By Larry Lark / Herald Special Sections Writer
It’s not often that I get this lucky.
A test drive of the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring RF roadster could not have come at a better time. Mid-summer sunshine and 80-degree weather were in the offing 13 seconds after I pushed the top-down button on this hard top convertible.
There’s something about wind rushing through your hair and sun kissing (or in my case, burning) your face that makes driving – even in Snohomish County traffic – fun.
Maybe that’s the simple secret behind the car’s popularity. The millionth copy rolled of the Hiroshima, Japan, assembly line last year. And the MX-5 Miata was named “World Car of the Year” and “World Car Design of the Year” in 2016.
MX-5 is proof that, in this day and age of ever-increasing automation, there’s little that will ever be more satisfying than the perfect heel-toe shift, or a Sunday morning with empty backroads and miles ahead to conquer.
Who needs a self-driving car?
Pure and simple, the MX-5 is a driver’s car. The more twists and turns a road can dish, the better. The senses are engaged. And the price is still affordable at around $30k. All combine to make it one of the world’s most beloved sports cars.
MX-5 looks more seductive than ever. Its curves are taut. And with a lower, sleeker profile, it creates the illusion it is gripping the road – even when parked. My tester benefited from 17-inch alloy wheels and a new paint color – machine gray metallic.
Powered by a 2.0-liter, DOHC, four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission, the rear-wheel drive MX-5 generates 155 horsepower and 148 lb.-ft. of torque. It delivers an EPA rated 29 miles per gallon in combined city/highway driving.
The two-seat cabin is snug, exactly what designers intended. The hardtop stows neatly away just behind the cockpit, leaving a trunk large enough for two overnight bags. I was able to transport mid-irons, wedges and a putter to the driving range for a brief practice session.
I do have one complaint. It is a little hard to get in and out, at least for an old guy. Maybe I’ll need to start a stretching regimen or try a little yoga?
Creature comforts include heated leather seats, navigation, automatic climate control, push-button ignition, cruise control, Bluetooth, Bose sound system with nine speakers, adaptive front lighting, rain-sensing windshield wipers, high-beam control and auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Safety features include a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, dynamic traction and stability control, lane-departure warning system, anti-theft immobilizer and side-impact door beams.
If you’re looking for cheap chills and thrills in a world-class package, look no further than Mazda’s MX-5 Miata. It’s not going anywhere.
Base Price: $32,620
Price As Driven: $33,885
Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.