1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long Term Road Test

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1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata: The Case for Analog

March 09, 2012

1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata: The Case for Analog

Maybe only a handful of readers will feel me on this one. Perhaps you traveling types who log mileage and fuel receipts. When we gas up our long- and short-term test cars, we log trip and odometer readings. Increasingly, this requires a trip into the digital world, which in many new cars means mystery sequences involving menus screens, steering wheel buttons and scroll wheels, buttons arrayed by your knees, or careful thumbing of those reset stems.

Inevitably, the car either needs to be running or in accessory mode, which is always a bummer when you start the transaction at the pump and realize you didn't memorize or jot down the odo reading (required to start the fuel flowing in our case).

Hence another of the old Miata's charms: analog odo and trip. There's no Trip B option, and sure, I guess odo tampering is a good enough reason to go -- and stay -- digital. As modern cars spiral down a bottomless rabbit hole of techery and conveniences, the most important issue facing the "human factors" designers and engineers is integrating simple with the sophisticated.

Adaptive cruise? Yes. Wafer-thin virtual touchscreen buttons to access my playlists? Shift paddles to reset the Trip D meter (one for the whole family) and average MPG? Boo.  

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 135,238 miles.

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