Just don’t mess with success
Review. With a new MX-5 on the horizon, let’s hope Mazda sticks with its Miata formula for fun and affordability
Nobody rocks the concept of a fun and affordable two-seat roadster quite like Mazda. Then again, nobody else really tries anymore.
And who could blame them? Why invest in a separate platform, which is hard to share with other vehicles, for a shrinking pool of buyers?
These cars don’t exude the prestige they used to in North America and Europe, as crossovers continue their unrelenting path to complete vehicle domination. And there isn’t much demand for them in China and other emerging markets, perhaps defeated by concerns about the weather, traffic and pollution, and a preference among the rich to be chauffeured rather than drive themselves around.
All of which makes the MX-5 even more precious to those of us who still enjoy driving.
From its inception in 1990, the Miata was conceived as a car to provide the most driving joy per dollar, by keeping engine size and power in check, and concentrating on lightness, balance, driver feedback and simplicity.
And although the car was renamed the MX-5 in 2006, Mazda hasn’t strayed from the script since, including the all-new 2016 MX-5, which is waiting in the wings.
Compared to most every- thing else on the road, the Miata/MX-5 is a small and precise gem. And the 2015 25th-anniversary edition is even more gem-like, with some elegant cosmetic touches, and a knockout Soul Red Micra paint job.
With just 100 anniversary editions available in Canada, they sold out months ago, but you can still buy the equally impressive 2014 GT model.
The MX-5 offers very light and agile handling. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine likes to rev, but takes premium fuel. Its 167 horsepower are not overwhelm- ing, but everything feels faster when you’re this low and connected to the pavement. And the manual gearbox is one of the most satisfying to use in autodom.
The ride is not as stiff as you might expect, because it doesn’t need a stiff suspension for handling, but it is a bit noisy on the highway.
The cabin is tight, but cosy, with miniature controls and little storage space. Your legs go straight out, with no bend to the knee.
The optional power hardtop roof is slick, but the manual top is super light and easy to use. The trunk is small but surprisingly useful.
Net result: The MX-5 is one very fine, two-seat, convertible sports car.
The cabin is tight but cosy, with miniature controls and little storage space.