This image was lost some time after publication.

The new Mazda MX-5 is the car I always wanted. It s a small, sexy, sure-footed sports car that outwits all those huge, over-embellished, slow-witted American muscle machines. The only problem is, I wanted the MX-5 back in 75. Things have moved on. There s now a wide range of well-balanced sports cars vying for the enthusiast s attention. Some of them are even American. And none of them are as dangerous as Mazda s diminutive roadster.

This image was lost some time after publication.

Endless reviews praise the MX-5 s purity of form, clarity of purpose and banquet of sensations. None mention the pint-sized roadster s lack of compatibility. In other words, when the MX-5 hits something, the something s driver gets out, scratches his head and says Dang! whereas the MX-5 driver doesn t get out. No wonder the official website s safety section begins with Beyond the safety benefits of having a car that allows you to react quickly to avoid hazardous situations and touts systems that help make it easier to avoid accidents in the first place.

Of course, Mazda s right: The best way to survive an accident is not to have one. There s no question that [what my two-year-old called] the baby car is supernaturally maneuverable — as you d expect from a two seater that weighs less than half a Lincoln Navigator. And although there was nothing wrong with the way the last MX-5 tripped the light fandango, the new iteration offers sharpened everything: chassis, brakes, engine, steering, gearbox, the lot. You can nip, dart, cut, thrust, hang a Louie and generally thrash the car like a stunt driving god.

Advertisement

This image was lost some time after publication.

If you can t drive this puppy fast, you can t drive. But I challenge any enthusiast worth his Sparco shoes to drive it slow. For one thing, the MX-5 s four-pot is a buzzy little thing from the basement to the penthouse, with real shove at the top of the rev range. So why wouldn t you cane it? For another, the electro-hydraulic steering is ponderous at the straight ahead. But when you fling the MX-5 into a corner, the helm springs to life. So why wouldn t you dice? The brakes are good for a laugh: strong, fade, free and progressive. So why wouldn t you slip into grin mode at every opportunity?

This image was lost some time after publication.


Why indeed? Mazda has wandered into borderline OCD in their attempt to eliminate any reason not to buy an MX-5. With a flared arch here, a power dome bulge there, the car has morphed from a suppository into an intoxicating objet d auto. The cabin s upgraded plastics and ergonomics harmonize perfectly. If it weren t for the faux metal steering wheel surrounds, tinny radio and coffee can exhaust note; the MX5 would challenge the 911 has the world s most highly evolved automobile.

Sponsored

Unlike potential Porsche ownership, it s best to approach MX5 possession by asking yourself the same question Henry V asked his troops prior to battle: Do you want to live forever? The truth is, if someone had handed me the keys to an MX-5 when I was a teenager, I wouldn t be writing this review. [by Robert Farago]

Related:
Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Mazda MX-5, Part 2, Part 3 [internal]