When an Editor of Evo Magazine, probably the most respected magazine in Europe for driving enthusiasts, says the Miata is s***, he is playing with fire. Legions of Miata fans will take issue with his statement.
Chris Harris titled his article “The Mazda MX-5 is Pants (Ducks)”. We didn’t know what that meant until we read further into the article and saw his exact meaning.
He claims the Miata is not “exciting”… that it’s not a sportscar except in the most outward of specifications. That it’s softly sprung and has a terrible driving position. Compared to the typical cars that Evo tests, it’s all true. But he misses the entire point of the Miata: it’s meant to be a pure sports car, not an extreme example of engineering for a even more narrow slice of the market. Mazda is just not in business to make their own GT3 or Lambo supercar type of statement.
The Miata has always been about purity and simplicity, and early reports on the upcoming next generation point to even more of the same, with even less weight and more economical motors. Bottom line is that 900,000 buyers wholeheartedly agree with a formula that has been phenomenally successful.
We do however have to ask ourselves if this is all that Mazda is capable of… once there was a MazdaSpeed Miata, detuned to only 178 HP for a chassis that was by their own words capable of 250. Many of us liked that torquey engine… some people modified it to the mid-200s or even 300 HP.
Autoweek told us in August 2007 that the Miata would get the new MazdaSpeed 2.3 liter engine as an option, and that move would have silenced critics once and for all. But Mazda decided not to spend the money to accommodate the engine in the existing chassis. Many of us didn’t like that decision. And those pesky S2000s, with 80 HP more than the regular Miatas from an engine that defined the joys of driving, are now off the market for good. An awful shame, leaving Honda with absolutely nothing of interest to enthusiasts (a beam-axle Civic R in Europe? Who cares!).
But take note, Mazda, you are about to be undone by Toyota and Subaru who will produce a pair of rear wheel drive twins offering 200 HP and 300 HP. Even though they are hardtops (for now), and therefore not true sportscars, they will be seen as such and they will certainly define an entirely new performance market for Japan when they come to market at the end of this year. Toyota intends them to be the rebirth of sporting Toyotas. Will a 160 HP (or maybe 170) Miata be able to compete with those two cars when it comes to market in 2012 or 2013? We have some doubt….