2017 Mazda Miata

We were pulling into the Auto Mall intent on checking out a Nissan Leaf or some other family-mobile when we noticed that our daughter was sleeping.  At about that same moment I saw a guy taking a Miata out for a test drive and I immediately knew that I had to drive one.

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I didn’t care which trim level the car was, or whether it was a targa top or convertible, as long as it had the 6-speed manual gearbox.  The car I ended up driving was a red soft top with cloth seats.  It had the premium audio system with the larger screen, but I didn’t bother turning it on.

The first thing I noticed was the low seating position.  Similar to a Boxter or BRZ.  The gear changes were nicely weighted.  Short throws.  Just chunky enough to be satisfying.  Pedal position was good.

Some cars just feel right when you drive them.  You’ll sit in them and it feels like you’re putting them on instead of sitting on top of them.  Getting them to do what you want is effortless — a smooth start from a standstill, a snappy effortless downshift or two, settling into a corner just right and accelerating out while rotating from the torque at the rear.  The Miata was one of these.  Now I know why they never stopped making them.

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The Miata isn’t fast with a 0-60 of about 6 seconds, and the electric-assist steering actually didn’t feel particularly communicative.  The suspension was a bit on the soft side, soaking up bumps nicely, but also feeling less sporty than I had anticipated.  But somehow, via some magic combination of light weight, suspension geometry, weight distribution, and other voodoo, the Miata was nothing less than an absolute blast to drive.

On-center steering feel is a bit vague, but as soon as you turn-in the rear tucks in and wants to rotate around you.  The engine is responsive and smooth.  Not frantic, but still pulling you along at a nice clip without seeming strained.  It’s not razor sharp but incredibly poised.

I kind of wanted one as I left the dealership.

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