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Is the Mazda Miata Really That Great?

The Mazda Miata is the roadster darling of the car enthusiast community. They say “Miata” stands for “Miata is Always the Answer,” and some even go so far as to say they make great winter cars. Everyone seems to love the little things for their balance, affordability, and enjoyable driving experience. Everyone also knows they’re underpowered — but the consensus is that their lack of horsepower is forgivable due to the sheer joy the Miata brings to whoever is lucky enough to be behind the wheel of the beloved sports car.

I, however, have never been one of those lucky people. I’ve been enthusiastic about cars my whole life, but I have never driven or even sat in a Mazda Miata. Since I don’t know what I’m missing, I want to know: Is the Mazda Miata really that great? Has it been romanticized to the point where nobody is willing to criticize it? Or does it really live up to the hype?

Here’s what I know about the MX-5 based on my years of reading people’s opinions about cars on the internet. The NA is the most beloved Miata because it’s the original and the most analog — and because it has pop-up headlights. The NB is a lot like the NA, but worse because it doesn’t have pop-up headlights. The NC is by far the least loved MX-5. It’s bigger, uglier and it has less of the charm of its predecessors, in part because of the addition of nannies like traction control. My understanding is that the NC is a great car, but not a great Miata. Then there’s the current ND MX-5, which has received more positive critical reviews than the Lord of the Rings films.

So, good people of Oversteer, please enlighten me. Where do I begin my journey of understanding what’s so great about the internet’s favorite sports car? NA and NB models are obtainable for the price of a coffee table — so would it be worth it to buy one to drive for the rest of the summer, just so I can understand the joy a Miata can offer? If so, what should I look out for? If you’ve been bottling up a negative opinion about the MX-5, now is your chance to get it out there for the rest of the internet car community to make fun of. As a guy with no frame of reference, I want as wide of a range of opinions as possible, here. Find a Mazda MX-5 Miata for sale

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Eric Brandt
Eric Brandt is an author specializing in Oversteer content, new car reviews, and finding the best car, truck, and SUV deals each month. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Eric can often be found exploring the north woods on his 1983 Honda Gold Wing when the weather allows it. Father of four, husband of one, and unapologetic minivan enthusiast. Eric mastered driving stick by having a 3-cylinder Chevy... Read More about Eric Brandt

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  1. I’ve never driven a Miata before the 4th gen ND came out. It was after seeing some Youtube video reviews on the Fiat 124 Spyder Abarth that got my attention. Test drove the 124 Abarth & liked the open top feelng but the clutch & shifter were lacking. After spending a long night thinking about can I make a small car work as a daily the 2016 Mazda Miata Club with Brembo / BBS wheels was the next test drive. What an awesome ride ! I drive pretty aggressively so I really tested this car out on all roads. Spell binding ? Ya you can say that. Hard to not make excuses to not go for a drive or take the long way home from work. One reviewer who owns a WRX STI called the ND the best sports car under $50,000. Its slow car fast. Does not  get you into trouble with the law ! So I couldn’t resist this car as an enthusiast it checks all the boxes for me. Bought in March have not looked back would do it all over again. Best clutch / shifter I’ve felt in a car. Plus its quick. Funnest car on the road today & I drive in the Chicago area in all weather. With snow tires it does very well. As long as your not above 6’2″ or overweight this car works very well. Can’t say anything about the previous generations of the Miata but wished I tried one sooner in my life !  

  2. I had a ’92 NA I drover year round for a number of years. Loved it. It was simple, reliable, and fun. The smallish tires and small engine output I viewed as a good thing. It’s one of the few cars you can drive the wheels off of and still be legal. Almost all new cars have extremes in power and grip. That’s fine (progress), but those wanting driving fun now have to basically go to a track to even drive their “fun” cars at 5/10ths. I remember driving my Miata on Loveland Pass in CO doing true four wheel drifts within the speed limit. It was so gratifying and balanced, it didn’t matter how fast it actually was. I learned more about driving dynamics in my Miata than I ever woukd in a 370Z, Camaro SS, M3, etc. If you’re getting those modern cars to four wheel drift on the street, you’re probably about to fly off the mountain. In essence, for those on a budget, there is no equal. 

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