The Truth About Cars » mazda mx-5 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:48:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » mazda mx-5 New York 2014: 25 Years Of Miatas Wed, 16 Apr 2014 22:47:47 +0000 311A9585

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Mazda MX-5, Mazda brought out a number of historically significant Miatas. Some, like the Coupe Concept (above), the Mazdaspeed MX-5 and the Super 20 are well known.


But how about the 500,000th car produced, or the 1998 prototype that eventually became the 1999 Miata? They’re all in the gallery below.

311A9584 311A9585 311A9586 311A9588 311A9589 311A9592 311A9593 311A9595 311A9596 311A9598 311A9600 311A9601 311A9602 311A9603 311A9604 ]]> 23
New York 2014: Mazda Shows Next MX-5′s Chassis Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:02:55 +0000 2016-Mazda-mx5


Those wild rumors of Mazda doing a surprise debut of the next MX-5 turned out to be false – anyone with an understanding of modern automotive PR tactics knows that no launch is conducted without a relentless hype campaign. But at least they threw us a bone.

Mazda claims that this chassis, which underpins the next MX-5, will shed 220 lbs from the weight of the current car (which weighs in at around 2480 lbs), with an engine that sits lower and further back. The lighter weight, which is closer to that of the first-gen Miata, and the power bump from the new Skyactiv engine (assuming it’s the 2.0L 155 horsepower engine used in multiple cars) means the power-to-weight ratio should up in an appreciable manner.

For those who still want the current car (and judging by the sales figures, there’s not too many of you), Mazda has launched a new 25th anniversary edition of the MX-5. Only 100 units will be made available, in a special red-on-black paint scheme, with special alloy wheels and Bilstein dampers as standard.

]]> 18
Editorial: Don’t Get Your Hopes Up For A New Mazda MX-5 Debut Tue, 25 Mar 2014 15:20:06 +0000 450x301x06-2013-Mazda-MX-5-Miata-Club-Picture-courtesy-of-Murilee-Martin-450x301.jpg.pagespeed.ic.yyYjS-N1VZ

Mazda has some big news for Miata lovers at the New York Auto Show, with an exhibition of some of their favorite Miatas over the car’s 25 year history. Both myself (97 C Package, 2003 Shinsen) and Jack (former owner of a 93 ) will be attending, and we will make sure to get detailed photographs of everything – but don’t be surprised if we come back empty-handed when it comes to the 2015 MX-5.

The latest in a long line of silly rumors (diesel MX-5? puh-leeze) is that the new MX-5 will make a surprise debut at the New York Auto Show. As much as I’d love for this to happen, I am not getting my hopes up.

Why? Because Mazda doesn’t typically make big reveals at auto shows. The 3, 6 and CX-5 all made debuts on their own schedule, and for Mazda, this is a smart play. They are a small brand and don’t have a lot of money to spend on marketing. By launching them on their own terms, they can own whatever time slot they choose, rather than having to dole out big marketing bucks on fancy preview dinners or social media campaigns.

The New York Auto Show, while rising in importance, is also not the preeminent auto show to launch the new MX-5 at. A look at the debut calendar will also show what the MX-5 would potentially be up against: a new Dodge Challenger, Hyundai Sonata, Acura TLX and Chevrolet Trax (or other B-Crossover) are just some of the vehicles that the MX-5 would have to compete with for media and public attention. 25 years ago, the Miata’s debut at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show was a jolt of electricity to an auto market that had not seen a fresh new two-seat roadster in years. Today, the MX-5 is, frankly, an afterthought in the minds of the general public.

Based on Mazda’s past patterns of behavior, I’d say that they’ll launch the MX-5 when they are good and ready, and able to dominate the conversation around the car. If it’s going to be an auto show, then Tokyo or Detroit would be more fitting for such a major reveal.

Then again, I hope I’m wrong.

]]> 60
Anatomy Of A Rumor: There Won’t Be A Diesel MX-5 Thu, 09 May 2013 14:49:27 +0000 2011_Mazda_MX-5_PRHT_--_04-28-2011

God bless the blogosphere. All it takes is one throwaway remark for something to become a widely reported rumor heard ’round the world.

Autocar, a UK magazine that is fond of publishing sketches, conjecture and other wild-ass rumors in the best tradition of Fleet Street, published another piece on the upcoming Mazda MX-5 that included this paragraph

A diesel option is being considered, but the lightweight and high-revving capabilities of a petrol engine are more desirable to Mazda. There are also concerns over the market viability of a small diesel roadster, which might prove difficult to sell.

And that should be it, right? Autocar themselves basically debunked this ridiculous notion. Nope! Not wanting to be left behind in the race to the bottom to “get it first” the blogs picked it up en masse and reported it as fact. A Google search for “MX-5 Diesel” returns 2,200 results, which is 2,200 too many.

