Road & Travel Magazine

Auto Advice & Tips
Auto Buyer's Guides
Car Care Maintenance
Climate Views & Videos
Auto Awards Archive
Insurance & Accidents
Legends & Leaders
New Car Reviews
Planet Driven
Road Humor
Road Trips
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Teens & Tots Tips
Tire Buying Tips
Used Car Buying
Vehicle Model Guide

Travel Channel
Adventure Travel
Advice & Tips
Airline Rules
Bed & Breakfasts
Cruises & Tours
Destination Reviews
Earth Tones
Family Travel Tips
Health Trip
Hotels & Resorts
Luxury Travel
Pet Travel
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Spa Reviews
Train Vacations
World Travel Directory
Bookmark and Share

2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata

2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata Road Test Review
Martha Hindes

Mazda MX-5 Miata
Mazda MX-5 Interior

Nearly two decades ago, when Mazda trotted out a bratty little newcomer called the Miata, approachable roadsters were mostly found in memories of quirky Brit films and garaged classic treasures. With its evolutionary introduction, the Miata choice at the time was a stick shift and a bottom gripping cocoon that might have discouraged Kirstie Allie even before her "Fat Actress" days. Let's consider who would easily have fit. Eva Longoria slinking into the driver's seat? For sure (although her on-screen persona prefers exotics). A lithe Jessica Alba? A probable yes.

With such a looker in its stables, Mazda wisely listened to the small size grumblings and loosened the restrictions, so to speak. Now the totally redesigned Miata for '06 sports an up-to-date name change that could dispell any sizewise negatives that remain. For confirmed Miata fans, it probably isn't necessary. While Mazda calls this third gen the "Mazda MX-5," there's rarely a review that doesn't tack on the Miata name. History has a way of winning out.

We happen to love all the Miatas, size not withstanding. It broke ground when no other company had the chutzpah to bring out a flaunting little roadster, at an affordable price at that, that became the self-described "best selling two-seat convertible ever." And the bevy of nearly affordable roadsters that followed only enhanced its mystique.

The totally new MX-5 Miata is definitely bigger than its open-top predecessors. Cockpit and shoulder room are eased. Presumably one won't bang an elbow shifting if the five- or ultra short-throw six-speed manuals are chosen over the available six-speed Sport A/T automatic with paddle shifters. MX-5 Miata thrives on driver passion and split second, rear-drive performance. The undercurrent of exhilaration comes from the small but energetic new MZR-series 2.0-liter, 170-horsepower four-cyl engine with a wider rev range.

The new Miata, based at $20,435, comes in six flavors: Club Spec, standard MX-5, Touring, Sport, Grand Touring and 750 special Limited MX-5s sure to start a bidding war. Mazda calls its redesigned halo car "nimble." We call it a visual, wraparound treat, with exterior surfaces cradling this two-seater in identifiable but updated style. Like Desperate Housewives' bad boy James Denton, it proves a little mileage under those belted radials needn't spoil the attraction one bit.