Review: Mazda MX-5 (3 months on)

Photo: Tan leather interior.

So it’s been three months since I bought the MX-5, and I figured it was about time I wrote some kind of review of my experience thus far.

I might aswell come right out and admit that I love this vehicle. People say a lot of things about the MX-5, Miata, or whatever you want to call it (officially, it’s a Miata MX-5 in North America now, was originally the Miata NA, was an MX-5 in parts of Europe…and had lots of other combinations before Mazda standardized them on a global basis for the new 2006 model that I have…a complete redesign over all of the ones that came before. Largely identical to the 2007/2008 model), but my opinion is that there’s no better bang-for-buck sportscar on the market that even comes close. It drives like a dream, handles superbly well, is reasonably economical on gas…oh, and it has enough cup holders for even the most hardened of coffee drinkers.

Photo: Silly vanity plate.

I bought my MX-5 in July as a pining exercise. I was dealing with a breakup, and needed to cheer myself up with some kind of expensive, highly impulsive purchase. I’d already tried regular retail remedies (heck, I got my US license within a week of having said breakup as a means to get the heck out of Cambridge and drive completely randomly in remote desserts of California…I was perhaps, just a little bit upset), but they didn’t quite cut it, on any level whatsoever. So I went shopping one Saturday afternoon. I looked on a certain high profile automobile trading website, found a few local dealers, and got a rental car to drive up to Lynn in. Atlantic weren’t the first place that I went to, and I’m not sure they’re the best dealer (not too bad), however they did have a couple of under one year old MX-5s sitting in their lot.

Photo: Hats not included.

I took a regular Miata for a test drive (I’d driven automatic versions thereof, but not the manual), then the 6-speed GT model. Although the regular Miata was a very nice car, it’s nothing like the GT. That thing kicks some ass. The regular, 5 speed model just lacks power, whereas the 6-speed model weighs practically nothing, and packs enough power to make driving fun (zoom zoom!), without going nuts. Sure, if it’s different if there’s a second person in the car with me – you can feel the difference – but I tend to drive alone these days anyway ;-) I spent an hour test driving two MX-5s, having driven around remote regions of California in several rental Miatas just weeks earlier, then spent several more hours negotiating terms with the dealer, before I finally signed on the spot. I’ve never done anything quite like that…but I was in the right mood to waste a lot of money cheering myself up at the time!

Photo: Grandmother supplied separately.

Probably the most embarassing problem I’ve had with the car so far is not being able to start it. I’ve never owned a North American manual car before – and had never driven a left-hand-drive manual before I took the test drives (learning on the spot like that is kind of fun) – so I didn’t know that you need to depress the clutch in order to start it. It’s a hysterical safety thing, since they don’t bother to teach people how to drive properly here (always start it in neutral), but I didn’t know about that when I was sitting at the dealer in my new car, unable to start it, growing redder in the face every second. Kind of minor in comparison with the two times I’ve managed to have the battery drained (the Xenon headlights drain the battery extremely quickly when on). Yes, you may laugh, indeed.

The driving experience in this thing is awesome. It’s tiny, very nimble, and handles very well. It is, however, also a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, and so one does have to exercise a little restraint during inclement weather…and we get more than enough incemental weather in New England during the winter (this probably means that I won’t drive into the office if it’s snowing…at all). On the whole though, aside from learning about hydroplaning one afternoon during a torrential rain storm, I find it more than acceptable. This thing can actually turn – you know, when the wheels move, and you physically go around a corner – unlike many of the “American” cars on the market nobody wants to buy. Ever wander why US car makers are doing so badly? (oh, and, random example, the Mustang is a giant joke in comparison, and no cheaper…horrible use of plastic all over the place). Hint: the Japanese make better cars. It’s got far less to do with Union issues and trying to cut people’s wages/benefits than quality ones.

Photo: Morning constitutional distraction.

By far the biggest problem so far has been other drivers. Massachusetts drivers are some of the worst that I’ve seen – and I’ve been to India, and Italy (so I’ve seen extremely bad driving examples more than enough times). They don’t signal. They don’t have *any* patience. And they don’t like to think, in general, for longer than they possibly have to in case it hurts. Actually, scratch that comment about signalling – they don’t *want* to signal. It’s a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you might be thinking about other people and, just possibly, considering not having an accident. Clearly it’s all too much for drivers around here – who’ve only had to deal with a pathetic 9 minute driving test in some cases (like my test) – to handle. This is one of the many reasons why I don’t like to drive *in* Cambridge or Boston. It helps inspire me to walk more.

I’ll add more comments as I discover them, but in general, I would highly recommend this vehicle. I wholeheartedly agree with Mazda…

Zoom Zoom!


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