It should be obvious that this rumor is absolute bovine manure. A diesel engine is heavier than a gasoline engines, does not rev as freely and has a completely different character. It is everything that Mazda does not want in a lightweight sports car. Aside from the characteristics of the engine itself, the car would have to be engineered to carry a much heavier engine from the get-go, something that would have a negative impact on weight and handling targets.

A diesel may have been briefly considered at some point in the development process, but believe me, it is not happening. If it does, we won’t see it in North America. We’re more likely to see an army of automotive bloggers who aren’t ruled by the all-mighty click before we see an oil-burning MX-5.

]]> 29
Hachi Roku Drops The Top Fri, 01 Mar 2013 16:54:04 +0000

Ever try and play a round of golf as a Miata driver? From first hand experience, I can tell you it doesn’t work well. If you are lucky at manipulating large objects and have nothing else in the trunk, your golf bag might fit. God help you if you are giving a friend a lift to the course. One golf bag will go in the passenger footwell, the other will likely have to sit on the folded soft top, with the passenger’s arm holding the golf bag. Ask me how I know.

The long-rumored Toyota FT-86 convertible, seen here in concept form solves that problem. The hachi roku’s back seats aren’t really suitable for a full-size adult, let alone two of them, but like the Porsche 911, they can store golf clubs (or a helmet bag if you’re so inclined) with easy. Mechanically, the drop top Toyobaru is the same I think it looks fantastic, and I’d really like the iPhone holder shaped like two pistons. I’m allowed to have that in my Miata, right?

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-16 Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-15 Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-14 Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-13 Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-12 Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-11 Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-10 Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-09 Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-08 Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-07 Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-06 Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-05 Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-04 Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-03 Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-02 Scion-FRS-Convertible-concept-01 ]]> 49
Altezza Lights: A Retrospective Thu, 28 Feb 2013 14:00:02 +0000

There are some automotive fads that we can liken to the leather jacket; a contemporary piece of clothing that has endured the test of time to become a staple of one’s wardrobe. The Hoffmeister kink may be the best example of an aesthetic detail that’s achieved this sort of ubiquity and acceptance. On the other hand, certain things, like denim shirts for men and a certain style of empire waist tops that were once labeled “tit curtains” by an old lady friend of mine ( due to their unflattering drape on her trim figure) have faded away after a few seasons in the department stores. The automotive equivalent of these unfortunate footnotes may be the “Altezza” or clear lens tail lights that were all the rage a decade ago.

The Altezza tail lights originated on the Toyota Altezza, also known as the Lexus IS in markets outside of Japan. Despite being sold as a Lexus, the Altezza was designed in part by members of the hachi-roku’s development team – the original, Corolla AE86, that is. Numerous boy-racer touches, like the chronograph style gauge cluster, the drilled aluminum pedals and the oversized wheels lent the IS a youthful sensibility that may have explained why the car never really did well. As a pubescent boy with a subscription to Super Street magazine, I thought it was the coolest luxury car money could buy and promptly bugged my father to buy one. All it took was one trip to the Lexus dealer, with him in the front seat and me in the back directly behind him, to convince me that I didn’t want to spend a second longer than necessary in the unbearably cramped rear seat.

Of course, none of that stopped the aftermarket from cranking out Altezza lights by the trawler-load. All of a sudden, everything from the usual Honda Civics to dubbed-out SUVs to the awful GM J-Bodies with egregiously oxidized rear quarter panels sported these dreadful contraptions in place of the stock lamps. Even though my idea of a chick magnet was an old Nissan 240SX spray painted rattle can black with a fartcan muffler and a whistling blow-off valve, I knew that Altezza lights were a step too far, an undeniable sign of poor breeding and limited economic prospects. If only I knew that the most nubile women in my cohort were attracted to precisely that kind of guy, and not somebody who read Tom Wolfe and still bought their clothes at Old Navy.

It wasn’t long before Altezza lights began to appear on other cars. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution’s first U.S. bound iteration was the first to feature clear tail lights, and even Mazda’s timeless MX-5 roadster succumbed to this awful trend, a problem which was mercifully rectified during the mid-cycle refresh of 2009. By that time, the whole “Import 2NR” crowd had died off thanks to the recession, the “Fast & Furious” movies morphed into generic action/car-chase flicks and the Lexus IS had become a rather staid option in the sports sedan segment.

As of now, only one car comes to mind when clear tail lights are mentioned; the Scion FR-S. Despite my complaints about certain aspects of the car, I love the way it looks – save for those damn clear lights. Though I suppose, given the car’s lineage, it is a rather appropriate choice.

