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2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Review By John Heilig

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2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club

By John Heilig

SPECIFICATIONS - 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Model: 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club
Engine: 2.0-liter 16-valve I4
Horsepower/Torque: 167 hp @ 7,000 rpm/140 lb.-ft. @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 91.7 in.
Length/Width/Height: 157.3 x 67.7 x 49.4 in.
Tires: P205/45R17
Cargo volume: 5.3 cu. ft.
Fuel economy: 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway/26.2 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 12.7 gal.
Curb weight: 2,593 lbs.
Sticker: $29,260 (includes $295 delivery charge)

The Bottom Line: The Mazda Miata (nobody calls it the MX-5) fits my definition of a sports car to a T. It is small and nimble with a nice engine that delivers enough power, but not too much. It's been said before, but the Miata is the modern version of my old MGA 1500 roadster.

Back in the day (1962) when I bought my MGA 1600 Mk II coupe, I remember paying something like $2,300. The MGA's modern reincarnation, the Mazda Miata, has a sticker price of $29,260. the Miata has a bigger engine, more power, a better transmission and the hardtop folds neatly into the trunk. Based on inflation, it's also cheaper and better.

There's also the longevity factor. The Miata has been with us for 20 years, essentially unchanged. True, the former pop-up headlamps have been replaced with a pair that fit neatly into the bonnet (oops, hood). But the styling, nearly ideal; at the time, has remained the same, low, sleek, rounded and sporty looking.

As with the old MGA, entry and egress aren't that easy, especially for senior citizens. But once you get into the Miata it's quite comfortable. the seats have good side support. They're manually adjustable, but once you get it right it stays right.

With nothing in the console-mounted cup holders, your hand rests on the console and the shifter falls neatly into your right hand. Put a couple of cups into the holders and shifting isn't quite as much fun. there are water bottle spaces in the doors if that's all you need.

The shifter itself is nice. It's not unlike that of the MGA, except it has two more ratios.

Mazda's 2.0-liter four cylinder delivers 167 horsepower and 140 lb.-ft. of torque. It's a torquey engine in all gears. I usually stopped at fourth gear (probably due to habit) or fifth (when I remembered there were more). There's still good torque in sixth gear, so if you're on a longer run you don't have to keep shifting.

For those of you who remember MGAs, there's also synchromesh in first, which means you can actually downshift into first, something that required special skills in the MG.

Sports cars are meant for winding roads, and the Miata doesn't disappoint. The suspension is firm, but not too firm. The Miata has excellent handling and is a total ball to drive.

There's a double wishbone front suspension up front and a multilink suspension in the rear. In addition, the four wheel disc brakes do a good job of stopping the Miata, and they're not sticky.

The instrument panel is another reminder of the old days. A tachometer dominates the two round gauges that have white on black lettering and red pointers. Even without satellite radio, the audio system is simple; one knob for on/off and volume, one knob for volume. The HVAC has three knobs; mode, temperature and fan speed.

With the top up, the trunk is a small 5.3 cubic feet. My guess is that it's still bigger than the MG's. We had no problems loading groceries in there (it was tall enough for paper bags). There's also nice storage behind the seats for small packages. Retrieving those packages can require some contortions, but it's a learned skill.

I was impressed with how quickly the top retracted. Those of us who have struggled with cloth tops in sudden rainstorms will appreciate it.

There are some who believe that a sports car has to have enormous power to qualify. I'm not one of them. I prefer nimble handling and, if anything, underpower that requires some finagling with the transmission to extract the best performance. The Miata qualifies as the latter. It's fun to drive, although entry and egress are a problem because of age. It was good to drive a British-type sports car again without the specter of Lucas, Prince of Darkness looming overhead.

2013 The Auto Page