After the Miatas introduction in
1989, comparisons of the diminutive Japanese drop-top to its English forbearers were
inevitable. People who fondly remembered 1960s roadsters from MG, Triumph and
Austin-Healey now had their chance to buy a car that featured the small size, low weight
and sprightly performance (no pun intended) of those remembered ragtops without having to
suffer through iffy electrical systems, leaky engine gaskets and nonexistent creature
When it came time to create the first special edition of the Miata,
Mazda had to look no further than the nostalgia that already surrounded the car. Famous
for its use on English sports and racing cars from such notable manufacturers as Aston
Martin, Jaguar and Bentley (and its designation as the official racing color of England),
the aptly named British Racing Green was the perfect hue to imbue the Miata with its
heritage as stepchild to the great British sports cars.
While the original Miata was no slouch, the past ten years have done
wonders for the mini Mazda. The special edition features a 155 hp 1.8 liter DOHC 16 valve
four-cylinder motor mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. Very rarely do I sing the
praises of a transmission, but the Miatas 6-speeds light switch quick, short
throws make shifting an intuitive exercise.
Yes, with good power and light weight the Miata wrings every bit of
spunk out if its motor to provide tire chirping performance. Handling has always been the
Miatas forte, and this special edition is no exception. When compared to other cars
in its class the Miata can hold its own.
The Miatas cabin ranks right up there with big Mercedes sedans in
terms of creature comforts, provided that creature is less than six feet tall. Though I
love the feel of the special editions sumptuous leather upholstery, its Nardi
wood rimmed steering wheel and polished wood gearshift knob, the diminutive Miata is a
cramped place to spend time in if youre six-feet-four-inches tall like me. Even with
the seat all the way back, my legs were bent in such a way that I could activate the turn
signals and wipers with my knees.
But hey, you drop the manually operated top, crank up the Bose AM/FM/CD
stereo and blast through the gears on a warm summer day and youll forget any of the
Miatas shortcomings. Feel free to take a friend along, but make sure you both pack
light. And drive with an easy foot, as the Miata returns 23 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on
the highway. With my heavy foot my test Miata averaged 21 mpg, and with gas prices the way
they are, you would be better off cruising along a country road than you would imitating
your favorite race car driver.
At $26,745, my test Miata special edition is a great deal. The only
options the test car added to its fully loaded base price of $25,715 were anti-lock brakes
at $550 and a $480 destination charge. The list of standard features includes air
conditioning, power windows, mirrors and locks, fog lights, cruise control, a glass rear
window with defroster and chromed 16" alloy wheels. Other special edition features
are a British Racing Green Miata gift set, special edition floor mats, stainless steel
scuff plates, tan leather upholstery and a tan convertible top.
But the best recommendation at all came from my 16-month-old daughter, Emily. Upon
seeing the deep green Miata she exclaimed, "Ooooooh!" and ran to try and open
the door. After being placed behind the wheel, all the controls (except the pedals, of
course) fell readily to her hands and she stood on the seat making "vroom,
vroom" sounds. When it came time to take her into the house, she clamped onto the
wheel and screamed "No no no no! Car!" What can I say
Chicks dig Miatas.