Mazda MX-5 Miata Road Test Review
by Martha Hindes
She's splashy, she's sassy, and she has personality to spare. If you've seen Sofia Vergara in films or on TV recently, you know how this Latina bombshell dominates the screen whether it's a TV sitcom or diet soda ad where she even outshines Brit David Beckham, one of the world's hunkiest soccer stars. Obviously Vergara knows how to use her considerable assets to gain attention. The same can be said about the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata sports car, the sultry, sexy roadster that blew conservative off the map of fun car driving a couple of decades ago when it burst on the scene while virtually no other automaker had anything comparable even on the drawing board.
If that bodes well for the rest of 2012, there's good reason.
First, the Miata is simply stunning. Give or take a year or two, it never loses its charm once the new car patina has settled in and it has racked up a few dozen Ks on the odometer. It has never failed to energize the world of sporty driving since its debut. And there's no reason to suspect it won't continue to do the same for years to come.
Second, no matter what else rolls off of different assembly lines designed to displace it, the Miata commands the immediate respect, desire and admiration of just about any autophile out there. After all, Mazda claims nearly a million of this feisty little charmer have been sold worldwide since it first set jaws dropping as an automotive ingénue back in 1989.
Third, Mazda has never lost sight of the purpose of the Miata -- to have fun while driving, a philosophy soundly proclaimed in its amusing and attention-getting Zoom Zoom ads that instantly confirm its worth.
What does the driver command when behind the wheel? To begin with, there's the lusty-sounding MZR 2.0-liter four-cylinder powerplant, that generates a healthy, “highly responsive” 167-horsepower with manual transmission (158-HP with automatic), This “light and compact” front-mounted engine, combined with rear drive, churns out 140lb-ft of energizing torque for a wide field of play to romp in when revving up.
For 2012, Miata fans can choose from Sport, Touring or Grand Touring models. Best mileage comes from the Sport model with stick shift that earns a 22 city/28-highway fuel economy rating. Thanks to a diet, including use of aluminum, Mazda engineers put the Miata on during the past few years. But losing weight hasn't changed the overall visual charm of this stunner. The 2012 version retains its drop dead gorgeous appeal, supple lines and siren song allure especially with hardtop drop-top down to expose its two-seater sports car appeal. (Dieting might be a good approach for intender Miata drivers, since one of the few complaints we've ever heard about it is the snug way it encapsulates both driver and passenger thanks to its diminutive overall size, and makes one pack sparingly when planning on luggage for a trip.
That smaller size might make one appreciate even more the safety construction and integrated safety systems -- from dual front airbags that can be deactivated for wee passengers, to anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with a Traction Control System (TCS) and a tire pressure monitoring system, plus side impact door beams on this hyped up little road runner.
Plan on a base of about $23K if you dip into lively sports car driving with a base model Miata -- available in five hues including True Red, a sports car must. Add a few K more if you're intrigued by the Touring or Grand Touring editions that can add leather interior door trim, silver-accented speaker rings, door handles and shift knob, leather-wrapped parking brake and shift knob and more, plus five setting heated leather seats, automatic climate control, and seven-speaker Bose surround-sound audio. The requisite hands-free Bluetooth connectivity and Sirius Satellite are available as well. We call this ‘playing in style without having to break the bank like you would with one of the big boys’ bruisers. Just remember to take it out on the track or S curve-laden roads at times. Its sporting DNA and driving characteristics almost demand that. And we think Sofia Vergara, no stranger to curve-laden vistas, would agree.
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