1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long Term Road Test

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1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata: We Meet Again

November 29, 2011

1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata: We Meet Again

It's been quite some time since I've driven the Project Miata. We're talking literally months. In fact, I think this is the first time I've driven the car since JayKav had the roll bar installed.

And, wouldn't you know, I had forgotten how fun it is.

I love Project Miata's nimble nature, that quick turn-in and precise steering feel. When we tested it with the bigger wheels and tires, Walton and I were flat out amazed with not only how much grip it had through the slalom and around the skidpad, but how composed it was.

Sure, a bit more sauce would be nice, as the Miata certainly has more grip than power at the moment. But I really like the way the power flows so smoothly from the supercharged engine.

And the clutch is terrific, the take-up point absolutely second-nature combined with great throttle calibration. This is the way all cars should be.

Course, there are a few things that make the Miata less than perfect as a daily driver:

There's the seatbelt that retracts quite reluctantly. And the gouged-out driver's seat, the cushion bolsters of which now dig into me. And yes, lots of road noise. It's boomy inside the cabin. And there are a few more creaks and rattles than I remember, along with a bit of speaker distortion that I don't recall. Maybe I just had the stereo cranked louder than usual last night during my slog down the 405...

Ultimately I can put up with those. Because, a) it's a project car. And b) it's pure and purposeful.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 133,950 miles.

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