Mazda’s MX-5 Miata 6-Speed
“This is the next best thing to riding a motorcycle.”
Those were my first thoughts while dropping the top on Mazda’s latest MX-5 Miata, and then blasting into the Hill Country west of Austin. We’d had some rain, and I’d been testing the new Miata with the top up for a few days. I was anxious to get the top down.
I only had the car for a week, and I had some reservations at first. It looked small. It is small. Getting in and out of it might get tiresome. But it didn’t. I’m 5’10” and 165 lbs. It required a twist or two, but once settled in was all-day comfortable.
The Miata is outfitted with a 6-speed manual transmission connected to a 2.0 liter four delivering 189 HP and 151 lb-ft of torque. The platform remains rear-wheel drive, sitting on 17-inch wheels running P205/45R17 high-performance tires. Add the Bilstein shocks and it’s a dream to drive, especially over the 300-350 mile Hill Country road course I like to put everything through. The all-day drive test, as I call it.
Enough time to find everything and get used to using it.
The Miata powered through corners and up hills. Its Bose 9-speaker audio system, Wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto served up a respectable amount of sound, although I prefer the sound of gears shifting and engines revving. Most of the time the audio remained off. In traffic, I turned it back on.
The 7” touch-screen display wasn’t obtrusive. The heated leather sport seats allowed the top, once down, to remain down. Did I say rain? I did, and that’s what the Miata’s rain-sensing windshield wipers are for. And heated power side mirrors, just in case you’re out on a dark and stormy night in winter.
The Miata has front and rear stabilizer bars and a front double-wishbone suspension and it shows. Plus, a limited-slip differential. The power plant is a SkyActiv 2.0L DOHC 4-cylinder engine mated to a smooth as silk manual tranny.
I drove it around town in traffic, parking, grocery shopping, and through the drive-thru. And another 100 miles on IH-35. Like a motorcycle, the Miata is small, and makes you think when you get up on the big road. Trucks are big, pickup trucks and SUVs are big. Drive accordingly.
At an MSRP of $32,000 and a sticker price just over $34,000, (including Nappa Leather and destination), it’s not cheap. And it will set you back an extra $1250 – the EPA says – over five years when compared to others in its subcompact segment. And probably even more than that with the price of gas today.
It’s not a family car, but then, it’s not supposed to be. If what you’re looking for is fun, Mazda’s Miata is the definition of fun. And unlike a motorcycle, when the forecast is rain you don’t have to park under a bridge…a lot to be said for that.