As the office manager at Automobile Magazine, I don't often have the opportunity to drive the cars in our test fleet. In fact, I had sworn off driving any of them about a year ago when the BMW 7-series I was shuttling suffered a glancing blow with a metal pole. So it was an unexpected pleasure to have deputy editor Joe DeMatio, who must have decided that I had completed my penance, offer me the chance to spend a weekend with the Mazda Miata.
My original plan was to drive with my husband to Ohio so that we could attend a graduation party. However, since the weather forecast in Ohio called for rain, we changed our plans and we decided to enjoy a couple days of topdown driving in the somewhat cool but dry weather closer to home.
We started in the town of Saline, which is located about ten miles south of Ann Arbor, and headed west on Michigan Avenue. I, of course, took the wheel first as my husband sat in the passenger seat, awaiting his turn. He told me, "This is a great little starter sports car for you, honey." (Perhaps he was thinking about my encounter with that pole.)
After tooling around the area roads for awhile, our first stop was at Curtiss Park, where we snapped a few pics before getting back on the road. This time, my husband decided it was his turn to drive. As we departed Saline proper, the two-lane roads became less crowded and were perfect for enjoying the zippy little Miata. The early-summer weather and rural environment made it feel as though we were in northern Michigan farm country. The Miata hugged the road perfectly along the sweeping curves of M12, and my husband was in his glory: wind in the hair, a great ZZ Top tune playing, and not a care in the world.
He finally let me back behind the wheel as we were leaving the town of Manchester. It was my turn to have some fun on those rural roads. One of the things I like most about the Miata is that you don't have to go fast to have fun; it is a blast to drive. As my husband said, it's the perfect sports car for me.
Once we finally decided to head home, we realized that we needed to pick up a few groceries. I thought we might have to head home first to get one of our larger cars, either my Jeep Patriot or my husband's Grand Cherokee, as I didn't think that the Miata was up to the job. We decided to give it a go, however, and ended up walking out of Busch's grocery store with about 10 bags (so much for picking up just a few items). I had no idea how it was all going to fit. Luckily, my husband is a fabulous packer and was able to fit all but 2 bags in the trunk. Since I am not of great stature, I pulled the passenger seat all the way forward and there was just enough room behind my seat to fit the last 2 bags. It worked out great.
I'm happy to say that I returned the Miata in one piece, clean, and without a scratch on it. It was a great car in which to spend a sunny weekend, and I hope to have another opportunity to spend some more time with this little black beauty before the summer is over. My husband would be ecstatic.
Base price (with destination): $23,905
Price as tested: $23,905
2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine
5-speed manual transmission
16-inch alloy wheels
Tilt steering wheel
4-wheel disc brakes
Auxiliary audio input
AM/FM/CD radio with MP3 capability
Options on this vehicle:
Removable hardtop -- $3126
Key options not on vehicle:
Convenience package -- $1160
Remote keyless entry and retractable key
Power door locks
Steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls
One-touch-down passenger window
Silver seatback bars
Appearance package -- $1145
Front air dam
Body style 2-door roadster
Accommodation 2 passenger
Construction Unibody construction
Engine DOHC 16-valve I-4
Displacement 2.0 liters
Power 167 hp @ 7000 rpm
Torque 140 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
Transmission type 5-speed manual
EPA Fuel Economy 22/28/25
Steering hydraulic power assisted rack-and-pinion
Turning circle 30.8 ft.
Suspension, front Double wishbone, coil springs
Suspension, rear Multilink, coil springs
Brakes f/r 11.4-inch vented disc/11.0-inch solid disc, aluminum calipers; ABS
Wheels 16 x 6.5-inch alloy wheels
Tires Yokohama Advan A11A high performance summer
Tire size 205/50R16
Headroom f 37.4 in
Legroom f 43.1 in
Shoulder room f 53.2 in
Wheelbase 91.7 in
Track f/r 58.7/58.9 in
L x W x H 157.3 x 67.7 x 49.0 in
Cargo capacity 5.3 cu ft
Weight 2480 lb (with hardtop removed)
Fuel capacity 12.7 gal
Est. fuel range 356 miles
Fuel grade 91 octane (premium unleaded)