I am a pretty typical suburban mom. I drive my station wagon to sporting events and school activities, I shuttle my kids to school and slumber parties. I also grocery shop, make trips to the mall, and head to the gym several days a week. So when I am told that I get to review the Mazda Miata MX-5 "just for fun," I start daydreaming about my days as a teenager riding around in my friend's MG convertible. As a matter of fact, I think the last time I saw the inside of a sports car was in the 80's.
I am fortunate enough to have an entire day without children, so I make plans to spend it in the Miata. Luckily, the day turns out to be one of those amazing fall days where the temperature reaches into the mid-70s, the sky is clear, and the wind is still. I surprise my husband for lunch and then run some errands (grocery shopping is much more fun topless - in a topless car, I mean). I also decide it will be fun to take my 13-year-old on a "date" later in the week. He has never been in a convertible and his eyes pop out of his head when I pull the Miata into the driveway.
One of my first priorities in the car is to figure out how to get the top down. I review the Mazda website before the car arrives, and it indicates that you can put the top down from the comfort of the driver's seat, so I unlatch the lock mechanism and try to push the roof back and down. I quickly figure out that I do not have the arm strength, or length, to manage this while sitting. I get out of the car and quickly push the top into the well behind the seats. Mission accomplished.
The next priority for me is to find places where I can store all my stuff. It's amazing: I thought that my kids created all of my "bag-lady" tendencies, but I find I have nearly as much gear when riding around without them. The center console area is completely used up with a double cupholder, so I find the best place for my sunglasses, cell phone and iPod is in the compartment that sits flat between the seat backs. This seems convenient until the first time I need my shades. I discover there is no way to reach that compartment without coming to a complete stop, and turning your body around to open the latch. I resort to setting most of my stuff in the seat next to me. I place the library books and my laptop bag in the trunk and I still have room for a couple gallons of milk and a loaf of bread. There are two other storage compartments located behind each seat; they are not big enough to hold much more than a novel and maybe a sack lunch.
Surprisingly, there are a couple of features on the Miata that are family friendly. The front passenger seat has Latch connectors and there is a manual airbag switch that allows you to completely disable the passenger airbag (in case you're brave enough to place a child in that seat). The car also comes standard with side-impact airbags.
I enjoy driving the MX-5. It has an automatic transmission, but I like its manual "sport" mode. It gives the car a sportier feel by letting me shift gears myself without the hassle of a clutch. The manual shift mechanism is on the stick itself, but there is are up and down shifting paddles on the steering wheel. I accidentally hit the steering wheel paddles several times while turning corners, so I wonder if that's an issue driving in manual mode all of the time.
Now, back to that date with my oldest son... What a blast! Top down, sun up and hand in the air with a surfing action, my son keeps wishing that he could see his friends. After dinner, the top goes up and the lights go on. The red glow from the dash is proclaimed as "tight" and we head to the evening's event. Before entering the theater at the high school, I flip down the mirror to check my lipstick, and oops, no lighted mirror. This, apparently, is a luxury item not bestowed on this car. The night is complete with my son's Green Day CD blasting from the stereo all the way home.
Overall, this car is a really fun diversion from my real life. I understand its appeal and appreciate its no-frills sporty image. It is not a mom-mobile in any way, but with its reasonable price tag, side-impact air bags, and fairly small engine, it might be a fun car to buy for your responsible teenager. Did I just say that? Strike that from the record - NOW - before my son reads this!
*For more information on the Mazda Miata and its safety features visit Cars.com. For questions or comments regarding this review write to MotherProof@msn.com.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS LATCH Connectors: 1 Seating Capacity (includes driver): 2
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny
SENSE AND STYLE Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Not Really Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Jim Flammang||Cars.com National||May 10, 2005|
|Matt Nauman||TheMercuryNews.com||November 18, 2005|
|Emily Hansen||Mother Proof||November 4, 2005|
|Bob Golfen||AZCentral.com||October 22, 2005|
|Mark Glover||The Sacramento Bee||October 21, 2005|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||October 19, 2005|
|Larry Printz||The Morning Call and Mcall.com||October 7, 2005|
|Dan Neil||Los Angeles Times||October 5, 2005|
|Steven Cole Smith||Orlando Sentinel||September 22, 2005|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||August 19, 2005|
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