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2008 Mazda Miata

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2008 Mazda Miata Review

Hard-to-beat roadster.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 2008 Mazda Miata exists for basically one reason, driving fun. No utility, only two seats, and no pretense. This represents driving in its purest form. Call the Miata a rebel. In a world where cars increasingly rely on automated driving duties, cruise control, and sensors that cause the vehicle to take over specific tasks, the Miata lets the driver not only drive, but enjoy doing so. This car is all about handling and top-down fun with no other stated goals. Some vehicles in this segment (a segment rejuvenated by the Miata in the early 1990s) may outsell the Miata, but this car still remains a favorite of critics and reviewers for a good reason: it does what it does so well.

The Range

Body Styles: roadster
Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, five-speed automatic, six-speed automatic
Models: Mazda Miata SV, Mazda Miata Sport, Mazda Miata Touring, Mazda Miata Grand Touring, Mazda Miata Special Edition

What's New

For 2008, the Mazda MX-5 Miata offers just a few minor alterations including a new Special Edition trim level and a small decrease in horsepower for the models equipped with automatic transmissions.


The 2008 Mazda Miata comes in four trims: SV, Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. The SV only offers a soft black vinyl convertible top and has 16-inch alloy wheels, while the Touring upgrades to 17-inch alloy wheels and a strut tower brace. The Grand Touring trim adds a cloth convertible top available in black or parchment. Retractable-hardtop (PRHT) models are offered in the top three trims and remain identical in equipment except for the substitution of the power-retracting steel top for the soft top. The Touring and Grand Touring trims offer a Suspension Package that features a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks and a limited-slip differential.

Options group into packages. Available on the Sport, the Convenience Package provides keyless entry and power locks, cruise control, a one-touch passenger window, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, and covered storage cubbies behind the seats.

The Grand Touring offers two premium packages. Premium Package #1 only comes on models with manual transmissions and adds stability control, a limited-slip differential, advanced keyless entry, and xenon HID headlights. Number two leaves out the limited-slip differential. An appearance package adds a front air dam and lower-body skirting. Standalone options include run-flat tires, satellite radio, and a rear spoiler.


In the cabin, the SV has a CD player, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, and power windows and mirrors. The Sport adds air-conditioning and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Touring then adds cruise control, keyless entry, a six-speaker audio system with a CD changer, and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The Grand Touring upgrades to leather-upholstered and heated seats, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, and silver interior accents. Most versions offer an interior trim package featuring brushed aluminum accents.

Performance & Handling

All Miatas make use of a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 166 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque. Output reduces to 158 hp with the automatic transmission. All models use rear drive. A five-speed manual transmission comes on SV and Sport trims, while a six-speed manual remains the only choice for the Touring and Grand Touring trims. A six-speed automatic with paddle shifters offers an option on all but the SV and the Sport PRHT (power retractable hardtop).

While the Miata provides enough acceleration for daily driving duties, pure power does not mark a goal. Tests have timed the Miata with a six-speed manual gearbox at 7.5 seconds for the zero to 60 mph sprint—not blistering, but enough.

The Miata focuses on handling. Roadsters provide pure driving pleasure and that pleasure derives from the thrill of great handling. With communicative steering and road cues sent through the driver’s seat, the Miata pilot truly connects to the pavement. Crisp and smooth operation and agility to spare define the Miata, even though changes have made the ride smoother. Few cars can match the pure driving joy of a Miata.


Only the bare-bone basics come standard: anti-lock disc brakes and side airbags. Stability control only comes as an option on the Grand Touring model. Though the Miata has been around for quite some time, it offers no crash safety data. Therefore, safety does not mark a selling point. Roadsters tend not to be the most protective vehicles for occupants, though.

EPA Fuel Economy

Mazda Miata Touring: 21/28 mpg city/highway
Mazda Miata Grand Touring: 21/28 mpg city/highway
Mazda Miata Special Edition: 21/28 mpg city/highway
Mazda Miata SV: 22/27 mpg city/highway
Mazda Miata Sport: 22/27 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Fun to drive
  • Steering and handling
  • Base price
  • Economical
  • Manual shifter

You Won't Like

  • Cockpit space
  • Lack of safety data
  • Stability control only available on top model

Sum Up

Hard-to-beat roadster.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Pontiac Solstice
  • Saturn Sky
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See the New 2015 Miata.

Front & Driver Side View

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