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May 20, 2022

"The Answer is Miata"

Mazda Miata

BY ROBERT IANTORNO — It's a common adage amongst automotive enthusiasts that, "The Answer is Miata." Mazda's ubiquitous 2 seat sportscar debuted in 1989, and is renowned for its simplicity, handling, feel, and for pretty much doing everything well. So when my wife and I travelled to Arizona recently, I decided to rent a 2013 Miata (aka MX5) to see what the hype was about.

This was a bad decision logistically, because Miatas are small. That meant that we had to cram our luggage into spaces not meant for luggage, and then contort ourselves into the remaining space.

Initial driving impressions were very positive. The gearshift is direct and solid in its engagement. The steering is accurate and feeds back plenty of information about the road surface. The suspension is taught but not stiff, and provides a nice ride with minimal body roll. The engine is torquey and eager. It's a great sportscar.

I got to know the little Miata well on some solo drives through Sedona and surrounding towns. Roads were winding, sun was shining, scenery was beautiful. While grinning from ear to ear, I was able to really wind out the engine and use all of the RPMs in each gear (it's best to drive a "slow" car quickly). I was charmed.

But that was puppy love. After a few days, I became weary of the dizziness and the directness and the enthusiasm. I was sunburnt on my forehead and forearms. My back hurt. I began to notice the plasticky feel of the interior, the Style by Committee styling. The car lacked a depth of personality. It was certainly competent and fun, but it didn't feel special. I liked it, but I just didn't love it (I like to love things).

So maybe Miata is "The Answer". But maybe I don't want "The Answer". Maybe answers are fleeting. Maybe there's more to life (and vehicles) than answers. Maybe I don't want something that's perfect. Maybe lasting beauty is found in flaws. Maybe the best things reveal themselves slowly over time. Maybe "It's" about the questions, more than the answers. The Miata was lots of fun, but it just wasn't that deep.

"Miata is an answer."


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