]]> 85
Review: 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Wed, 21 Nov 2012 17:30:42 +0000 Back when I reviewed the Scion FR-S, I wrapped up by saying I’d want to check out the latest Miata before I passed judgment on the bang-per-buck value of the Subuyopet. So, I called up the PR flacks at Mazda: “Hey, remember how I didn’t totally trash the CX-5 I wrote about in July? Yeah, so now the entire Toyo Cork Kogyo organization owes me, which means I need a Daimyo Class ticket on the next flight to Tokyo, a BLACK TUNED MX-5 waiting for me, and an honor guard of eight dekatoras to escort me as I cruise around looking for an Autozam AZ-1 to ship back to Denver.” Disappointingly, what I got was a US-market MX-5 Club Sport dropped off at a shuttle lot at George Bush International in Houston, to which I’d flown Misery Class in order to judge at the fifth annual Gator-O-Rama 24 Hours of LeMons. I spent three days with a True Red ’13 Miata, mostly shuttling between my hotel in Angleton, Texas, and the race at MSR Houston.
You figure, hey, weekend at a race track with a Miata— get ready for a bunch of racy-sounding gibberish about “turn-in” and “performance at the limit.” Trail braking. Not this time; this track was crowded with stuff like ’73 Dodge Coronets and 560SEC Benzes bashing into each other, no place for a nice uncaged press car with 90 miles on the clock. Anyway, you can sum up the Miata’s track performance— as determined by racers who, unlike me, actually know how to get around a road course in a hurry— for the last 23 model years in five words: at home on the track. Now that we’ve got that established, this review is going to focus on the real-worldliness of this little red devil.
When I arrived at MSR, I took the Miata around the pits to do a little bit of “pre-sweating” of cheaters, and to pose the car with its Mazda racing brethren. Here it is flanked by the whiskey-still-equipped RX-7 and collapsed-barn find RX-2 of Team Sensory Assault.
The Miata hasn’t bloated much during the last couple of decades, as can be seen in this portrait of the ’13 parked next to the ’91 of Team Nucking Futs. The first-year Miata (in 1990) had a curb weight of 2,105 pounds; the 2013 manual-transmission version weighs 2,480 pounds. By the standards of Model Bloat, that’s impressive.
To be honest, I felt a little uncomfortable showing up at this track in a red Miata. The 24 Hours of LeMons Supreme Court has been hard on Texas Miatas over the years, destroying a couple in the (now discontinued) People’s Curse and generally making life difficult for the Spec Miata guys who attempt to bring their Texan brand of Mazda-bashing behavior to LeMons racing.
As it turned out, just about everybody who has anything to do with road racing— even those Mazda racers I’ve busted for cheaty-ass Racing Beat suspension parts at past races— loves the sight of a new Miata.
However, being around car freaks and racers makes one forget that the Miata has a much different image in the eyes of ordinary Americans, particularly those in edge-city suburban areas full of mouth-breathing Internet Tough Guys in Tapout shirts. Never mind that the Miata will obliterate 95% of testosterone-pumped cars in a real race— what matters is that the Miata falls somewhere on the machismo spectrum between fern bars and Hello Kitty when it comes to its image among non-car expert types.
Not that I’ve ever given much of a damn about that sort of thing, but the perceived manliness (or lack thereof) of this car became an issue while driving it on the rural highways south of Houston. Never in my life have I experienced so much hyper-aggressive tailgating, angry gestures, brake checks, and general highway assholery than in the three days of driving a red Miata with manufacturer plates on Texas roads. Did some joker put an Obama sticker on this thing? I wondered after my first white-knuckle drive to the track with one SUV grille after another looming in the rear-view. Apparently the sight of a little red sports car simply enrages Texas exurbanite males, in a way that all the rental Aveos and Corollas I’ve driven on the same roads never has.
This image problem reminds me of the one faced by certain dog owners. This is my dog, Jackson. He is 70 pounds of solid muscle, bred from a long line of water retrievers, fast, tough, and fearless (he’s also sort of a knucklehead, but we won’t go there).
Jackson is also a Standard Poodle, a breed that image-conscious American males cannot own if they feel even slightly insecure about their own masculinity. Decades of horrible haircutting jobs on no-doubt-mortified show poodles by those scary dog-show types (or, even worse, the mad-genetic-scientist abomination of the miniature poodle) have done to the breed’s image what decades of boring 24-year-old dental hygienists have done to the Miata’s image.
Which isn’t to say that driving the Miata Club for several days didn’t turn me gayer than Rob Halford right away. Fortunately, we had the Leather Daddy cap from the Macho Man penalty handy, so I could dress appropriately.
Now, if you’re going to go shopping for Tom of Finland prints in your Miata and it’s raining— as it was just about the entire time I had the car— you’re going to want a convertible top that doesn’t leak.
