Fit and finish Everything about the 10th Anniversary Miata is special -- even the key, which has a blue p lastic grip to m atch the paint and upholstery. Though it's hard to justify such an outrageous price, you have to be impressed with the attention to detail. Mazda obviously tried hard to make this car unique. For instance: The bucket seats have blue suede inserts. The Nardi steering wheel and shifter knob are two-toned -- blue and black. The convertible top is blue. There's a wind-blocker to reduce buffeting in the cockpit. A special badge on the left front fender tells what number the car is (ours was 1,462 out of 7,500). The car has built-in fog lights and a body molding kit that gives it a more sinister look. And that hardly scratches the surface. There's a full array of luxury features, including a CD player and cruise control. Curiously, though, air conditioning and anti-lock brakes are still optional. All Miatas were redesigned for 1999. The trunk is not bad for a tiny car. I was able to put two good-sized boxes in it. But space is at a premium. Long-legged types may find the Miata tough to squeeze into and hard to get comfortable in. However, interior room is slightly better on the 1999 models. Such things as power windows, mirrors and door locks make driving the Miata a breeze. Those without such a large budget will be pleased to know that a base model Miata still starts at about $20,000 -- placing it well below BMW and Mercedes sports cars. I've tested the Miata almost every year since it has been out. I didn't like it much at first, because I thought it was such a blatant rip-off of MG and Triumph sports cars of the past. But over time I've discovered it's impossible not to like the Miata. Regardless of its heritage -- let's face it, Japan isn't known for its roadsters -- the Miata is what is: the best sports car on the planet for under $30,000. And sometime this year when sales pass 550,000, the Miata should surpass the 1963-81 MGB as the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car of all-time. 1999 Mazda Miata 10th Anniversary Edition Base price: $26,875. Safety: Dual air bags and side-impact protection. Price as tested: $28,225. EPA rating: 24 mpg city/29 mpg highway. Incentives: None.
- Service & Repair