It was almost exactly a decade ago – autumn, 2005 – when I first got my hands on the keys to the then-brand-spankin’-new third-generation (NC) Mazda MX-5 and motoring as I knew it would never be the same again.
I had previously driven earlier versions of Mazda’s venerable little roadsters, but this car, no longer labeled a Miata here, was bigger, more muscular-looking and was powered by the brawniest engine Mazda had fitted yet (brawny being a relative term here). Within the first kilometre of that first drive, I was sold, and promptly returned to the dealership to fill out the paperwork.
Having had a string of luxury-brand German sport sedans that provided occasional bouts of reliability, I was ready for a big change. My commute had expanded and the promise of the MX-5’s fuel efficiency was almost as enticing as its expected reliability. At least that’s how I pitched it to my wife, trying to justify the tiny, rear-wheel-drive convertible as my everyday car for all seasons. Fortunately, she saw the giddiness this toy of a car instilled and put up no real fight.
I only managed to keep it for four blissful years until the reality of adulthood (aka the birth of my son) required me to return to the world of sport sedans. Of all the cars I’ve had – and there have been some really great ones – that black 2006 MX-5 GS still stands out as my favourite. I loved that car.
Between tantrums and when not eating the last of my cereal, my son is pretty great too, so I guess it was a reasonable tradeoff.
The reason the MX-5 Miata is so passionately adored by drivers nostalgic for ‘60s British roadsters (but not their cantankerous electrics); by countless racetrack-thrashing enthusiasts; and by me, is simple. In fact, it is simplicity that makes the Miata a winner. Mazda dialed in the formula of “Light = Right” with the first-gen (NA) Miata in ’89 and have maintained it to varying degrees ever since. It was tiny, it was not powerful, but it was balanced and light. This makes them sensational fun on both the road and the track, where they have proven to be competitive, durable and economical to campaign.
On autoTRADER.ca: Mazda Miata Buyers Guide (1990-2015)
When the second generation (NB) Miata arrived, fans of the NA generation moaned and whined that the new car had lost some of its soul by becoming more refined, more powerful, bigger and (gasp!) heavier. Then when the NC arrived, both the NA and NB owners complained.
Of course “larger” and “heavier” were only relative to the preceding model, but the reality was, the newer cars were still truly Miatas – diminutive compared to most everything else on the road, and relentlessly fun.
This time round, Mazda has given the Miata fans absolutely no reason to moan about size and weight of the new car. The ND you see here is both smaller and lighter than the NC MX-5. And it’s less powerful.