 2017 Mazda MX-5 (formerly the Miata) is still the same much-loved, million- selling roadster. It just has had a few minor tweaks.

Powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine with 155 horsepower, the MX-5 is offered in Sport, Club and Grand Touring trims. My test vehicle, reviewed months before the car was available to the public and without an MSRP, was the top-line Grand Touring.

After a loss of 200 pounds from 2015 to last year, the MX-5’s acceleration improved about a half-second. It completes the standard 0-60 mph test in 6.2 seconds. It’s 100 pounds lighter in 2017 and now is less than 2,000 pounds. No further significant changes were made for 2017, but the car’s new fitness helps keep its competitors guessing.

In addition to a six-speed manual transmission with a nifty short-throw shifter, the Grand Touring edition has a steering wheel, shift knob, and parking brake all wrapped in leather.

Standard features include a manually retractable black soft top with a glass rear window, LED headlights and taillights, air-conditioning, push-button ignition, a height-adjustable driver seat and cruise control, a Bluetooth-ready phone with audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, USB port and an auxiliary audio jack headline technology.
A lane departure warning system, a cross traffic monitoring alert system and heated side mirrors are also standard.

As a 6-foot, 200-pound driver, I often felt cramped getting in and out of the car. Ninety minutes into one test drive, I had knee pain. There’s little room in the MX-5 to stretch out or even to slightly extend limbs.

Convertibles are universal in one respect. They’re more fun to drive with the top down. The cloth top unlatches and manually snaps closed with ease. Still, on the road the MX-5 was the antithesis of elegant driving.

The MX-5 also had a driver’s side blind spot, and it wasn’t quick from a standing start. The acceleration substantially improved approaching freeway speeds, and cornering and steering were responsive. There’s limited trunk space and the MX-5 advances with a low-to-the-ground rough ride.

But that’s all part of the sport’s car allure. The MX-5 is the ultimate fun roadster. It’s difficult to drive without smiling.

James Raia, a freelance writer based in Sacramento, California, is the editor and publisher of the weeklydriver.com and the automotive columnist for the Bay Area News Group. Contact him via email: james@jamesraia.com 

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