Photography by: ©2014 Toni Avery & Ron Avery
Nowadays it’s hard to find anything as much fun as the Miata for the money. Sure there’s always the more expensive option of the BMW Z4, but then you’re dealing with BMW parts and service, which can get very expensive. If you want something for under $35,000 with a pure sports car feel and the benefit of Japanese engineering, the Miata is hard to beat.
In terms of drivability, it’s seriously one of the most fun cars on the road. While it isn’t fast it’s sure quick. Tossing it around a canyon or just driving to the grocery store, it’s a ton of fun. Having the option of dropping the top in about 12 seconds, especially in SoCal, makes enjoying the drive even easier.
Mazda makes one of the best manual gearboxes in the business, next to BMW, and it sure shows in the Miata. Rowing your own gears is one of the most satisfying things you can do in a sports car. Thanks to the Miata’s simple and light nature, shifting never gets old.
Of course sitting in traffic anywhere, especially on the 405 freeway, can get old really quick. But even in the worst traffic the Miata got relatively good gas mileage. Throughout my week with the car I averaged 23 MPG all around town (canyon driving, city driving and even freeway traffic driving). The car does have a tiny 10-gallon tank so gas seems to evaporate pretty quickly. When you do pull up to the pump even at a quarter tank left and filling with premium fuel you probably won’t spend more than $32-$34 with the way current gas prices are going.
Have a family of four? This car isn’t for you. Sure, if the wife has a mini van and your lease is up the Miata deserves a second look. I don’t see the fact that the Miata has two seats a deficit, rather it’s keeping the sports car market alive in a world growing with dual-clutch transmissions and battery-powered brains.
I took the car to the grocery store and Target the first weekend I had it and fit about 4 bags comfortably in the trunk with room for at least two more. Keep in mind that the trunk had no car cover (I’ve got one in my trunk) and emergency roadside kits etc., which are always a good idea.
If you can only have one car and don’t have a couple of kids, a dog and furniture to tote around then the Miata is all the car you’ll need. There will be those who say having a two seat car as your only isn’t practical…well I beg to differ.
Exterior Appearance and features:
Since the launch of the NC Miata in 2006 the outside appearance hasn’t changed much. A slight change to the front grille and the addition of a retractable hardtop are the most notable changes. The GT is differentiated from the Sport and Club models with the slight upgrade of chrome insert door handles and the power retractable hardtop in matching body color.
In terms of styling, the car looks sporty without trying too hard, simple without looking cheap and cute without being girly. While I love the cars appearance, evidence to the fact that I bought one, it’s definitely time for a fresh look and the ND will surely provide that. I feel that the ND will be an evolution not a revolution. The rounded edges of the NC are a little dated and the silver rims just don’t work well with the car especially in the color I was provided. I’m sure Miata GT owners would be all over it if Mazda offered an optional darker rim. It just adds a sleeker look to the car. But this is just my opinion.
The xenon headlights make night driving easy in addition to the worry-free Keyless Entry System (part of the premium package). And while the Suspension Package isn’t technically an exterior feature I have to bring it up. As mentioned in my Mulholland Highway test article, the Bilstein shocks (sport tuned suspension and limited slip differential are also offered in this package) are the way to go if you’re looking for the sporty edge of the Club but want the creature comforts that the GT offers. They aren’t just for a sportier ride but also for a less bumpy one. For me, they are a must.
Interior Appearance and features:
Yes, the interior of the Miata is quite plasticy. That’s been one of the biggest complaints for some time from buyers and enthusiasts with the ND solving this issue next year. The Grand Touring solves a little of that with leather seats, some leather on the door panels, on the gear shifter, and wrapped around the piece that covers the cup holders, brushed metal insert on the interior door handles and of course those awesome seat heaters. There are several levels of heat the driver and passenger can choose from and even with the top down your back stays pretty warm. But other than that the interior is pretty near the same as my Club.
The GT offers a Bluetooth hands-free system that works pretty well with controls on the steering wheel. I even used the map feature on my iPhone for guidance, which worked through the cars speakers. And another cool feature that I don’t have on my Club is satellite radio. I took full advantage of this the entire week and felt quite spoiled when I had to give it back.
From the inside of the car the exhaust noise is quite manageable with the top up. And I spent the entire time trying to figure out why this Miata was quieter inside than my Club and it came to me as I drove my Club for the first time in weeks. The exhaust. I’ve installed a Magnaflow; sounds awesome but with the top up it’s a little noisy, but a good noisy.
Buy one. Borrow a friends or just go for a long test drive at your local dealer. If you’ve been thinking about a new fun sports car but don’t have a ton to spend you can’t go wrong with the Miata. I have a feeling right before the ND comes out and even after, NC prices will be so low it’ll be hard to say no. The world would be a much happier place if everyone experienced time behind the wheel of a Miata. A funny thing happens when you do; a smile you can’t seem to contain or make go away.
GirlsDriveFastToo gives the 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring an overall rating of (out of 5 total):