Soft-top convertibles almost always leak, at least a little bit, it’s a big hassle to raise and lower them, and they let in a lot of wind noise when the top is up. This is not the case with the ’13 Miata; it takes about four seconds and very little effort to operate the top by hand while sitting in the driver’s seat. It never leaked a drop, regardless of how wild the storms got, and the top remained unperturbed by high winds while cruising at 80 MPH.
The HVAC system is unusually powerful for a Japanese car (Detroit always wins in this category, because Detroit automakers test their climate-control systems in places like Death Valley and Bemidji). This came in handy when I got soaked by rain during the performance of my LeMons Supreme Court duties; the Miata’s heater was able to dry out socks fairly quickly (because the car’s engine was kept running for hours at a time during repeated sock-drying cycles, I was not able to get personally verified fuel-economy figures for it… but I did manage to avoid catching a case of Houston Jungle Rot).
The Miata Club is the sporty version, with six-speed transmission (the base Miata Sport makes do with five), 17″ wheels, and a bunch of snazzy trim bits. For this, you pay $26,705 MSRP instead of the Sport’s $23,720.
The engine in all the manual-transmission ’13 Miatas is the same 167-horse DOHC 2-liter unit, and if British Leyland had been able to come up with anything even half this good, we’d all still be driving MGBs. 167 horsepower feels like plenty of power in this car, though I did get my doors blown off in a drag race with the rental Malibu driven by the rest of the LeMons HQ crew.
The 4.10 rear-axle gear ratio and 0.79:1 sixth gear means that the Miata’s engine is spinning pretty frantically during highway cruising, and I’m assuming that’s one of the main reasons for the not-so-great-for-a-2,400-pound-car fuel economy (claimed 21 city/28 highway). Steeper gears would mean an intolerable reduction in fun, so the fuel-economy penalty is worth paying.
The climate and sound-system controls use simple knobs and buttons. Everything here makes sense, though I can’t help wishing (once again) that the science-fiction aesthetic of 1980s Japanese car interiors would make a comeback.
The Miata is reasonably civilized on rough pavement and long highway drives, a bit less punitive— but also a bit less grippy— than I found the FR-S to be. The word that always comes up in Miata reviews, stretching back to the era of Operation Desert Storm, is “fun,” and it remains impossible to avoid this word when writing about the MX-5. As 11,498 before me have also written, this car manages to combine the joys of an old-timey Italian or British open sports car with the ability to use the thing as totally functional daily transportation.
My quick-and-dirty gauge for judging the level of corner-cutting build-quality shortcuts is a glance under the hood at the electrical connectors. The MX-5 uses pretty decent ones, though one of these days I’ll need to get a press car while I’m not working at a LeMons race, so I can have the time to pull a door panel and look at the stuff that always fails first.
There was one mosquito-in-my-ear irritation that I’d have to remedy, were I to buy this car. See the oil-pressure gauge dead in the center of the instrument cluster, where your eyes are going to be drawn every time you glance down? It’s actually an idiot light, i.e. it registers an “everything is OK” reading when the pressure switch is happy. The “idiot gauge” is quite common these days, if disappointing in a car that’s likely to get thrashed on a race track at some point in its career (racers usually don’t notice gauges other than the tach in the heat of battle, anyway, which is why LeMons racers tend to install gigantic oil-pressure idiot lights), but what really drives me nuts about this one is that it’s not a binary OK/PANIC idiot gauge. No, it’s a ternary OK/OK/PANIC gauge, with engine speed determining which of two readings the gauge will display. So, if I buy a new Miata— which I’m now dangerously tempted to do— I’m going to pull out the gauge cluster, disassemble it, replace the offending gauge with the guts from a normal analog gauge, and add the appropriate sender. Otherwise, the sight of the ternary idiot gauge would offend my geek sensibilities every time I drove the car.
What else? The sound system doesn’t pack enough bass for those of us who appreciate 21st-century levels of boom, but the aftermarket can solve that problem easily enough. Other than the image problem and resulting disapproval from dudes with anxieties about their own Perceived Testicular Heft (henceforth referred to as PTH), the who-gives-a-damn fuel-economy penalty from the nervous rear gear, and a couple of minor annoyances so small I feel petty just mentioning them, this car has nothing but pluses. In fact, it’s the only car I’ve ever reviewed that I could see myself buying new (I felt that way about another Mazda… until I took it to the gas station), though I’d probably save the three grand and get the 5-speed Sport. Used 6-speed transmissions and 17″ wheels are readily available for reasonable prices, any time you feel the need to upgrade.
So, the MX-5 Miata Club is slower on the road course and at the dragstrip than is the similarly priced FR-S, but it’s easier to drive like a hoon and not die, Mazda has put decades of work into making it hold up to track abuse, the aftermarket will provide every imaginable performance upgrade for the next century, and it’s just an all-around better-balanced package. If you must have space for more groceries and/or can’t stand the idea of living with a convertible, the FR-S makes slightly more sense.

