Ah, Miata. Mazda’s petite contribution to the auto world has been making us say “aww” for 21 years now. But underneath its puppy dog exterior lies a true sports car. Miata’s been receiving high praise amidst subtle jokes (it’s not a girly car) since its introduction to the mean streets in 1989. Jeremy Clarkson loves it, as well as almost 400,000 (389,000 to be exact) US buyers. We account for about 45% of Miatas sold worldwide.
How does the Miata, Mx5, Roadster, whatever you want to call it, stride the center stripes between novelty and icon?
It’s all about feel.
Maybe it’s the fact that Miata is the perfect starter sports car. It’s got adequate engine, it’s economically viable, relatively low risk, and maybe the most important ‘sports car’ attribute: it’s fun to drive.
It looks innocent, but 2012 Miata’s packing a nice punch, with 167 HP and 140 lbs. of torque on its manual transmission Sport, Touring and Grand Touring models. If you don’t want the work (and fun) of changing gears, the automatic frees 9 stallions to produce 158 HP, still more than adequate punch for its 2542 pound frame.
Size doesn’t not matter.
The manual versions of Miata tap the scales at 2480 pounds, 267 less than Honda Civic (at 140 HP) and 752 less than Nissan 370Z, although to be fair, 370Z pushes 300 plus HP. Miata is a featherweight, but light chassis mean responsive, zippy driving.
And since we’re talking size, remember that this ride isn’t just light, it’s small everywhere. It’s fit for two, just make sure those two people aren’t 200 plus pounds.
Miata’s image radiates warm weathered fun, so it’s all convertible, regardless of whether or not you prefer wind socked hair. You can cover up for comfort; choose between soft top or power retractable hard top with no pit stopping for rain squalls.
Start me up.
Miata offers an accessible sports car that novice speed racers can ease in to. Save for driving snow storms, Miata just wants to get out and play. And it wants to take you with it.
You won’t feel bad using your Miata with 22 MPG city and 28 highway for the 5 speed manual transmission, tops in its class. Drop to 21 MPG city for the 6 speed manual/automatic versions.
Go Granny go!
A 2010 Truecar.com survey found that only 5.3% of Miata owners are under 35 years old. Maybe it’s hard to let go of that first thrill ride.
Add the fact that the basic Miata Sport starts at $23,110 (plus $795 destination charge) and there isn’t a more economic sports car within price range.
Two months ago, (February 2011) Mazda produced its 900,000th Miata. It is the best-selling two seat convertible of all time. Give Miata the credit it deserves.
Whether a first fling or last gasp ride, it doesn’t matter. Miata captures the simple fun of driving at a simple price. That’s not cute, that’s beautiful.