Sometime earlier this week I received a certificate in the mail that entitled me to a $35 gift card just for test-driving a new MX-5 Miata. So guess what we did Saturday morning? Right.
The interior is not as bad in person as it looked in pictures, for that matter the same can be said for the exterior. The gages are trendy in that they start at the 6 o’clock position, but are easy to read and they shouldn’t ever be hidden because of the Miata’s first ever, tilt steering wheel. Kudos’s to the return of a real oil pressure gage (although I didn’t really notice it.) The seats felt uncomfortable because they have tightened up the seat bottom bolsters making the seat narrower. I bet that you would get used to it after a while though. The car is larger inside, but really only on the driver?s side. I could actually get comfortable with the seat forward one notch unlike the current car. There is even a bit more headroom with the top up. They kept the 50/50 weight balance, but in and effort to reduce polar movement by getting as much weight towards the center of the car as possible they moved the engine back about 3 inches. To do this they moved the exhaust manifold to the opposite side of the engine than the current car and it encroaches on the passenger side of the interior. Not only is there a swelling of the center tunnel, but also the foot well has been pushed back. Donna is 5′-2″ and with the passenger seat pushed back all the way, she cannot stretch her legs fully out! I remember back in July when I sat in one at the gap it felt very tight on the passenger side and attributed it the center tunnel intrusion, but I see that it wasn’t just that. She was not uncomfortable, but just a little crowded. I would be uncomfortable on a trip over there though.
The door tops are marginally higher, but you can probably rest your elbow there comfortably. Although, for whatever reason, during our test drive I don?t think mine found its way there. The Z-fold top doesn’t tuck down as far as the current one, it stops about shoulder high, thereby filling in between the seats. The larger seats seem to block more from the back too. It all adds up to the interior being more encompassing, makes you feel like you are sunk down in the car. The steering wheel has audio controls in the spokes and looks like it was pulled from a Mustang, not a high point.
Exterior-wise, the fender flares are still polarizing; sometimes they look geeky and other times not so bad. The front looks a little too cute; it reminds me of Nemo, the clown fish from that Pixar movie of a few years back. I?m sure the after market will take care of that in due time (a nice set of shark?s teeth in the mouth might help.) There were several things that glared out at me in the pictures I’ve seen that I didn’t like at all, head lights, marker lights, tail lights, third brake light, but standing next to the car in person, they didn’t really bother me. One thing that really bugged me in the pictures I saw of the car with the top up was a funny hitch around the window. Made it look like it was coming undone from the frame or something. Turns out to be an extra folded seam along the edge of the top (hard to explain) that is a rain rail. Once again it didn’t seem so obvious in person. The Z-fold top with one center latch is trick. The no boot thing is nice, sorta, I don’t like the looks of the empty spaces that show on each side, they’ll probably make a nice spot to catch falling leaves.
They had a new black car parked right next to a black ’05 Mazdaspeed and you can tell they are related, but the newer one is larger looking. Not MG Midget to MGB larger, but more like a younger brother who grew up with better nutrition. It is still very much Miatalike, but with each passing generation of the car it creeps further from its roots. When we went from the first generation car into our current 2nd generation vehicle it seemed more grown up. It had a little more power and a little more torque. It was quieter, both inside and out. The interior was much nicer in looks and materials. Plus they added all those power goodies that we take for granted in cars now days. The new Miata is probably about the same incremental step up from our current car, as it was from the first generation Miata we used to own before. I’m not so sure that is a good thing.
Donna may have said it best. While chatting with the salesman afterward, she told him she didn’t like it, ?It felt a lot like riding around in that Mustang convertible we rented a few years back.? If that is the case, it spells doom for us lovers of raw rear-wheel drive sports cars, but maybe success for Mazda as the car may attract a more mainstream buyer.