Friday, January 30, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Miata marks 25 years of fun, spirited driving

By
From page C1 | May 09, 2014 |

Twenty-five years after its debut as a lightweight, fun-to-drive, sporty roadster, the Mazda MX-5 Miata still travels a road all its own.

With a starting retail price of less than $25,000, the rear-wheel drive Miata is arguably the most affordable two-seat sportster in the United States.

Only the diminutive and decidedly not sporty, 70-horsepower, 2014 Smart fortwo Passion Cabriolet, with a starting retail price of $18,680, has a lower starting price for a two-seater.

With just a few electronic amenities offered, the Miata stays true to its heritage — a car to drive and to enjoy driving, not a car to inhabit while talking on the cell phone and following programmed directions from an in-car navigation system.

In fact, today’s Miata doesn’t offer a factory navigation system or a large, colorful display screen for the dashboard. Some versions of Miata don’t have Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, either. And forget about finding a heated steering wheel or seats with power adjustments.

The 167-horsepower Miata is, simply, all about driving pleasure and how a low-to-the-ground car happily hugs the pavement, how it readily scoots forward and how it can make a driver feel at one with the vehicle.

No wonder the Miata has long been sought after by weekend racers who find the lightweight two-seater to be an impressive racetrack competitor.

Perhaps best of all, the 2014 Miata is a recommended buy of Consumer Reports, where predicted reliability is average.

Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $24,515 is for a base, 2014 Miata with 2-liter, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission.

The lowest starting retail price for a 2014 Miata with six-speed automatic is $26,775.

Standard equipment on base Miatas includes a manually operated vinyl soft top that comes in black only, manually adjustable cloth-covered seats, manual air conditioning, manual door locks, mesh wind blocker and 16-inch tires.

Buyers getting an uplevel Miata add automatically controlled air conditioning, power door locks, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise control buttons, 17-inch tires, keyless remote entry and even the choice of power-operated hardtop roof, among other things.

In comparison, the rear-wheel drive, 2014 BMW Z4 sDrive28i roadster has a starting retail price of $49,875 with turbocharged, 240-horsepower four cylinder and six-speed manual. Standard equipment includes keyless entry, power adjustable seats, power retractable hardtop roof, automatic climate control, Bluetooth, BMW’s SensaTec upholstery that looks like a rich vinyl, 17-inch tires and three suspension settings, among other things. A navigation system is an option in the Z4.

Meantime, the rear-wheel drive, 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe has a starting MSRP, including destination charge of $53,995 with 455-horsepower V-8 and seven-speed manual. The base Corvette includes removable carbon fiber roof panel, dual-zone, automatic climate control, keyless access, power door locks, rearview camera and 18-inch tires, among other things.

Over the years, there were other affordable competitors to the Miata, including the Toyota MR2, Honda S2000 and Pontiac Solstice. But they didn’t last.

And truthfully, Miata sales in the United States, which peaked at nearly 36,000 in 1990, have steadily declined and totaled just 5,780 in calendar 2013.

With styling reminiscent of the beloved British and Italian roadsters of the 1950s and ’60s, the Miata — with relatively long hood and short rear deck holding a small, 5.3-cubic-foot trunk — is instantly recognizable.

Today’s Miata, at 13.1 feet from bumper to bumper, is a tad longer than the original that measured less than 13 feet in length. But weight is tightly controlled at just 2,610 pounds for a base car.

Widthwise, the Miata interior can still feel a bit snug for larger-sized folks. As an example, a couple of heavyset gentlemen inside can feel cozy and maybe hemmed in.

But the Miata’s 43.1 inches of legroom are more than what’s expected, while headroom of 37.4 inches is akin to what’s found in the back seat of a 2014 Honda Civic sedan.

Headroom shouldn’t be too much of a worry, though, because the appeal of the Miata is driving with the top down.

The test 2014 Miata, an uplevel Club model with power-operated hard top, felt somewhat Spartan inside as seats had to be adjusted by hand and the dashboard looked barebones compared with other cars with oodles of buttons and large display screens.

But pleasing engines sounds and the Miata’s eager, sprightly personality soon proved to be a tonic to a driving enthusiast.

The Miata’s small diameter steering wheel felt just right. Steering response was quick. The shifter had short, crisp throws — and suddenly the driver was all into the driving and the intimate sensations of road, open air and movement.

The reverie came to a screeching halt, however, when taller, blocky vehicles — which basically include everything from Cadillac Escalades to Toyota Corollas — got in front. Then, the driver stared at tailpipes and rear bumpers.

Another noticeable issue: The Miata’s ride is loud from road noise and the high revs of the double overhead cam four cylinder. Peak torque of 140 foot-pounds comes at 5,000 rpm.

With body motions closely controlled, the sporty ride of the Miata over rough pavement and manhole covers also may wear on some.

Many consumers are shocked to find the 2014 Miata’s fuel economy is lackluster for a car that carries only two people.

In fact, the U.S. government fuel mileage ratings for a 2014 Miata are just 21 to 22 miles per gallon in city travel and 28 mpg on the highway. These numbers are less than the ratings for the 2014 Mazda2 and Mazda3, which have seats for five.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Suspected Ebola patient being treated at UCD Med Center

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

     
    Town hall focuses on Coordinated Care Initiative

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

    Parents will get tools to help their children thrive in school

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Stanford University to get $50 million to produce vaccines

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Two more cases of measles in Northern California in children

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Dartmouth bans hard liquor

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A2

     
    Walkers head out three times weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3Comments are off for this post

    Free tax preparation service begins Monday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Vote for your favorites in Readers’ Choice poll

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    No bare bottoms, thanks to CommuniCare’s Diaper Drive

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Storyteller relies on nature as his subject on Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Still time to purchase tickets for DHS Cabaret

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    All voices welcome at sing-along Wednesday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Great Chefs Program will feature Mulvaney

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Take a photo tour of Cuba at Flyway Nights talk

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

     
    February science fun set at Explorit

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    See wigeons, curlews and meadowlarks at city wetlands

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Forum

    Time for bed … with Grandma

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Protect root zone to save trees

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Weigh quality of life, density

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Olive expert joins St. James event

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    We’re grateful for bingo proceeds

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

     
    A ‘new deal’ for the WPA building

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    .

    Sports

    Mustangs hold off UCD women

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UCD men set new school D-I era win record

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD has another tough football schedule in 2015

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Gould’s influence felt mightily in recent Super Bowls

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Sharks double up Ducks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Watney, Woods start slow at TPC Scottsdale

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    Recall that first Aggie TV game, national title?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘Song of the Sea’ is an enchanting fable

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    ‘Artist’s Connection’ launches on DCTV

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

     
    Gross’ paintings highlight a slice of Northern California

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    February show at YoloArts’ Gallery 625 is ‘Food for Thought’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, January 30, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: A9