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.
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.
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.
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.
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.