:7 An­gus Macken­zie: In­ter­na­tional Bureau Chief Al­ways tends to punch above its weight. Such a joy to drive—play­ful, en­ter­tain­ing, fun. More power amps the fun fac­tor.”

Motor Trend - - 2018 Best Driver’s Car - Words Frank Markus

We’ve shown a lot of BDC love for the Mi­ata, lap­ping six of them over the years. Only the Viper, Corvette, and 911 have gar­nered more in­vi­ta­tions. The world’s best-sell­ing road­ster has reached the podium twice, fin­ish­ing third in 2009 and 2015. Ev­ery time this wee David takes on a field of Go­liaths, we gush about its light, nim­ble chas­sis, ex­cuse its lack of head­line­grab­bing horse­power, and crab about its ex­ces­sive body roll. When we heard the light­weight Club model was get­ting the RF targa’s stiff­ened rear sus­pen­sion plus an en­gine re­tune with 26 more horses, we ea­gerly in­vited it and raised our hopes that this might be the Mi­ata’s year.

“It’s that close to Best Driver’s Car,” Randy Pobst de­clared. “Two things: It rolls too much, and it over­steers all the time. I have fun with that, but it’s a bet­ter driver’s car if it’s bal­anced.” The over­steer is­sue is new, and it’s not power over­steer, so maybe those re­vised rear sus­penders need fine-tun­ing. The en­gine is trans­formed, pulling hard to its higher 7,500-rpm red­line in­stead of pe­ter­ing out be­fore 6,000 rpm. It’s only a tenth quicker through the quar­ter mile, but it feels lustier and re­quires less shift­ing. Pobst used that mod­est power bump and slidey rear to shave 2.21 sec­onds off the 2016 Club model’s lap time, though at that pace he faded the brakes in four laps—an­other new is­sue.

Ed­i­to­rial opin­ions were mixed on Route 198. Scott Evans was in love. “The stiffer rear sus­pen­sion still moves and leans with you but doesn’t bang down on its bump stops,” he said. “It makes you feel like you’re go­ing so much faster.” Jethro Bov­ing­don dis­agreed: “It feels ter­rific when set­tled un­der some cor­ner­ing force but seems all at sea dur­ing the tran­si­tional phases.” He and Mark Rechtin found the steer­ing a bit vague. Ed Loh took is­sue with ag­gres­sive sta­bil­ity con­trols that in­ter­vened of­fi­ciously to rein in that in­her­ent over­steer and made things a bit ner­vous. But a few more tweaks, and the MX-5 might have re­turned to the podium.

MONOMODE The cozy Mi­ata cock­pit re­quires no mode-knob twid­dling. Sporty is its one mode. It’s also su­per easy to brace oneself into this seat and against the con­sole and door so as to feel at one with the ma­chine.

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