2001 Mazda MX-5 Miata LS 2dr Roadster (1.8L 4cyl 5M)
I started out just looking for something cheap to commute in on the mountainous roads where I live. I decided to go ahead and get a truly fun car, which meant rear wheel drive, which lead to the Miata. It's a fantastic car, well built with the goal in mind of emulating a British roadster-one that runs. Not much power but a lively, fun engine mated to a great gearbox and chassis. It has just enough torque to let you loaf along if you want, but loves to rev. Fantastic handling and feedback from all the controls. Very composed even if you push it hard. It's a joy with the top down! Solid design and extremely reliable. I got this one with 78,000 miles on it and expect to drive it for years.
Handling and performance, easy up and down manual top, comfort, fuel economy. Looks great. FUN FACTOR!
Transmission could have been done with an overdrive, it has the torque to run down the highway at 1000 RPM less than it does. Doesn't hurt anything though, this engine will run forever at 4000 RPM at 80 MPH.