I’m an unapologetic Mazda MX-5 Miata fanboy.
When I lived in Los Angeles, I owned one — a first-generation classic, with flip-up headlights — and I loved taking it out for jaunts up the Pacific Coast Highway and runs through the canyons.
As Mazda developed the car through subsequent generations, I thought it lost much of its essential roadster character and became more of sports car. But that all changed with the latest version of the peppy two-seater, the fourth iteration, which was unveiled in 2014.
We got a crack at the car over the winter, which wasn’t ideal. But even after a snowstorm and on winter tires, the new Miata was still a blast: I put the top down and cranked up the heater and the seat-heaters. The car has lost 220 lbs. and now feels more like my old Miata.
The new Miata returned to my driveway recently and I got to take it on a proper autumn outing, in what for me is real roadster weather: when it’s crisp and slightly chilly and a driving cap and maybe even some driving gloves make sense.
You already know that I adore the new MX-5. Here’s a closer look at why, this time with more pictures:
The exterior has shed some of bulky vibe and gotten back to sprightly basics. Overall, the car is smaller and lighter than the previous gen.
There were no steering-wheel controls on the first-gen car. But the instrument cluster hasn't changed all that much. It's simple and straightforward. The steering itself is impeccably weighted.
There's a nice, big old-school parking brake. Note the oddly placed cupholder -- I'll explain in a second.
Which is operated using these controls between the seats, as well as via the touchscreen. To make room for the controls, Mazda has to put the cupholders elsewhere: there's a removable one, for example, that juts out into the passenger's leg space. An annoying thing: your forearm tends to jostle the big knob when you're shifting gears, making for sudden and inadvertent infotainment inputs.
The glove compartment is between the seats, behind the driver and passenger -- and just about large enough to handle an actual pair of gloves.
Dual pipes! The new MX-5 has a 155-horsepower 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder engine, located right up front under the hood. Rear-wheel-drive makes for a classic motoring experience. Some folks complain about the blah exhaust note, but the lack of burps or blare has never bothered me.
You don't get big honkin' brake disc and calipers with the Miata, but that's the beauty of this baby. It isn't really that fast: 0-60 mph in about 6 seconds, quick but not blistering, with a top speed of 140 mph. You just don't need big brakes to rein in that kind of Mazda fury.
I go back and forth on what my perfect car is and the Miata is the built-for-fun performance ride that I bond with most easily.
The car just feels right. I can effortlessly slip right back into grabbing the gears, pushing that snappy 2.0-litre motor for all its worth, rev-match like a madman on all my downshifts, and toss the MX-5 around all over the place, relishing its exquisite balance -- all while staying well under the legal speed limit!
My heart remains with the first-gen Miata, but I have to admit that the car has been well updated, without compromising what made its great back when it was introduced. You have everything you could want on the technology front, and the fourth-gen MX-5 restores a proper roadster feel. Hard to complain about anything.
The Miata is motoring bliss. Pure motoring bliss. There's no better car to spend an autumn weekend with.
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