Decades from now, we'll look back and realize that we were wrong about performance. Not that mundane EVs can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in four or fewer seconds, but that acceleration figures didn't really matter at all, contrary to what most muscle cars from the USA might try to prove.
What matters is the thrill of driving and speed doesn't play a significant role. The Miata is proof of this theory. When you think about it, automotive engineers already figured out how to provide the ultimate thrill decades ago. Think back to the most iconic driving machines ever. Examples include the original Mini, Datsun 240Z, Lotus Elise, McLaren F1, Ferrari F40, the Porsche 911, the original Golf GTI, and Lancia Stratos. What do they all have in common? The answer is low weight.
Weight is a car's main enemy. It impacts everything; performance, handling, and fuel efficiency. By sticking to the tried-and-trusted recipe of an engine up front, a driver in the middle, and right-wheel drive (also known as rear-wheel drive), Mazda built another driving icon. And it comes standard with a manual, which we maintain is an irreplaceable form of self-expression. Yes, it only has 181 horsepower, and a Golf GTI will eat it for breakfast. But do we care? Not even slightly.
There's another big argument to be made regarding speed. With 300 hp being the average these days, the speed at which cars become fun is relatively high. A Miata is fun at all speeds - not just its top speed - and you can push it hard without breaking the law. It'll still break the law though, and 0 to 60 in around six seconds is still nothing to scoff at.
The Miata uses a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter four-pot engine that delivers 181 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. These figures don't matter. The power to weight ratio matters more, and the standard manual Miata has 0.074 hp for every pound it has to move around. That's roughly hot-hatch territory. But, as we said earlier, it doesn't matter. Sure, a turbocharger would have made it faster, but then the joys of a naturally-aspirated engine would have been lost. The Miata's 2.0-liter four-pot is peaky but is perfect in this application. Maximum power is delivered at 7,000 rpm, which means you constantly have to chase the redline for maximum thrills. It's addictive, but only in six-speed manual configuration. The automatic gearbox is clunky and has no place in a car like this. We feel so strongly about the Miata's automatic transmission that we'd physically go and protest its existence at a dealership. Some of the CarBuzz staff may even have done so already.
|Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Trims||Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Engines||Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Horsepower||Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Transmissions||Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Drivetrains||Mazda MX-5 Miata RF MPG/MPGE|
|Grand Touring||2.0L Inline-4 Gas||181 hp @ 7000 rpm||6-Speed Automatic|
|RWD||29 MPG |
|Club||2.0L Inline-4 Gas||181 hp @ 7000 rpm||6-Speed Manual||RWD||29 MPG|
The upside of having a small engine is class-leading gas mileage. Few cars can match the Mazda's EPA-estimated figures of 26/34/29 mpg city/highway/combined with a manual gearbox. The automatic transmission is more efficient, with a rating of 26/35/30 mpg.
Mazda only gave the Miata a tiny 11.9-gallon gas tank, but given the impressive combined fuel consumption figures, it should be able to do 357 miles between refills. In our week of use, the MX-5 RF sipped fuel when cruising and gave us 26 mpg despite a lot of mountain cruising and spirited back-road driving.
|Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Trims||Grand Touring||Club|
|Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Tank size||4.5 gal.||4.5 gal.|
|Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Fuel Economy (Cty/Hwy)||26/34||26/34|