As a guy who worships two-seat sports cars and has owned a few
Miatas, you'd probably expect me to gush over this car, the new Mazda
Normally I'd write
about how wonderful it is, how its exhaust note sounds like an angelic
orchestra, its driving feel makes you glad to be alive, and its body is
so sexy that photos of it should be banned from school libraries, but
that would be all too predictable.
Yes, I'll say up front
that this is a great car. Despite its drop-dead-gorgeous competition
from General Motors, the MX-5 is still a better car than the Pontiac
Solstice and Saturn Sky. It's the world's best car when you consider
smiles per dollar, and it's the car I'd rather buy if I wanted something
Now that I've gotten
that out of my system, I'll tell you what I really think about the MX-5:
Mazda is messing it up.
When Mazda first
introduced the Miata in 1989, it was a direct blessing from the
automotive gods. Here was a tiny, good-looking vehicle, with the spirit
and spunk of a classic British sports car, only it had Japanese
reliability. Basically, it was an old MG that started when you wanted it
Today's MX-5, Mazda
doesn't call it the Miata anymore, sticks with the formula that made it
the best selling sports car of all time. It's still immensely fun to
drive. It still has timeless good looks rather than trendy, short-lived
styling. And it's still affordable.
But some recent
developments are troubling, and they could eventually kill this great
car if Mazda stays on the same path.
The biggest problem is
how the MX-5 is getting bigger, and heavier, exactly the opposite of
what Mazda should be doing if it wants to make a better sports car.
With simple, smooth
lines, the Mazda MX-5 has a classic sports car shape that will always
Only two seats are in
the MX-5, but they're roomier than previous generations. That's good for
comfort but bad for weight, the enemy of sports cars.
I'm a big fellow. When
I get into a sports car, I ought to be crammed into it like an elephant
in a phone booth. In this car, though, there were 2-3 inches of space
between my big gut and the door panel. That means this car is way too
It now comes with an
optional power hard top. That's a good idea on big, heavy luxury cars,
but on a sports car it's like wearing a mink coat for a lunchtime hike
through Death Valley in July. It's a terrible idea.
Granted, some people
appreciate the extra space and the convenience of a power-folding top.
But in both those instances Mazda's engineers are solving problems that
don't exist. The MX-5's soft-top is an industry benchmark that's
amazingly easy to put up and down, and, seriously, who would buy this
tiny thing if they were looking for something roomy and comfortable?
Even if those people
exist, they shouldn't be buying a sports car. If they really want a
roomier, more comfortable and luxurious car, Mazda sells a perfectly
good grand tourer, called the RX-8.
Finally, the thing that
bugs me most about the new MX-5, is how much better it could be. Mazda
brags about how the current generation of this car is bigger and more
powerful without adding much weight. That's good.
But think about it. If
Mazda could use new technology to make this car balloon up without
adding weight, imagine what they could have done with a smaller vehicle.
It would have weighed a lot less but had a lot more power, staying true
to its pure sports-car roots and getting better performance at the same
That imaginary Miata
would have been an amazing car. It would have gotten club racers and
first-generation Miata owners excited. It would have blown away the
performance of the Solstice and the Sky. It would have been on the cover
of every car magazine because of how much speed you got for the dollar.
Instead, we have a
softer, kinder, gentler, roomier MX-5. It's a wonderful car. It's just
not nearly as wonderful as it could be.
What was tested?
The 2008 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring with a base price of $26,520. Options:
Premium package at $1,250, suspension package at $500, satellite radio
at $430. Price as tested: $28,700
Why avoid it?
It's becoming less pure with added weight and a bulkier body.
Why buy it? It's
amazing fun for the money. It drives like a go-kart, has the reliability
of a Japanese car and simple, timeless styling. It's still a great
By Derek Price ©
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Mazda Home Page
Review provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: It's still a great sports car.
Topic: The 2008 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring
Word Count: 856
Photo Caption: The 2008 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring
Photo Credits: Mazda MX-5 Internet Media
Series #: 2008 - 09
the Microsoft Word version here:
2008 Mazda MX-5
Download the Original Image File here:
2008 Mazda MX-5