The Mazda MX-5 has not lost its way, even after 30 years
Pure motoring joy.
After writing An Ode to the Roadster, I had to get my own Miata. The joy of a compact, easy yet rewarding car to drive lured me in. The problem was finding exactly what I wanted.
When I bought my GTI, I had told myself I needed a spacious hatchback, that I'd use the utility of it often. I wasn't even considering such a small, impractical car like a roadster. It was out the window, my MR2 was impractical and I didn't need to face that again.
I rarely used the GTI as a utility vehicle. I utilized its sportiness, its dynamics on the road or on the track. Sure, it was helpful to have the space on occasion, but far too little times to be considered a necessity. After all, I buy and sell cheap cars on occasion and I can find myself a small SUV of sorts to have sitting around in case I need the capacity.
While the MX-5 isn't exactly a rare car, certain trim levels draw more attention than others; certain options command a premium. The prices were all over for what I wanted, everyone who wants to push these cars wants the Club trim level over the base Sport or cushy Grand Touring.
Naturally, I was in search of a Club.
I didn't need the frills of the Brembo/BBS package; while it's a nice combo I can upgrade the brakes later on and I can throw some lighter wheels on that I like better than the factory option ones. I was after the limited-slip rear differential and Bilstein dampers on all four corners.
The car I ended up with was right up my alley; I'm not one to buy low mileage vehicles often and this 2016 MX-5 is no outlier with over 80,000 miles on the clock. Being that the vehicle comes from a brand known for its longevity, I wasn't afraid of it. Especially when it was listed at thousands below the normal asking price of a similarly equipped car.
Now, almost four months in and ten thousand miles in, I can say I made the right decision. The only time I found myself in need of a larger was when unexpectedly moving my tools from one workplace to another, but even then the GTI would not have been able to make that move. Luckily I was able to borrow a friend's Hilux and get that done.
Day-to-day usage, such as grocery store runs, commuting, trips to some local driving roads, are better in the Miata. I can only think of two things I really don't care for on the Miata; the road noise with the top up is a bit loud, and at the beginning I didn't have Apple CarPlay, which was fixed with a simple OEM module that took all of an hour to install. Nothing major.
Photo credits to s.j.media.
The MX-5 has always been a driver's car. It has always put driving dynamics over other aspects that most attribute to a practical vehicle. Mazda engineers wanted a vehicle that emulates the feel of an old British roadster such as a Triumph or MG, but without the mechanical unreliability that comes with the name.
They created just that, but they still created what can be a practical vehicle.
Can a Miata be practical for someone who has kids, has to haul things, anything along those lines? No, it really can't be. But for someone like me, that doesn't have children, doesn't haul things on a regular basis, it can be practical if you have the right mindset. I already pack light if I travel, and my grocery store trips aren't very large. So, a Miata holds a practical purpose for me. Out of my two vehicles, it is the most practical.
The compromises made for this vehicle are beyond worth the smile it brings to my face. I've made three trips to the mountains with it at this point, and it hasn't skipped a beat. It pushes you to be a better driver, and if you leave the driver aids on it doesn't interfere unless it absolutely has to. It lets you make mistakes, but doesn't let you get hurt. It begs you to get the tires warm, to throw it into the next turn.
It is a car that was made with driving first, everything else second.
When paired with a set of grippy tires and some decent brake pads, it has no trouble hanging in the turns with cars that overpower it by 300-400HP, as was the case with the M5 and Mustang GTs pictured. Sure, it stood no chance in a straight line, but you don't buy a car like this asking it to.
The ND MX-5 specifically reaches back to the days of the NA/NB chassis, such as the one I drove for the prior article. Having driven that chassis, the ND feels like what a factory fresh NB would have, plus more. It's almost unheard of to have this sort of car, one that sticks to its roots while gaining modern safety equipment, while gaining virtually no weight. If you throw the NC into the mix, it actually lost weight with the changes.
Mazda never lost their way with the MX-5, and the ND generation is a true testament to that. Here's to another 30 years of motoring from Mazda.
Photo credits to s.j.media.