This year marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most beloved little roadsters in motoring history – the Mazda Miata. Born of an idea by a California automotive journalist, the Miata has spent these 25 years offering simple driving pleasure in an affordable package celebrating Mazda’s mantra of its Jinba Ittai driving experience – oneness between car and driver.
The Miata – now dubbed MX-5 – is modern relic of sorts in that it offers the simple pleasures of driving in a basic package, inspired by the famed British roadsters of the 1960s and modernized through three generations as needed. Recently Mazda allowed us to celebrate this “Summer of Miata” by delivering a 2014 MX-5 with power retractable hardtop and in Club form finished in bright racing red.
Thanks to some cooperation from Mother Nature here in the sunbelt we were able to enjoy this fun little roadster in the middle of summer in the manner it is best prescribed (aka, topless). Even when we found ourselves “raising the roof” the Miata is still a fun car to drive and addresses nearly all needs of comfort and convenience.
The 2014 Mazda Miata MX-5’s powertrain features a spirited 2.0-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine producing some 167hp and 140 lb. ft. of torque. It is mated to (in our tester) a slick six-speed manual gearbox and the combination offers the ultimate roadster driving experience when one finds roads suitable of challenging the MX-5. The engine is mounted front mid-ship for more optimal overall balance of the vehicle.
There is only room for two in the little Mazda, but unlike some other roadsters it offers a fairly roomy trunk – top up or down – thanks to the engineering feat of the hardtop stowing in a space aft of the passenger compartment and fore of the trunk. The power top function takes almost no time to operate and in 12 seconds is one of the quickest on the market.
Pricing for a base 2014 Mazda Miata MX-5 Sport with cloth top and five-speed manual transmission is $23,720. Our Club tester with PRHT arrived at $29,460 thanks to a few goodies that included sport tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks, 17-inch alloy wheels with performance tires, front and rear stabilizer bars, shock tower brace, limited slip rear differential, aluminum hood and silver dual rear exhaust outlets. Fuel economy is rated at 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
The highlight of our time with the 2014 Mazda Miata MX-5 was a trip through our local wildlife safari park on a very pleasant summer morning. The animals were all active and ready to greet park guests. The slow roll through the park with the top down is a highly recommended experience for animal lovers as it allows up close and personal greetings from park residents that include everything from Addax to Zebra. (We did have to apologize to Mazda for the rub mark left by the horns of one of the Aoudads who thought we were being stingy with the food pellets.)
Thanks to relatively low air turbulence inside the cabin area of the Miata when driving with the top down we were able to carry on normal conversations and my now requisite ballcap stayed on the entire trip. The bright red of our Club racer never seemed to bother the animals although that was a slight concern going in. Fortunately the Black and White Rhinos were in a separate pen so no camouflage was necessary to keep them calm. Passing through the Zebra area I was constantly reminded of old childhood jokes (you know, black and white and red all over) with one showing she was definitely ready for her close up. Tish had fun taking “selfies” with the Fallow Deer but things turned ugly when the obnoxious Ostrich decided he would reach in and help himself to the food bag – twice.
The 2014 Mazda Miata MX-5 is no barnstormer but never was meant to be. It is a fun-to-drive car, albeit on the smallish side for a lot of folks, that offers top-down motoring pleasure. Mazda has released a limited 25th anniversary edition 2015 Miata MX-5 but those are all spoken for, but just over the horizon is a new chapter in the endless summer of Miata as the next-generation roadster will debut later this year.