29 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 27 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 28 - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 29 - Jackson the Standard Poodle in snow - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 29 - Caricature Mazda Miata - Picture courtesy of Car Town Forums 29 - Jackson the Standard Poodle - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 30 - Mazda Miata getting 24 Hours of LeMons Peoples Curse in Texas - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 68
Capsule Comparison Part 1: 1993 Mazda Miata Thu, 01 Nov 2012 13:00:22 +0000

“I wouldn’t ask too much of her,” I ventured. “You can’t repeat the past.” “Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!” He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand. “I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before,” he said, nodding determinedly. “She’ll see.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby

The idea that modern cars are dull, derivative and devoid of character has been gaining a lot of currency over the past few years. In truth, it’s nothing new. In LJK Setright’s heyday, he was already advancing this trope, while claiming the cars of post-war period were the last of the breed as far as emotional stirring transportation was concerned.

The relative nature of driving and the nostalgia that goes hand in hand with cars from a bygone era has kept this notion alive. Anyone who has left a lover, re-united with them and then broke it off for good, knows that the heightened expectations and euphoria that accompanies the initial re-union quickly gives way to the sobering reality of bad habits and feelings of contempt. Owning a classic car has many parallels.

In September, when I had the chance to drive not one but two of the greatest sports cars of the 1990s; both were 1993 models, with less than 30,000 original miles, and both were Mazdas. One was a privately owned MX-5, the other an RX-7, owned by Mazda Canada that lived most of its life sitting dormant in a warehouse. Both are now as close to showroom as possible, driven sparingly and maintained with painstaking care.

As a Miata owner, the 1.6L car is the benchmark against which every other Miata is measured, but I’d never driven one. My first example was a first-generation 1.8L car that I adored and neglected. It was the exact car I coveted in high school, the ultra-rare British Racing Green on Tan version that was a Canadian exclusive, and and that car and I became permanently intertwined. So much so that when I bought my second Miata, a 2003, my friends objected largely on the basis that “it wasn’t the green one”  and could never measure up. The second generation car is barely heavier, a fair bit more powerful and much easier to live with every day compared to my 1.8L NA. But the 1.6L is even better.

On paper, the differences between these two cars are negligible, but there is an very tangible lightness to the 1.6L cars that was somehow lost in 1994, when the larger motor was added. The 1.6L motor is livelier than the big-bore Miata, freer revving and displaying much more charm. Make no mistake, this car is still slow, but there are benefits too. The 100 extra pounds make a huge difference in the way the car responds to lateral movements, and the skinny, low-grip tires only enhance the feeling that you are driving a Smurf-blue bathtub mounted on a skateboard.

Most early Miatas in this part of the world have been ravaged by the grind of harsh roads and even harsher weather. This car’s owner is particularly meticulous, maintaining it only with original parts and an obsessive maintenance schedule. Despite the 36,000 kilometers on the clock, it’s had three timing belt changes throughout its life, with a fourth due up soon [this was initially reported incorrectly as eight changes - Ed]. This car is intended to be an heirloom, and that alone stops me from really laying into it and extracting every last molecule of performance.

This paradox the main reason why I’d never own a car like this; every time you drive it, there is an infinitesimal degradation of its condition that can never be regained. After a few years of enjoying it like a Miata should be enjoyed, the chassis will flex, the seats with crack and the paint will fade. There is no counterpart that can absorb the ravages of age by proxy, Dorian Grey-style. I could never live my life knowing that something capable of bringing me so much joy could only be used sparingly, on rare occasions when conditions are perfect. But the owner is a much more disciplined and mature human being than I am, and those moments, often spent with his wife or daughter in the passenger seat, are likely that much more satisfying.

Despite what the Miata zealots will tell you, the current NC does capture that urgency and visceral fun, even if it’s a bit heavier, with a higher beltline and goofy front end styling. I would happily take one, and not be afraid to go and do donuts in a shopping mall parking lot after a fresh snowfall, lest I get salt on it. The heated seats would keep me warm, and the folding hardtop would add another layer of insulation, even if it felt like an albatross around the car’s neck.

It would be a compromise for sure, but if I ever needed to remind myself of what I was missing out on, the genuine article would only be a phone call away.

Stay tuned for Part 2, featuring the RX-7 and the car’s trademark habit of catastrophic mechanical failure

DSLRDump-430-450x300 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Miata2012 032 Miata2012 030 Miata2012 028 Miata2012 027 Miata2012 024 Miata2012 022 Miata2012 021 Miata2012 018 Miata2012 012 DSLRDump 457 DSLRDump 454 DSLRDump 451 DSLRDump 440 DSLRDump 439 DSLRDump 438 DSLRDump 435 DSLRDump 434 DSLRDump 433 DSLRDump 430 DSLRDump 429 DSLRDump 427 DSLRDump 423 DSLRDump 419 ]]> 54
Mazda’s MX-5 Guru Reveals Details On The Next RX-7 Wed, 31 Oct 2012 17:41:48 +0000

Putting an end to the vicious cycle of rumors and conjecture, Mazda’s sports car chief revealed that they will bring back the RX-7 in 2017, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Cosmo sports car.

Nobohiru Yamamoto, who is now head of the MX-5 program, told Australia’s The Motor Report that the RX-7 will use a stretched version of the Miata platform, and weigh roughly as much as the 2775 lb Toyota 86. Japanese market versions will have a small rear seat, while North American versions will be two-seaters.

Power will come from the new 16X rotary engine, a naturally aspirated unit capable of nearly 300 horsepower. Yamamoto said that a large single turbo caused too much lag, and a sequential twin-turbo setup like the previous RX-7 was “not ideal”. But Yamamoto didn’t rule out a turbo either for future production. But even in naturally aspirated form, the power to weight ratio should exceed the last RX-7 sold in North America.

Also absent from the RX-7 will be any kind of KERS or hybrid system. Mazda currently doesn’t have any sort of technology in that space, and according to Yamamoto “”…a pure sports ca…must be internal combustion.” Lightweight aluminum body panels and special catalysts will help the car meet tough emissions and fuel economy standards.

Unfortunately, all that will come at a price. The RX-7 will apparently be more expensive than something like a Nissan 370Z or a Toyota 86. All that engineering comes at a price, and the RX-7 will be positioned to reflect that.

]]> 61
Mazda, Alfa Romeo Roadster Could Be The Start Of A Beautiful Friendship Fri, 31 Aug 2012 19:30:56 +0000

While discussing the future of a Mazda/Fiat collaboration last week, one industry insider trusted by TTAC had this to say

“It’s a bit like a first dance during the sixth grade…the Roadster, I mean. They’re leaving room for Jesus, but still able to cop a feel if they’re lucky.”

Now we’ve got more info on the Alfa/Mazda collaboration, and the possibility of more co-operation between Fiat and Japan’s last auto maker.

Speaking to the media, Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi said that while the two roadsters would share weight-saving technology, powertrains and price points would differ. The new MX-5 would use a Skyactiv motor, while the Alfa would be an upscale product. Yamanouchi also had this to say regarding future partnerships between the two brands

“We want to achieve success with the MX-5 and Spyder project first,” he continued. “We can learn more about each other and see what opportunities exist.

It’s pretty plain to see that this is all but a confirmation of future products being develop side by side. The synergies are there; Fiat has the economies of scale to help Mazda make it worthwhile. Mazda is independent, a distinct disadvantage in this era (even with Sumitomo in the background), but has the engineering expertise and an Asian market foothold.

]]> 39
TTAC Track Days Episode 2: Scion FR-S vs. Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T vs. Mazda MX-5 Tue, 07 Aug 2012 15:15:14 +0000 Click here to view the embedded video.

In our second installment, we take the Scion FR-S to the track, along with the heavier, but more powerful Hyundai Genesis 2.0T and its spiritual antecedent, the Mazda MX-5. Oh, and there are special guests from Japan and America.


]]> 143
A Day At The Races: We Ignore ALMS In Favor Of Some Girly Cars Mon, 23 Jul 2012 20:13:02 +0000

Sunday mornings are for sleeping in. Since the invention of the Digital Video Recorder, all my motorsports viewing has been pre-empted until the afternoon, when a big mug of coffee, some eggs and a spoonful of hot sauce has been ingested, and I’m comfortably ensconced in my couch, with no exposure to fresh air or natural light.

Unless my friend is racing.

I was invited to head out to the historic Mosport Canadian Tire Motorsports Park to watch Brian Makse, my friend, mentor, driving coach and fellow journalist race my favorite car, the Mazda MX-5, against a field of Mazda MX-5s. There would also be American LeMans and Porsche GT3 Cup cars there. I decided to set my DVR to record Formula 1, and head out mid-afternoon. Brian has had a long, successful career in both pro and club racing, and has coached and raced against our own Jack Baruth, while helping to fine tune my own driving skills when we both have a chance to get away to the track. Today, I’d get a rare chance to watch him at work.

No matter how wretched my hangover was after a Saturday night out on the town, I was determined to be there and lend some moral support. Luckily, my transportation for the day was a brand new Shelby GT500 – 662 horsepower, 24.5 MPG on the journey there, doing 80 mph with the A/C on full blast. Who says modern cars are boring? Brian had a 991 Porsche Carrera, which got next to no attention in the tiny town of Bowmanville. The bright blue Shelby was the winner in the land of chain restaurants and tract housing. I’ll take the Porsche, electric steering and all.

