Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Business

May 7, 2014

Miata marks 25 years of fun, spirited driving

Twenty-five years after its debut as a lightweight, fun-to-drive, sporty roadster, the Mazda MX-5 Miata still travels a road all its own.

With a starting retail price of less than $25,000, the rear-wheel drive Miata is arguably the most affordable two-seat sportster in the United States.

Only the diminutive and decidedly not sporty, 70-horsepower, 2014 Smart fortwo Passion Cabriolet, with a starting retail price of $18,680, has a lower starting price for a two-seater.

With just a few electronic amenities offered, the Miata stays true to its heritage — a car to drive and to enjoy driving, not a car to inhabit while talking on the cell phone and following programmed directions from an in-car navigation system.

In fact, today's Miata doesn't offer a factory navigation system or a large, colorful display screen for the dashboard. Some versions of Miata don't have Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, either. And forget about finding a heated steering wheel or seats with power adjustments.

The 167-horsepower Miata is, simply, all about driving pleasure and how a low-to-the-ground car happily hugs the pavement, how it readily scoots forward and how it can make a driver feel at one with the vehicle.

No wonder the Miata has long been sought after by weekend racers who find the lightweight two-seater to be an impressive racetrack competitor.

Perhaps best of all, the 2014 Miata is a recommended buy of Consumer Reports, where predicted reliability is average.

Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $24,515 is for a base, 2014 Miata with 2-liter, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission.

The lowest starting retail price for a 2014 Miata with six-speed automatic is $26,775.

Standard equipment on base Miatas includes a manually operated vinyl soft top that comes in black only, manually adjustable cloth-covered seats, manual air conditioning, manual door locks, mesh wind blocker and 16-inch tires.

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