Mazda single-handedly reinvented the
two-seat roadster with the 1989 Miata, a "basic" roadster. Since that
time the new for 2006 MX-5 Miata has grown in size and amenities and it
still maintains a very loyal fan base.
My first thought when I
saw the picture of me standing next to the 2006 Miata was "how'd I fit
in that thing?" You know what? I fit just fine, thank you very much. The
new Miata seemed to be designed for people like me, people of a certain
age and size group.
The 2006 Miata grew
some so folks like me will fit in it comfortably. At 157.3 in. long it
is 1.8 in. longer than the previous generation, and 1.6 in. wider at
67.7 in. That may not sound like a lot more room but for those of us who
are spreading out a bit in the seat area it does help.
Mazda kept the weight
down using a system they call Gram Strategy. Essentially they looked for
weight reductions wherever they could. For example, they simplified the
rear-view mirror's design to trim 84 grams (0.19 lb.) of weight off of
it. All of this kept the gross weight under 2,500 lbs. for the manual
transmission models and a Club Spec version weighs a skimpy 2,441 lbs.
There are current Mazda
styling clues on the new Miata such as the wheel arches (that hint at
old-style fenders) but thankfully (for my tastes) they are not as
pronounced as on other models. Redesigning a car like the Miata is
tricky - the first generation developed a cult-like following - so any
deviation had to be subtle so as not to alienate the faithful, yet
different enough to spur new sales. I think Mazda did a good job, as I
got a few thumbs up from first generation Miata drivers when they saw
Under the hood is a
2.0-liter, DOHC, Variable Valve Timing, 170-hp, inline 4-cylinder. The
all-aluminum engine is PZEV (partial zero) emissions. The first Miata
had an iron block, 1.6-liter engine, which later grew to 1.8-liter.
Mazda now says the
Miata uses a front mid-ship engine, which means the engine is up front
but moved as far back as possible. This keeps the weight distribution
50/50, front to rear. I remember how Mazda worked to get the exhaust
tone of the first Miata just right. They did the same with the 2006
model - not too loud but with just enough sportiness.
The Miata is a
rear-wheel-drive (what else?) car with three transmission choices. A
5-speed manual is standard, with a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic
with "paddle" shifters optional. The Miata I drove had the 6-speed
manual. Outright acceleration is not the Miata's reason for existing and
I did not put a stopwatch on it, but it felt quick. Anyone who has ever
owned a two-seat roadster knows it really is not about ultimate speed,
it's more about creating a state of mind.
The only difference
between the three transmissions as far as fuel economy goes is in the
city ratings - the 5-speed is rated at 25-mpg, the 6-speed manual
24-mpg, and the 6-speed auto at 23-mpg. All three are rated at 30-mpg on
The soft top on the
Miata is a sweetheart. It unlatches with one latch, goes up and down
with one hand without getting out, and it has a heated glass rear window
– yeah, no discolored plastic rear windows anymore!
It says something about
the Miata that I really did not pay much attention to the interior. I
know it had all the stuff you or I expect in a modern car but it just
never was a priority. I was comfortable, the stereo was fine, and all
the controls were where I needed them.
The whole reason for a
Miata is to put the top down and enjoy the drive. The Miata I drove had
these huge, P205/45R-17 tires, yet the ride was never harsh. No it was
not luxo-smooth, but neither did it beat the tar out of you.
Many people will buy a
Miata as a second or third car, and many of the buyers will be guys my
age (over 50), who remember the British roadsters of their youth. They
want a car that gives them the same visceral feeling without the pain of
oil leaks, hard starting, cramped interiors, and leaking tops. They want
the same things that appealed to me in the Miata - a car that makes them
feel young without making them feel old because the heater doesn't work,
or they have to push it to start it.
A few buyers will race
their Miata, mostly Solo-style but some will actually mix it up on a
track. That's the way it used to be in the old days except then we had
greasy, skinned knuckles and we kept our fingers crossed that we'd be
able to drive home.
The Miata pricing is
darn good, meaning you get a lot of car for the money. The least
expensive is the Club Spec at $20,435, but that probably won't appeal to
the majority. Next in line is the base MX-5 at $21,435, with a Touring,
Sport, Grand Touring, and 3rd Generation Limited topping out
So if you want to
relive your youth, or if you are simply young and want to enjoy life,
think about a 2006 Miata. Drive it to work and arrive with a smile on
your face. Drive it home and I bet you take the road less traveled. By
Bruce Hotchkiss © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
You can contact Car Columnist Bruce Hotchkiss at
Mazda Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
Miata helps relive some great driving experiences
2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata w/Manual Trans
2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Mazda Internet Media
2005 - 56
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2006 Miata MX-5