Before the Mazda Miata MX-5 even rolls out of its parking space, I'm already impressed. I am absolutely enamored with the MX-5's clever, simple soft-top roof. And while I've driven Miatas before, it's such a delight to pull the release and casually push the roof back in one fluid motion. It clicks into its stored position so neatly that there's no need for a tonneau cover. In many ways, it's a symbol for the entire Miata philosophy, with a design built around simplicity, minimalism, and functionality. I pray that we never see a day when the Miata is only offered with a power retractable top, because that'll be the day when the little roadster delivers more power than grip, puts comfort before handling, and is morbidly overweight.
For now, though, the Miata is nearly perfect. It is lithe, balanced, and inviting. You'll rarely have to move your hands from nine-and-three on the small steering wheel and the humble engine begs to be revved over and over. The shifter is perfectly located and the snappy short throws can be directed without lifting your forearm from the central tunnel. The Miata is a rare vehicle that brings a type of joy typically reserved for children at Christmas. The wrapper just barely accommodates my 6'3" frame and I have trouble seeing traffic lights with the top up, but that's a compromise I'm willing to live with to keep the Miata's dimensions-and manners-so tidy.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor