With the new Chevrolet C7 Corvette convertible already rolling out of Bowling Green, the next closely-guarded roadster secret is the upcoming 2016 Mazda MX-5. Aka the "Miata", it's world's top selling continuously produced twin-seat roadster.
Join the Club:
In the final year of the NC MX-5, Mazda offers 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club. Go fast side racing stripes and the tell-tale black Club on the fenders, standard.
- Folding hard-tops is one major option. A 6-speed paddle shifting automatic gearbox the other. However, give up the standard 6-speeed manual, forego Bilstein dampers and limited slip differential.
- No Bose (Blows?) here. USB - nah. Bluetooth handsfree and power seats - fuggit about it. Leather -uh, uh (unless you count the steering wheel rim and shift lever boot.)
- Seats with plenty of torso and hip bolstering are done up in black ballistic nylon, low on cush.
Spare Set of Tires Recommended:
Who will fork over $27 grand for a confined capsule on wheels?
The kind that also owns a race driving helmet. And who likes to make mince-meat out of a road course.
Slight understeer permits constantly feeding the MX-5's throttle and getting on the progressive, fade-free brakes as late as your stomach can take. It takes a lot of work to upset the balance and attitude of this front engined, rear driver. With nary any lift, the MX-5 Club virtually rotates out of a corner telepathically.
Executing about 10 fatigue free 2 mile hot laps on south track at Joliet, Illinois' Autobahn Country Club road course, we at "Drive...He Said" would have been good for another 10. Further proof that the MX-5 Club is track balanced: each of the Bridgestone Potenza super sticky RE050 tires melted about 1/32" inch of tread depth perfectly evenly, minus any flat-spots.
Then there is the civil side of the MX-5 Miata Club. Clutch engagement is creamy. The close gear shift pattern remains mostly forgiving in the case of some sloppy handling. The trembling shift lever at idle displays the utter lack of filtration between machine and man.
And talk about steering communication. The MX-5 helm is the voice constantly feeding your brain with minutia about what is happening where rubber meets pavement. Fluid steering build-up and un-wind, with the hydraulic assist, are as close as you can get to an un-assisted rack.
We mentioned the lack of aforementioned creature comforts (available on the pricier Grand Touring trim).
Why must the driver awkwardly turn between the seat-backs to access the fuel filler door release inside the locking storage bin?
- Air conditioning gets taxed on moderately warm days.
- The MZR-LFX 2.0L DOHC gas straight-4 engine, making but 169 hp, becomes strained on straights on all days.
- Short gearing dictates 4th gear for cruising at 30 mph. At 70 mph the mill is spinning at 3200 rpm in 6th.
- Standard 6MT Club Bilstein dampers and 205/45Y-tires on darkened 17" wheels don't agree with concrete interstate. Dialing back tire pressures make the ride slightly more tolerable.
When closed (UP) the folding hardtop shaves a 1/2"-inch from the soft-top. And adds about 100 lbs. on the scales. Seven-footers can always drive top-less. The MX-5 trunk trounces all other hard-top cabrios. Two 20"-inch roll-aboard suitcases fit tightly.
September 3rd will see the official unveiling of just the fourth generation MX-5. With the new model to go on sale next Spring. Until then the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Club should hold over enthusiast roadster fans nicely.
Special thanks to Kevin Rodgers and the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois for their track hospitality www.autobahncc.com
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