Miata ‘spring’ test

The Mazda Miata Club with top down on sunny Sunday. (Bud Wells photos)

Someone seeing me on a mid-February morning in a little Mazda Miata scooting through the 6-inch-deep snow asked, “Why would you be out in that, with four-wheel-drives sitting at your house?”

Well, the deep snow was out there, as was the Miata with a manual transmission and Bridgestone Blizzak tires, so why not?

Spring must be just around the corner, I thought, when the 2018 MX-5 Miata Club convertible was delivered to me. It seemed so, too, on a Sunday, driving the rear-wheel-drive roadster through the countryside in 65-degree warmth.

Two days later, the Mazda’s in the snow with top in place.

Two days later, though, I was near-stuck between the street rise and the curbing dropoff from my driveway, but rocking the Miata just a bit between 2nd and reverse gears got me out into the driving lane and I got around okay in 2nd, 3rd and 4th gears.

The Club version of the Mazda offers a sport-stiffened suspension with Bilstein dampers, adding to its great handling capability on a 90.9-inch wheelbase and curb weight of barely more than 2,300 pounds. It performs decently with a 155-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine (148 lb.-ft. torque) and 6-speed manual transmission, and averaged 31.4 miles per gallon overall.

The interior is inviting with dark leather/suede Recaro seats and red piping. Snugged up in those seats, the ride can get rough and noisy. It is nearly impossible to access the cupholders, which sit between the seatbacks far behind the driver.

Brembo brakes, the Recaro package, 7-inch infotainment screen and red convertible top pushed the Club’s price past 30 grand, all the way to $35,240. The Miata has no rearview camera; of course, with the top down it isn’t needed. To drop the top, unhook a latch at the windshield header and push the cloth top down into the area behind the seatbacks, where one more good push latches it into the recessed area behind the small cabin space. Trunk space is only 4.6 cubic feet, whether the top is up or not.

In “fun-to-drive” assessment, the Miata ranks high among sports cars. Among its chief rivals is the Fiat 124 Spider, which, ironically, is built by Mazda on the same assembly line as the Miata, in Hiroshima, Japan.