Mazda MX-5 Honolulu HI

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2006 Mazda Miata MX-5 Compact Sports Car

Home » Car Reviews » Mazda » Mazda MX-5 Miata » 2006 Mazda Miata MX-5 Compact Sports Car

2006 Mazda Miata MX-5 Compact Sports Car

…Continued


SAFETY

The MX-5 may be economical, but it doesn’t skimp where it counts, like in the safety department. Mazda’s Advanced Restraint System (MARS) includes a plethora of features that combine for a much safer ride. Dual front airbags are complimented by dual side airbags that provide torso and head coverage in the event of an accident. There’s a passenger deactivation switch for the front airbag, important for those with babies on board or those who often drive alone.

A tire puncture repair kit comes standard, as well.

The Antilock Braking System (ABS) includes four-wheel disc brakes (the front are ventilated; back are solid). It’s also equipped with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), which provides appropriate braking power to the wheels depending on a variety of measurements like wheel rotation, speed and direction. It also helps distribute the total braking power effectively to every wheel. No brake pumping necessary.

The three-point safety belts have pretensioners and force limiters to keep occupants in place for proper airbag deployment. Outside the passenger cabin, side-impact door beams absorb much of a collision’s energy. These lessen the severity of the crash and the likelihood of serious injuries to occupants.

Every MX-5 also comes with an engine immobilizer �' to literally stop thieves in their tracks �' although a more extensive anti-theft system can be added as part of a package for the Grand Touring edition. Also optional are run-flat tires with a tire pressure monitoring system, and a trunk light.

Warning lamps abound, letting the driver know if there’s a problem with any of the following: airbags, battery, brakes, engine, low fuel, high-beams, low oil or seat belt.

And if you can manage to get yourself inside the trunk �' into which Mazda claims one can fit a whole golf bag �' there’s an emergency release inside. Hey; in today’s world, you never know what could happen.

RIDE/HANDLING

Living up to and surpassing its already stellar reputation as the world’s favorite little sports car, the MX-5 has improved its acceleration and braking capabilities for 2006.

Suspension comes in the form of double-wish bone in the front and multi-link in the rear. Upgrading to the special suspension package �' which is sport-tuned with Bilstein shocks and limited slip differential �' on the Grand Touring model will slightly reduce the ride quality. But those who go for this package are most likely not too worried about a cushy ride, anyhow.

Overall, the features, along with the high-quality ride and handling, make this a tough car to beat in its price range. The wider wheels wells and bigger tires are a huge improvement on an already-amazing car.

The ride in the MX-5 (minus that sport suspension system...

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2008 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring Compact Roadster Sports Car

By Derek Price   

It drives like a go-kart, has the reliability of a Japanese car and simple, timeless styling.

It drives like a go-kart, has the reliability of a Japanese car and simple, timeless styling.

Mazda MX5 (2008) - enlarge

What was tested? 2008 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring ($26,520).

Options: Premium package ($1,250), suspension package ($500), satellite radio ($430).

Price as tested: $28,700

As a guy who worships two-seat sports cars and has owned a few Miatas, you'd probably expect me to gush over this car -- the new Mazda MX-5.

Normally I'd write about how wonderful it is -- how its exhaust note sounds like an angelic orchestra, its driving feel makes you glad to be alive, and its body is so sexy that photos of it should be banned from school libraries -- but that would be all too predictable.

Yes, I'll say up front that this is a great car. Despite its drop-dead-gorgeous competition from General Motors, the MX-5 is still a better car than the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. It's the world's best car when you consider smiles per dollar, and it's the car I'd buy if I wanted something new.

It's amazing fun for the money.

It's amazing fun for the money.

Mazda MX5 (2008) - enlarge

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I'll tell you what I really think about the MX-5: Mazda is messing it up.

When Mazda first introduced the Miata in 1989, it was a direct blessing from the automotive gods. Here was a tiny, good-looking vehicle with the spirit and spunk of a classic British sports car, only it had Japanese reliability. Basically, it was an MG that started when you wanted it to.

Today's MX-5 -- Mazda doesn't call it the Miata anymore -- sticks with the formula that made it the best selling sports car of all time. It's still immensely fun to drive. It still has timeless good looks rather than trendy, short-lived styling. And it's still affordable.

But some recent developments are troubling, and they could eventually kill this car if Mazda stays on the same path.

It's becoming less pure with added weight and a bulkier body.

It's becoming less pure with added weight and a bulkier body.

Mazda MX5 (2008) - enlarge

The biggest problem is how the MX-5 is getting bigger and heavier, exactly the opposite of what Mazda should be doing if it wants to make a better sports car. Consider:

-- I'm a big fellow. When I get into a sports car, I ought to be crammed into it like an elephant in a phone booth. In this car, though, there were 2-3 inches of space between my big gut and the door panel. That means this car is way too big.

-- It now comes with an optional power hard top. That's a good idea on big, heavy luxury cars, but on a sports car it's like wearing a mink coat for a lunchtime hike through Death Valley in July. It's a terrible idea.

Granted, some people appreciate the extra space and the convenience of a power-folding top. But in both those instances Mazda's engineers are solving problems that don't exist. The MX-5's soft top is an industry benchmark that's amazingly easy to put up and down, and -- serio...

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