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2006 Mazda MX-5 GS Road Test

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Justin Pritchard
Gentlemen, you have between now and the spring to convince your wife or girlfriend.

2006 Mazda MX-5 GS (Photo: Justin Pritchard,
What makes you smile? A little baby perhaps? A beautiful spring morning? Maybe seeing an old friend you haven't seen since who knows when?


Want to know what makes me smile? You know that point after you launch a car off the line, where the wheelspin begins to dissipate as the vehicles speed increases, and the revs drop a bit as traction picks up and the car rockets off the blocks? And then you look behind you and see 30 feet of rubber stripes and a nice cloud of smoke, and maybe some teens on the side of the street with their jaws open? That's what makes me smile.

But this week I'm driving the new Mazda MX-5. And this isn't the sort of car you go doing burnouts and being a great big showoff in. We have Mustangs, Vipers and SRT-4's for that. The MX-5 is more about pure motoring enjoyment. It seeks to satisfy a whole lot of the deeply rooted, emotional needs that draw consumers to roadsters by soulfully executing just a few basic principles.

2006 Mazda MX-5 GS (Photo: Justin Pritchard,
First, the styling: it's about as masculine as a manicure. But some guys like that sort of thing. On the other hand, apparently more guys buy MX-5's than women. It's not wedgy looking, sculpted or aggressive but more nostalgic, to recall the shape of the old MX-5's of years gone by. There is a little RX8 influence in the bulgy fender flares up front, and I even see a little Jaguar in the styling from certain angles, especially just behind the doors. The rims are perfect for it. At 17", they aren't HUGE but look that way when surrounded by flared fenders and a small, lean body. Go see one in person though, photos don't do this car justice. The projector lights in front and dual exhaust in back are the two favorite styling elements of most people who stopped me to ask questions about the car. (Should have put the roof up!) People are drawn to its shape- I parked it outside in a high traffic area with the roof down and sat back and watched from a small distance. There were six different groups of people who stopped to gawk in fifteen minutes--there aren't many cars in this price range that draw attention this well.

I'd found my self in a little, not-so-manly looking convertible. Did I look out of place in it? Maybe. I'm nearly 6 feet tall, and I've been told I'm built like a refrigerator. Leaving the gym and hopping into the MX-5 drew some interesting looks for sure. But did I feel out of place in it? Not a bit. Because I love driving a balanced, lively sort of machine like this. It brings out the thrill of performance motoring in the back-roads and on the track, while being a reliable sidekick when driving in the city. And that, folks, is what Mazda's little roadster is all about. You could drive to school or work, go pick up groceries, take your kid to soccer practice or go racing in a weekend autocross event, and the MX-5 never loses a thing in between.

2006 Mazda MX-5 GS (Photo: Justin Pritchard,
Why do you need one? Let's say you've graduated and you're still single and have started a fantastic job. Maybe you've got kids and a family and need something to help you get away from daily stresses once in a while. You're going to seek to spend your dollar on something that appeals to you and you only. If you are in the market for a roadster, you aren't sacrificing desire for trunk space, performance for sliding doors or enjoyment for a rear-seat DVD player. You can buy things to treat yourself, like a big TV, nice clothes or expensive vacations, but get into one of these, and you get to treat yourself every time you slip into the driver seat.
Justin Pritchard
Justin Pritchard
Automotive expert