The paddock area was Miata heaven; race-prepped MX-5s everywhere, for both the Challenge and the Playboy Cup (which use slightly different setups, and tend to run a bit faster). Mazda had some displays with the parts needed to turn a regular MX-5 into a Playboy cup car. Suspension nerds, note the Sachs remote reservoir dampers.

I missed most of the ALMS race, after yakking about Miatas to the owner of a 1993 with 27,000 original miles, but some of the faster stuff was on display. There were also a couple of banged up MX-5s on display.

This one’s got a bit of a crooked smile. A trip to the orthodontist is likely.

Here’s Brian getting into his MX-5. The cars use revised shocks and springs, BF Goodrich race tires and proper safety equipment. Nothing more. They are very close to stock.

Oops, I lied. There’s an awesome Supertrapp style muffler out back. Not too loud, but still buzzing and frenetic.

Playboy Cup race tires

Don’t forget that memo!

Brian ended up finishing 4th, not losing a position but not gaining one either.

While Brian generously provided a free pass, I’ve come to realize that watching racing without trackside credentials is inferior to watching it on TV. Even though the sounds, smells and other details aren’t there, TV cameras give a superior vantage point. Standing on a hill overlooking the front straight, I’d be peering down, waiting to see Brian’s car fly by and then re-appearing a minute and a half later.

Even better is participating…but I’m still not there, just yet. Though Mosport technically is my “home track”

Too bad the kart circut was closed that day.


]]> 8
Mazda MX-5 Getting Refreshed Yet Again Mon, 02 Jul 2012 18:14:25 +0000

Mazda will be refreshing the MX-5 for 2013, as they attempt to hold us over for the long-awaited “ND” Miata, due in a couple years, that will share a platform with the Alfa Romeo Spider.

Although *some* uninformed enthusiasts claim that the current car is a heavier, uglier abomination not fit to carry on the legacy of the MX-5, I couldn’t disagree more. The NC MX-5 is brilliant. Full stop. The only thing that puts me off is the goofy front fascia. Otherwise, it’s just about perfect, especially with the “dreaded” Power Retractable Hardtop. I would go so far as to say that it’s better in every single way than my beloved NA Miata, with no additional drawbacks.

The refresh is subtle, and helps diminish some of the “smiley face” character of the awful Nagare styling language, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s impossible enough to do away with that blight. The headlights, grill opening and air intakes are only slightly changed, but it does help. Even though the front is still ugly, I’d buy one over an FR-S. I suspect I’m not alone.

Thanks to The Car Lounge for the photos

]]> 42
Next-Gen Alfa Romeo Spider Won’t Be An Upscale Miata Thu, 28 Jun 2012 19:50:12 +0000

News of the next Alfa Romeo Spider sharing its technology with the Mazda MX-5 led to some speculation that the Spider would be a more expensive version of the MX-5, perhaps with a bespoke powertrain and styling. Not quite.

According to Retuers, the Spider will be the volume model, while the 4C mid-engined sports car will occupy a premium role.

For the Spider, Fiat aims to attract younger buyers who look at an accessibly-priced Scion FR-S or Subaru BRZ and will be priced like the Miata MX-5 ($23,500 to $31,225), aiming for similar volumes (5,674 in 2011, compared with around 3,500 for the BMW Z4 or the Mercedes SLK).

The 4C should be priced in the BMW roadster or Mercedes range ($42,000 to $67,000).

As far as I’m concerned, more affordable sports cars is always a good thing. The agreement between Fiat and Mazda likely stipulates just how similar the two cars can be, but it’s hard to imagine too much overlap between two sports cars with fiercely loyal camps. If anything, the fashionista crowd may gravitate towards the Italy narrative that goes with Alfa Romeo, while the older gents who have actually owned an Alfa (and dealt with the various issues associated with them) may be more open to the idea of a Miata.

]]> 21
Mazda Courts Jalopnik Readers With Next MX-5, Gets More Than They Bargained For Mon, 04 Jun 2012 16:29:06 +0000

I’m not afraid to admit I’m wrong (though I tend to be right nearly every single time without fail. So there.). When I saw that Mazda had asked Jalopnik readers for their thoughts on the next MX-5, I oscillated between sheer terror (at the prospect of reading a bunch of keyboard jockeys telling engineers how to do their jobs, i.e. every press launch) and total Schadenfreude.

The next MX-5 is more than likely “locked in” past the point of no return. Styling, engineering and powertrains are all but locked in, and not a damn thing can be done to change them, even though the next MX-5 will have to be tweaked a bit to become an Alfa Romeo. That’s a shame. Mazda might be wise to listen to some of the suggestions put up by Jalopnik’s readers.

