Drive the Mazda Miata Grand Touring

It’s been 27 years. Over 1 million sold worldwide. They’re a fixture at racetracks and autocross courses across the country every single weekend. They’ve had V8s, turbocharged rotaries, and electric motors shoehorned under their hoods. They’ve consistently been among the most affordable, versatile, and easily modifiable sports cars on the planet. They’ve been the darling of Jeremy Clarkson, Motorweek, and, well, the entire internet.

And yet, there’s still work to do. Because as brilliant as the Mazda Miata is, it still needs defending — if you belong to the church of Miata, that is. And in 2017, it’s astonishing every gearhead in the world doesn’t belong yet. If you’re a convert, it’s shocking the little roadster doesn’t garner total adoration. And with each new superlative piled on or auto writer waxing poetic about it, it only seems to make its detractors double down.

Chevy could make the Corvette look like a Cobalt SS, and that would be OK as long as it still had a big pushrod V8 up front. Ford could unveil a kerosine-powered two-cylinder hybrid Mustang, but as long as the romper stomper 5.0 is available, no big deal. But a cheap, compact four-cylinder roadster that can be had for well under $30,000 just seems to raise the ire of the “No Replacement for Displacement” crowd. Those old bastards can be vicious — and loud.

There are a few journalists (notably Chris Harris) who don’t buy into the “answer is always Miata” school of thought. And that’s fine. No car is going to appeal to everyone, and a healthy dose of skepticism keeps things from getting too adulatory.

But what frustrates the faithful is the braying from the men’s rights wing of the auto world — the type of guys who loudly explain they couldn’t step inside a Miata because it’s a “girl’s car,” and women couldn’t possibly appreciate cars for the same reasons men do. These men shout at a stoplight that you’re driving a “hairdresser’s car” because apparently your identity and sexuality is inherently tied to what you drive.

At what point do Miata fans, to quote the disgraced 36th president, look at the haters and say, “F*ck ’em. We don’t need ’em.”? To be fair, it’s historically murky as to whether Richard M. Nixon was a fan of the Miata, but the sentiment is valid nonetheless. Are these stupid dismissals the last gasps of a stubborn and collectively wounded male ego? Are they delusional people who believe no car with fewer than eight cylinders could ever live up to the memory of that GTO they drove 50 years ago? Were they this dismissive of the Porsche Speedster, Austin Healey Sprite, Alfa Romeo Spider, or any of the great corner-carving roadsters back then, too?

And yet, Miata fans still try to convert the skeptics. Because again, for the millionth time, the Miata is the spiritual successor to those classic ragtops. I’ve had more transcendent driving experiences behind the wheel of a Miata than I have in cars three times the price and with three times the power. And since 1990, the Miata has been the closest thing we’ve had to a sports car for the masses. It’s infinitely rewarding yet incredibly approachable. It’s not fast, but it’s brilliant to drive at its limits.

Source: The Cheat Sheet