Ask any Jalop what the best small, inexpensive sports car is, and the answer will be Miata. But what is the best first car? Which is the safest? What is the best in the snow? The answer is still Miata.
Since it was introduced in 1989, the Miata has proven wildly popular, and has sold over 850,000 to date. It was also reliable, which drove yet another nail into the coffin of the prematurely buried British sports car. Lotus, MG, Austin Healey, and TVR could provide driving excitement, but for a limited time until it invariably broke down due to the electrical witchcraft known as "Lucas." The Miata took the classic formula of lightweight, rear drive, and small displacement from the Lotus Elan and added a dash of reliability and a pinch of build quality to create a dependable modern classic.
But how is Miata an answer to every question? Sure, it seems to be the perfect choice for a beautiful Sunday drive, but what if it snows? What if you crash? What if you commute? What if you aren't a girl? Luckily, as a Miata owner, I'm more than qualified to espouse the virtues of owning one!
What's the best first car?
Like everyone else, I had prejudices against the Miata when my Dad suggested it as a first car. "It's a girls car!" and "It's too small!" were frequent refrains in my house. However, after researching Miatas, they started to make a modicum of sense. There isn't room to fit 20 people that can distract you. Girls love convertibles…it's a great date car (forget about missing a back seat)! And on a nice day, what's better than leaving high school with the top down and blasting some Huey Lewis? Also, since they're slow in a straight line and handle great, it's pretty tough to get in a crash.
What is the safest car?
Some may say a Volvo 940 or an SUV would be the safest car to own. However, if you manage to overstep the lofty handling bounds of the tiny Miata, it is still unbelievably safe. I used to race go-karts and figured I could drive what is basically a street legal go-kart way too fast all the time and not get in trouble. You quickly learn that you can't when the car is in a tree on a twisty road. My Miata took the hit like a champ, saved my life, and taught me a lesson at the same time. If the car was bigger, like a Jetta, a Corolla, a Town Car, or a Jeep, it surely would have hit more things or rolled over. Luckily, it's low enough to make it under a tractor-trailer…so no worries there either.
What car is best for the environment?
The Miata has the stars, clouds and sun as a roof. It isn't a hybrid, but it lets the driver enjoy the environment instead of pretending to save it.
What car is the best in an autocross?
Yes, I know the Seven, Atom, XBow, Elise, and 911 GT3 RS are still around. But, if you entered C Street Prepared at the 2009 SCCA Solo2 Nationals, you would have been obliterated by Miatas. Out of the 33 cars entered, Miatas took 27 of the first 27 spots. That is more than domination, if that's possible. It may not be the fastest on the day, but you can almost guarantee that a Miata WILL win its class.
Who was the 21st President of the United States?
Chester A. Arthur. Ok, the answer to that question isn't "Miata," but Arthur and his muttonchops surely would've loved one.
What is the best commuter car?
No brainer. With a small engine, light clutch, and nimble handling, its perfect. The car is economical, regularly returning 30 MPG and can dart in and out of small openings with aplomb. If you're tall and you have a long commute, think about putting the top down to stretch out…it's kind of cramped in there. The heavily modified 1996 pictured in this article has been my daily driver for the last six years. It starts every morning and gets me to work on time every day with a smile on my face. No complaints.
What is best in the snow?
I expect this could raise some eyebrows. The WRX, Evo, Grand Cherokee, or really anything with all wheel drive may be thought of as the best in the snow, but the fact is AWD doesn't matter. The tires are what matter. A Miata with a set of Bridgestone Blizzaks will get through any snow while allowing you to be an absolute hoon at the same time. A snow-covered parking lot is absolute heaven, with perfectly controlled power slides and wild donuts coming with just a dab of the right foot. Sure, if the snow is deep you're driving an expensive snowboard, but if the snow were too deep, why would you go out anyway?
What if you aren't a girl?
Good. Girls love a guy in a convertible.
Through each generation, the Miata has gotten slightly heavier and a little more powerful, but it has never lost its focus: to be as pure as a car can be. Some may say it's impractical and small, but I never have to pick anyone up from the airport or help someone move. In a Miata, you just get to enjoy the drive…isn't that what it's all about?
This piece was written and submitted by a Jalopnik reader and may not express views held by Jalopnik or its staff. But maybe they will become our views. It all depends on whether or not this person wins by whit of your eyeballs in our reality show, "Who Wants to be America's Next Top Car Blogger?"