PINEHURST, NC and YONKERS, NY — August 13, 2019 — I must admit that I wax nostalgic when we get a Mazda Miata MX-5 Soft Top to test drive. My best friend in high school, and still my very good friend today, had a Triumph Spitfire in high school. Yes, he was the cool guy. He also got one of the first Mazda Miata’s to show up in Bristol, Tennessee, in what had to be 1989. I believe he still has that original and has had several newer models since that one. Several years ago, in his 60’s, he was still driving one, and I honestly do think it keeps him younger. (If you have ever gotten in and out of one, you know it will, at least, keep you sprier and more limber).
Our 2019 Mx5 was a white convertible, referred in its literature as a ‘Soft Top’, as shown, with a manual transmission featuring six forward gears and reverse. It has a four-cylinder SKYACTIV-G engine with VVT.
What is a SKYACTIV-G engine?, you ask. Okay, here’s how that goes – A new-generation, highly-efficient, direct-injection gasoline engine that achieves the world’s highest gasoline engine compression ratio of 14.0:1. That is important because it achieves significantly improved engine efficiency thanks to the high compression combustion, resulting in 15 percent increases in fuel efficiency and torque. Our manual transmission should get 43 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg around town for an average of 29 mpg. I like those numbers in my pocket rocket. The automatic transmission has the same combined mpg as well. Laurie didn’t care much for the stick shift, but I could harken back to the days, when an automatic was new technology, so driving a stick was something I learned a long, long time ago.
I don’t think everyone knows what VVT might stand for either, so for all you ‘gear heads’, I apologize, but for all of you who either readily admit you don’t know what a lot of these terms mean, or fake it like you know when you don’t (you know who you are), here goes. VVT means ‘variable valve timing’ (VVT), which is the process of altering the timing of a valve lift event, and is often used to improve performance, fuel economy and emissions. Don’t you feel enlightened? I know I did. The four-cylinder engine produces 181 horsepower at 7,000 rpm (revolutions per minute) and 151 lb-ft torque (foot pounds of torque) at 4000 rpm. “Foot-pound” is the amount of turning force applied to move one pound a distance of one foot around an axis at a radius of one foot. It means it will launch this pocket rocket forward quickly if you know what you are doing. Okay?
It also has a SKYACTIV MT six speed manual or automatic transmission. Basically, it allows you to shift more easily with a shorter stroke. You can find out more about it in its entirety at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYVq6E_TkoQ from the guy who designed it translated from Japanese to English.
If you are into performance, (and if you are thinking about a sports car, you probably are,) the Mazda Miata MX5 boasts a Sport-tuned exhaust system, a Sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein dampers, limited-slip differential, and a shock tower brace, all on our manual transmission model.
The last “ACTIV” piece I came across was the i-ACTIVSENSE Package, which is new for the 2019 Miata. What is i-ACTIVSENSE you ask again. Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE is an umbrella term covering a series of advanced safety technologies which make use of detection devices such as milliwave radars and cameras. They include active safety technologies that support safe driving by helping the driver to recognize potential hazards, and pre-crash safety technologies which help to avert collisions or reduce their severity in situations where they cannot be avoided. Now they are talking my language – how to keep me and whoever is with me safe in a two-seater sports car.
When a sports car meets a truck, or SUV, or any full or mid-sized car in an unpleasant way, the sports car, like a motorcycle, usually takes the brunt of the damage. Most of the i-ACTIVSENSE is designed to keep you out of those situations, and I am all for it.
Here is a list of what i-ACTIVSENSE covers:
1. Adaptive Front-lighting system (AFS) points the low beam headlights in the direction that you steer;
High Beam Control (HBC) automatically switches headlights between high and low beam to help you move more comfortably and safely;
2. Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) automatically controls vehicle speed to maintain the distance with the car ahead;
3. Rear Vehicle Monitoring (RVM) alerts the driver to vehicles approaching on either side from the rear during highway driving;
4. Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) detects lane markings on the road surface and warns the driver of imminent unintentional lane departures;
5. Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW) helps the driver avoid hazards by sounding an alarm when there is a risk of collision;
6. Pre-Crash Safety Technology reduces the risk of an accident;
7. Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) and Smart Brake Support (SBS) help the driver avoid frontal collisions and reduces the damage resulting from an accident; and
8. Acceleration Control for Automatic Transmission (AT) which helps avoid sudden take-off when the accelerator pedal is pressed by mistake.
That’s a lot of “let’s keep ME out of an accident” in a sports car that starts at $25,730.
Our Miata also featured the premium Bose 9-speaker stereo system with the head restraint-mounted speakers, the Bluetooth and USB ports, the text-messaging support and E911 emergency notification system, and the Mazda Connect 7-in. display from which to control it all. Good backup view in a car this size. Not only that, you can access Mazda Connect functions via touch screen, steering wheel controls, voice commands, and a collection of buttons around a knob on the center console.
It is a true sports car, first and foremost, meaning it has room for two people only, and enough room in the trunk for your weekend bag, your girlfriend’s or wife’s weekend bag and possibly a suit bag with your evening jacket and her evening dress. That’s it, and you may have to fold over the suit bag ensuring that your jacket and her dress might get wrinkled ever so slightly. But what the heck, it’s a weekend getaway, and the cleaners will take care of everything on Monday. Go for it!
Yes, it is a little interesting to watch a 70-year-old man get into and out of a sports car this size, especially with the top up, but you know what? I did, and once I was ensconced in the driver’s seat, I was comfortable and happy, and nostalgic, for all too short a time, because I was transported back to a time when things were simpler, and fun, and we thought life was about the top down, going fast, and traveling with our beautiful girl.
Maybe sports cars when you are over 50 are a way of escaping reality period. If so, I say “Bring ‘em on”. Nothing wrong with seeing yourself as Martin Milner in “Route 66” (most of you will have to Google that one) and capturing, or enjoying, your/our youth.
Besides, it looks really nice in our garage and doesn’t take up much room.
I want one.
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Tune in to the Thursday, August 15, 2019th Driving Me Crazy radio broadcast “Live” or “On Demand” at 10am EST, or when you have the time and inclination to listen. Access this broadcast using the following hyperlink: http://tobtr.com/s/11450065.
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Flow Mazda of Fayetteville, 1945 Skibo Road, Dunn, NC 28334.
Learn more at https://www.flowmazdafayetteville.com The dealership is about an hour’s drive from Pinehurst, NC.
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New Rochelle Mazda, 149 E Main Street, New Rochelle, NY 10801.
Learn more at https://www.mazdaofnewrochelle.com The dealership is about a ½ hour drive from Yonkers, NY.