Master of the Obvious - 1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long-Term Road Test

1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long Term Road Test

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1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Master of the Obvious

March 30, 2012


Kurt's about to do something interesting with Project Miata over the weekend, so that gives me time to make some mundane observations right now.

Driving a recovering convertible with a fixed hardtop and rollcage is as cool as it is inconvenient. I put 50 mostly freeway miles on the 1997 MX-5 last night and noticed that with the driver seat tracked back in my preferred position, it rubs continually against the cage. It really is time for a new seat, but you know, it's so tight in this cockpit with a cage, I might still have this issue.

Another thing I noticed last night is that even with its upgraded suspension, wheel/tire swap and pretty amazing grip, the Miata doesn't ride half bad. On L.A. freeways, it's more compliant than our 1985 911, far less compliant than our NSX and about as tolerable as my (fading) memory of Evo VIII/IX (obviously, I'm comparing apples to oranges to mangos to papayas, but when you have a whole fleet of cars, it's tough to resist looking at them in relation to each other). But the steering is very reactive just off center -- great for quick transitions on the track, but a little high-maintenance on the 60 freeway.

Parting thought: In-gear acceleration is plenty good at 70 mph in 5th. More power/torque would be exciting, no doubt, but as it is, most of my heel-and-toe downshifts in normal driving are executed just for sport -- they sound good.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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