Mazda MX-5 Miata review

Look at the spec sheet of a Mazda MX-5 Miata, and it would be easy to dismiss it as a sissy car. To be politically incorrect, it could be considered a secretary car. But if you’ve never driven one, and by driven one I mean DRIVEN one, it would be a serious mistake to quickly dismiss it.

It’s been available on our shores since 1990. While it has seen several upgrades and changes over the years, the basic formula has remained the same:
a bubble shape, two seats, a four cylinder engine, rear wheel drive, and an easy to swallow price tag. The chassis is one of the most flexible and driver-oriented out there. It’s easy to balance in the curves, and oversteer can even be induced for the determined. The chassis hardwires itself to your brain; wish the car to maneuver and it does. The steering is dead accurate and telegraphs everything happening.

Even though weight has increased over the years, power has gone up as well to compensate. While you won’t see an abundance of power on any given model, (save perhaps the Mazdaspeed turbo edition), you will have enough, thus keeping the overall balance theme consistent. Revs come quickly and easily. The shifter snick-snicks from gear to gear with the best gearbox this side of a S2000. An automatic is available, but to choose that jobs the car of much of its joy. Besides, the Miata is so easy and flexible to operate that there is just no reason to pick the auto tranny no matter what your driving skill level is.

The best thing about the Miata is that driving one reminds you of what driving is all about. When hustling it along your favorite backroad, you can’t help but smile while wringing out the Miata at 9/10th’s. As an added bonus, this performance does not come at the expense of your comfort. The suspension will not beat you up, and gas mileage is more than reasonable for a sports car. Plus, since it is not a hot rod, you can confidently explore the upper reaches of its limits on public roads without risking your license or jail time. Get more serious about exploring and tuning a Miata, and fan clubs and track events are not too hard to find.

Given that it has been in production for 18 years as of this writing, finding one is painless. They have demonstrated excellent reliability and low cost of ownership. Drive a few to get a feel for the different series and see which one speaks loudest to you. For a basic primer, check out this popular Miata forum. If you call yourself a driving enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to at least drive one of these in your life. If nothing else it’ll remind you of what a drivers car is REALLY all about.

Photos property of Mazda

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