Coming up on the anniversary of my first year living in Michigan, I set out for a weekend getaway to explore some of the state’s most picturesque scenery. And like any car guy planning a trip, I made sure that my route consisted of winding roads in a car worth enjoying. With a forecast of crystal-clear weather plus a 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata up for grabs, I headed up north from Detroit chasing a worry-free adventure but without a solid game plan to speak of.
Doing right by the roadster
Barely two seconds after firing up the Miata’s 167-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder, my hand was supernaturally pulled toward the power-retractable hardtop button. The sun was shining, there were about four hours ahead of me before hitting Traverse City in northern Michigan, and I was resolved to spend the whole ride, as they say, topless.
Aiming to maximize the daylight hours and avoid the inevitable temperature drop after sundown, I jumped on the highway for the first leg of my trip in the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata. It was surprisingly comfortable to cruise for a long distance in the little roadster, thanks to its supportive leather seats and spot-on driving position. However I did quickly tire of the leaf-blower-in-the-face effect of driving 80 mph with both the top and windows down. After raising the windows and thanking Mazda profusely for the factory-installed wind-blocker, the drive became decidedly more pleasant.
Giving in to temptation
Finally, my better judgment took over and I directed the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata off the highway and smack into an enthusiast’s paradise—the middle of nowhere. “Can we go fast now? Can we?” the Miata seemed to beg. I was more than willing to answer that call, and the final 40 miles before Traverse City were a blur of crops and oil wells lining the sides of the road. Oncoming traffic was privy to the likely amusing image of a little guy smiling as wide as the grille of his equally little car.
The sunset over Lake Michigan looked gorgeous as I pulled into Traverse City. Despite a fun night talking to some locals and bumming through the city’s copious beer halls, the Miata’s charm had far from worn off. I was already thinking about the next day, when I’d tackle the twisties along route 22 toward Michigan’s popular Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Right in its Element
If there’s anywhere in Michigan that the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata can feel right at home, it’s the stretch of coastline around Grand Traverse Bay. Forested scenery mixed with lake views, squiggly roads with constant elevation changes, and textbook top-down weather all make for an ideal day for motoring.
With the top down, the Miata was truly right in its element. On a previous drive in the Miata with its hardtop in place, the thrashy engine and persistent road noise got on my nerves, but the experience of open-air motoring makes you forget about such shortcomings. The hardtop is great to have in a pinch when it starts raining, but if you take the advice of the park ranger at Sleeping Bear State Park, you might not even need it then. “When it rains, just drive faster!” she suggested.
The Miata isn’t terribly fast, but it is wonderfully willing, agile, and involving at every turn. Most of all, the car feels focused and committed to simple driving enjoyment. There’s no touchscreen, no fancy-looking digital instrument cluster, and no automatic rev-matching. It’s just a perfectly shaped steering wheel, a short-throw six-speed manual transmission, three pedals, and you.
Looping back home
From Sleeping Bear, I traced Michigan’s western coast until the road straightened out around Manistee, MI. By the time I finally arrived back to my house in Ann Arbor with the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata, I’d spent a little more than 24 hours away, most of it behind the wheel of one of our generation’s most iconic sports cars, and every minute with the top down. And if the rest of the staff here at Automobile wasn’t keen to snag the keys for themselves, I would have done it all over again the next weekend.
- Body style 2-door roadster
- Accommodation 2-passenger
- Construction Steel unibody
- Base price (with dest.) $30,245
- As tested $32,285
- Engine 16-valve DOHC I-4
- Displacement 2.0 liters (122 cu in)
- Power 167 @ 7000 rpm
- Torque 140 @ 5000rpm
- Transmission 6-speed manual
- Drive 4-wheel
- EPA Fuel Economy 21/28/24 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
- Steering Hydraulically assisted
- Lock-to-lock 2.7 turns
- Turning circle 32.8 ft
- Suspension, Front Control arms, coil springs
- Suspension, Rear Control arms, coil springs
- Brakes F/R Vented discs/discs
- Wheels 17-inch aluminum
- Tires Bridgestone Potenza RE050A
- Tire size 205/45R17 84W
- Headroom 37.0 in
- Legroom 43.1 in
- Shoulder room 53.2 in
- Wheelbase 91.7 in
- Track F/R 658.7/58.9 in
- L x W x H 157.3 x 67.7 x 49.4 in
- Passenger capacity N/A cu ft
- Cargo capacity 5.3 cu ft
- Weight 2593 lb
- Weight dist. F/R 51/49%
- Fuel capacity 12.7 gal
- Est. fuel range 308 miles
- Fuel grade 91 octane (premium)
- Tilt leather steering wheel with cruise and audio controls
- Power door locks and windows
- Rear center console storage
- Driver seat height adjuster
- Mesh aero board
- Floor mats
- Auto dimming rearview mirror with Homelink
- Auxiliary audio input jack
- AM/FM/MP3/6-disc CD changer
- Bose audio system with 7 speakers
- Remote keyless entry system
- Heated leather trimmed seats
- Leather shift knob
- Leather trimmed hand brake
- Trip computer
- Automatic air conditioning
- Suspension package – $650
Sport tuned suspension
Limited slip differential
Premium Package – $1390
Anti theft alarm
Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry System
Sirius Satellite Radio
Bluetooth hands-free phone system