THE INTERNET IS RIGHT
Back in February, my girlfriend decided that it was time to move from her trusty and economical Smart and get one of her dream cars... Within the 6 thousand price range, of course. She, like me, has a bit of a preference for cheap and old Japanese cars, being the Nissan S13 on the top of the list.
Those "cheap and old Japanese cars" are not so cheap anymore.
The S13 was way out of the price range.
Next on the list was the MKIII Supra. The price for a not "so bad one" was in our bracket but then we made numbers. My 1.8 Celica can be quite thirsty outside the highway and her next car was supposed to be the next daily. Something fun, kind of practical but that would also allow her to save money in the long term. The Supra was out.
At this point, we decided to ditch the practicality. We have the Celica for that.
That would take us to her (and the Internet's) favourite two-seater: the Miata.
Come on, I legit thought that I would be able to find a decent MKI (because of pop-ups) example for that price. I mean I wasn't hoping to find a pristine, low mileage example but at least something that just needed "a bit of love".
The first one I phoned up was 5400€. The ad said, "don't bother me, I'm not in a hurry, etc". So I limited my phone questions to just know if it was worth it to even set up a meeting to see the car. It wasn't. After a few questions, he admitted the water drains were rusted.
The second option, 6500 euros. Blue, was looking okay-ish. No signs of dangerous rust, just needed a bit of love. Took it for a test drive, it felt... very used. I kind of expected that. A bit weird when the owner lowered the price to 5800 euros.
I lifted the bonnet and it seemed like it has been maintained by a blind monkey. Oil was everywhere that wasn't supposed to have oil and the radiator was hanging by wires. What made me very suspicious though, there was a lot of oil around the gearbox bell housing.
Before committing, we made the sensible decision to take the car to a workshop to have it inspected.
All that oil? a dust cover have broken at some point and splashed everything. All the rubber joints were drier than a German novel and everything seemed like it was waiting to snap. Also, the battery wasn't charging because it didn't want to start up after a few minutes of being the car off.
And the paint... Let's said that, instead of having "orange peel" it was closer to an orange who had an accident at some point.
It just didn't make sense to spend that money on that car. 1500, 2 grand? maybe, but not 5.
Honestly, everything was looking very grim. She started looking for second-gen Clios and 1980s Civics.
Those are great, don't get me wrong, but from my experience, you get over FWD cars pretty quick.
I started checking for NB Miatas (that's the second-gen) and this 90.000, Highland-green showed up for 5.000 euros. Tan leather interior, wooden steering wheel, replica wheels and two hood pins that I can't wrap my mind why would anyone do that to a streetcar.
Test drove it, everything was fine, took it to the mechanic, gave it his approval and just like that, she had a new car.
First Car Meet with the NB
Now you are up to date, let's jump into the actual review.
Miatas are every damn where on the internet. Every list of "great project cars" include one but, as happens with GTR's and Supras, they can be overhyped.
This particular one it's the 1.6 90hp version, open diff.
This may not sit well with the American reader but the power it's fine. This is not a car for highways. On mountain, twisty roads, you can floor it at every chance you get and hit that sweet top of the rev range and not even break the speed limit (70kph here... on most ones) and feel like you won't probably end in a ball of fire if you crash. I must admit that torque at the low range it's just not there. Maybe the 1.8 option it's a better one if you don't care about fuel consumption. But this has an easy solution on the NB, keep it over 4k. It really, really comes to life when you pass the 4 thousand rpm mark and you even feel a little bit of a push.
The gearbox, of course, it's great. It's tight. It rewards you if you can heel and toe.
Suspension is firm and combined with a car that weighs the same as a void in space, wherever you want to go, it goes.
The NB Miata certainly feels like a slightly bigger GoKart, but without breaking your ribs at every corner.
At this point, the only change I would make to the car is putting an LSD and it would be the perfect car.
I don't like convertibles. Maybe some classic ones, but most of the time even the hardtop can't save them but I think the NB looks like it was made to have a roof. So much that, even in the eternal spring that is Tenerife, we haven't driven the car topless yet since my girlfriend bought it.
The interior feels very modern and there isn't so much noise from the outside but, there are two things that bother me though:
1. The windows are so slow that it would be quicker to just break it and replace it for another one when you want to wind it back up. And the driver's doesn't automatically go down when you double press the button. You have to keep pressing all the way.
2. I don't know who designed the centre console compartment but he or she deserves a whole life of slightly infuriating accidents. Things like getting the sleeves caught up on the door handle every time they are in a hurry because that is how it feels trying to open that compartment. The latch is situated where your right elbow would rest, towards the driver. It's so far back that you either dismember your right arm trying to reach it or use your left hand while your right arm it's just there, in the middle, trying not to hinder in there. Oh, it also has a folding cupholder in there so if you put anything in there, you'll hit it at every gear change.
But that's about it. It's a very well balanced car in its stock form.
What other cars do you think the "hype" is deserved?