It turns out that I wasn’t alone in feeling apprehensive. Reader “tobythesandwhich” composed a brilliant satire

Well this can only end badly. Suggestions WILL Include: 
-1200lb weight 
-No safety features whatsoever. People don’t really hurt/die from car crashes. It’s a government cover up to try and control us 
-Must have at least 600hp and a turbo AND supercharger 
-Must be able to go off road and scale mountains 
-Must cost less than $5000. Because everything that costs more than that enters V6 Mustang territory 
-Must get at least 400mpg while maintaining constant aggressive driving 
-Must have pop-up headlamps, reverse opening hood, and give fuck-all about Pedestrian Safety Regulations 
-Must have an interior decked out in leather on leather on leather while having a 40000 watt stereo system that we’ll still end up bitching about because it weighs more than 2lbs 
-Must have a Manual Transmission with no less than 100 Gears. Us Jalops love to shift. And if you even consider offering an Automatic for the sake of keeping the model alive I (And the Jalopnik community) swear to god we will kidnap the families of the Designers. Then burn their houses down and fornicate their wives while wearing their slippers and robes.

Feel free to chime in Jalopnik. I know this is what you want.

In the end, most of the suggestions seem to be firmly grounded in reality, life experience and prior ownership – the kinds of things that auto journalists aren’t usually brimming with, even if they have owned a Miata or three.

Among the suggestions listed were a la carte optioning (a big yes, as anyone who has tried to order a CX-5 or Mazda3 can attest to), classic styling and enough room for a 6’2″ individual, wearing a helmet to clear the “broomstick test”. All of those, plus say, an inch more leg roof (tilt/telescoping wheel perhaps) would go along way to increasing comfort without making the car much larger or heavier.

Rather than catalog every single good idea, you might as well go and read the thread. My personal theory is that Mazda thought they could get some free publicity by “empowering” Jalopnik readers by “engaging in a conversation” about the next MX-5. Then they could promptly ignore all the suggestions, since the car was a done deal, and wait for the praise to roll in. Hopefully there’s still time for them to listen.



]]> 68
Mazda/Alfa Romeo Roadster Alliance: The Bright Side Of Consolidation Wed, 23 May 2012 13:54:24 +0000

Back when I was searching for my first car, I briefly found an Alfa Romeo Spider that looked like it would be in passable condition. Before I could even call the number from the classified ad, my father chimed in with his usual wisdom. “Oh, you don’t want to start with those. They were crap! Just get a Miata and finish!”.

Now, after 25 years of utter dominance, the Miata has finally consumed the last icon of European two-seaters, the Alfa Romeo Spider. Mazda and Fiat signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop new, lightweight roadsters specific to each brand. Both would be built at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant. While the new MX-5 is just around the corner, the Alfa would start production in 2015.

Alfa Romeo cars, particularly vintage ones, have an enormous following in Japan, and the tie-up with a “premium” brand will reflect well on Mazda, which is saddled with financial troubles and a gloomy future, despite a new wave of promising product. Unfortunately for Miata owners, it will be hard to harp on Alfas for oil leaks, electrical issues and other maladies once Mazda starts building the Spider to the Miata’s superb level of reliability.

The big question here is the implications for Mazda and a potential Fiat alliance. Mazda has been adamant about forming partnerships in order to ensure its survival, and Sergio Marchionne told Automobile this month that a broader partnership with Mazda would be attractive. When you think about it, a Mazda/Alfa partnership isn’t too much of a stretch…

]]> 21
Mazda Says “Deuces” To V6 Engines, Welcomes Rotaries Back Into The Fold Wed, 18 Apr 2012 15:26:54 +0000 Click here to view the embedded video.

Mazda is saying “peace out” to their V6 engines. The party line is that they don’t really fit with the companies new philosophy, and the SkyACTIV portfolio. Instead, the company is drumming up a few alternatives.

The V6 engines used in the Mazda6 and CX-9 were fine, but nobody will shed a tear over their demise. According to a Car and Driver interview with Mazda USA Senior VP Robert Davis, the new Mazda6 will use SkyACTIV 4-cylinder engines only (hopefully the SkyACTIV-D diesel will be offered – a hybrid is rumored as well), while the next-generation CX-9 will apparently use some kind of 4-cylinder with forced induction.

In more performance oriented news, Mazda is working on not one but two new rotary engines. A new, more efficient, more powerful rotary engine as well as a rotary designed to be used as a range extender for an electric vehicle. The light weight of the rotary would be a plus for this application, while the lack of torque would be rendered moot by the electric motor.

And finally, news of the next MX-5 remains the same. It will be lighter and follow the same principles as SkyACTIV; less mass, more efficiency. And Davis hinted that there would be some more radical special editions in the spirit of the MX-5 Spyder or MX-5 Super 20.

]]> 57