This weeks driving fun was provided by the Mazda Miata MX-5. I really liked the color combo with mahogany paint and beige top and interior. Real pretty. But it wasn’t all good news. I tested the 1999 model year about two years ago and it is evident that either Mazda doesn’t read my column or they don’t care what drivers might complain about.
Example: two years ago I commented on the terrible placement of the remote controls for the trunk and gas lid releases. They are still poorly placed in the rear part of the console storage compartment. And to add insult to injury, they make you reach awkwardly to the rear of the lid to open it in the first place. Hello! Anyone home. However on the plus side they made the car more rigid and I didn’t notice that tinny sound when the doors or trunk are closed.
This special edition includes wood trim including the steering wheel. Sorry but although I like wood sweaty hands cause the wheel to be slippery. I don’t know about you but I don’t wear leather gloves when I drive. A leather wrapped wheel is much better or wood on only about 25% of the wheel like that of Cadillac’s design. I also didn’t care for the design of the air conditioning ducts, as they were hard to adjust. I found myself fiddling with then constantly.
There wasn’t a lot of high tech stuff, but this like most cars today have radio controls that are digital when a simple knob for station selection or tone and balance would be better. It reminds me of a recent telephone conversation where I told the person on the other end of the satellite connection to write down a phone number. He said, “wait I have to boot my Palm Pilot.” Say what, have you ever heard of paper and pencil? I’m in a hurry. We need to balance technology with practicality.
Other concerns include – who will drive this Pea popper, tiny car where the speedometer goes up to 150 mph? I don’t think I want my kid driving this 2300 lb. car at those speeds.
On a positive note, I appreciated the tiny trunk for our trek to Tahoe since “She” couldn’t take too much stuff she didn’t need anyway. But “She” managed to fill the space behind the seat, where the top stows, so we couldn’t put the top down. I also loved driving this sports car in the mountains because I love that “G-force” feeling around the curves…. in the road, that is. It has lots of power and even passing slower traffic was no problem. I found the 6-speed shifter passable but it could be better.
If you’re thinking this will bring out the kid in you, it will, only if you are a kid. Older drivers will experience back pain getting in and out, which is similar to getting into a “Go Cart” or a Kayak for you water sports folks. So if you’re claustrophobic you’re likely to have an instant attack. And if you intend to drive long distances, your tousch will tire long before you have to stop for gas.
Handling & Performance:
Great! But, what do you expect from a car built so low to the ground snakes can crawl in easier than people.
I like it. It has progressed nicely since its introduction over 10 years ago.
Fit and Finish:
Much improved even over last years model.
Pretty basic but enough.
More than the price tag should be for this sports car, especially when compared with the Mitsubishi Eclipse.
Look at the Mitsubishi Eclipse. For the same money you’ll get a back seat without losing the sports car feel, and a one-button power top feature. Personally, with the possible exception of the Honda S2000, I don’t think it fits in the class and performance of the competition listed below from either a performance or price position. However they are all two seater sports cars. But then, so is a Ferrari.
BMW Z3 $31,300-36,900, Honda S2000 $32,000, Mercedes SLK $38,900-43,900, Mitsubishi Eclipse $25,237, Porsche Boxster $41,430-49,930, Toyota MR2 Spyder $23,098.
Good gas mileage, fun to drive, adequate performance, top is easy to put up and down.
Marginal comfort from the seats on long trips, too much money for the car, small trunk, some controls poorly placed, difficult shifter and poor air conditioning ducts.
1.8 liter 4-cylinder 140 horsepower engine, 6-speed manual transmission, rear wheel drive, power 4-wheel disc brakes, leather seats, stereo with clock and CD, power windows, door locks and mirrors, cruise control, 15” polished alloy wheels, halogen headlights, dual air bags, wood steering wheel and shift knob and parking brake handle and wood center panel, power antenna.
24 City and 29 Highway MPG.