2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring

It looks like this Miata is quite the seductress, convincing both Zenlea and me to take extended runs with the top down in Michigan's surprisingly cold October. When I made the 30-minute commute home, the temperature readout indicated it was a nippy 47 degrees. But cranking the seat heaters and blasting the heat kept things bearable, but it's the fun built into this car that convinced me to put the top down in the first place.

This is one of the best shifters, with crisp flicks to move it around. Effort and throw length are just right. Steering has dead even effort from the moment you move the wheel off-center. These two inputs-steering and shifting-make every reaction of this car that much sweeter. It responds just as you expect.

I won't call the features on this particular Miata "unnecessary" like Zenlea, but I would pass up a few options if I were buying a Miata. I'd step down from the Grand Touring to the Touring model, saving $1260 and losing only a Bose stereo, automatic climate control and a few other trivial items. I'd also be forced to ditch the $1650 premium package (only available on the Grand Touring), with keyless ignition, satellite radio, and Xenon headlights-all fine by me. The Touring is the cheapest Miata you can buy, and still get the sport suspension, limited-slip differential, and six-speed manual. Buying a Touring model also means you don't have to hold the stability control button for 15 seconds to deactivate the system. That safety feature is solely offered on the top Grand Touring trim, and then only as an option.

Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor

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