Can an Automatic be as Much Fun as a Manual?
Anyone who knows me knows that my one favourite cars of all times is the Mazda Miata. It has been my favourite ever since I saw my first one on the road back in the late 1980s. Good-looking, fun to drive and best of all, affordable.
None of that has changed over the years. Now officially named the MX-5, and with the demise of both the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, this roadster is the only one in its class again. No one else can seem to compete with what the MX-5 has to offer.
Every year, I get excited to get my hands on the new MX-5; whether Mazda has done any upgrades or not, this little car always leaves a big impression. This was the first year that I was not that excited to pick it up. I was finally asked to review a model equipped with the automatic transmission. Call me old-school, but I still think the only way to really drive a sports car is to do all the shifting myself.
I love both the 5- and 6-speed manual gearboxes in the MX-5. Short shifts, a great clutch and a shift knob within easy reach; I feel as one with the road, just as Mazda wants.
Loosely translated, the expression Jinba Ittai means “horse and driver as one”. This is the expression that designers have used as a baseline for creating and updating the car over the years. This philosophy has been reflected in a few specific design requirements that have been carried over year after year.
Over the last two decades, the basic shape has stayed very similar to the original. Mazda has gotten rid of the pop-up headlights, added some flared fenders, sporty exhaust tips and ditched the bubbly appearance, giving it a more aggressive look. So many people say it is a ‘chick car’ but this last generation has gotten rid of most of the cute angles and gets looks from both woman and men.
Sticking to its essence, the cockpit has large, easy to read gauges. The layout is simple and all buttons and knobs are within easy reach. Mazda has strived to make the cockpit able to comfortably accommodate two full-size occupants. My boyfriend is a body builder, and was not even open to trying to get into this little car. After some begging, I finally got him to go for a ride with me. My fingers were crossed because I didn’t think his athletic frame would fit in this little roadster.
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