How to be Popular: Cruise around in a 2014 Mazda Miata MX-5

2014 Mazda Miata
The attention getting, summer-extending 2014 Mazda Miata MX-5

Sun on your shoulders, hair in the wind, and summer seems to last forever.

I hate September. It’s the end of summer, that the party is over, and it’s time to get back to work, back to school, back to the seriousness of life.

So I had mixed feelings when I was invited to test drive the 2014 Mazda Miata MX-5 in early September. What fun would that be, right? The party of summer is over.

2014 Mazda Miata Mx-5

The Miata MX-5 we test drove: its size lets you feel the thrill of the road, but luxury appointments pamper driver and passenger

Catcalls? Bring ‘Em!

But the week was warm and sunny and perfect for running errands around town with the top down, so I decided to extend summer and put the top down every chance I got. My first trip in the Miata was to the local high school to pick up a friend’s daughter. As I sat at an intersection waiting to turn left, sunlight steaming down and my hair blowing a bit in the breeze, a Jeep passed me in the right lane; the fellow driving yelled out the window, ‘Nice car!” and I had to smile. While not exactly a catcall or a flattering pick up line, it felt nice to be called out in traffic.

The next afternoon I headed to the grocery store. I’d left the house with the top up, but when I stopped at a light that I knew would be a long one, decided to put the top down. The guy in the minivan next to me watched with part envy, part admiration. As he nodded his head in approval he gave me the thumbs up. It was cool to be the envy of cars around me, to be the momentary center of attention.

It’s nice being this popular

Mazda Mitata

The Miata MX-5’s hard top means winter temps and rainy days are a breeze

Then, there was my family. “There’s nothing like the ear-to-ear grin your younger daughter has riding in that car,” my husband said after taking her to a friend’s house in the Miata. And it was true, but for me, too: Watching each daughter relax with a satisfied smile on her face, a smile that shows how special she feels being in this car (and of course, for being alone with me right?), was satisfying to me, too.

Clever storage solutions for hiding your stuff

My daughters begged to do back to school errands in the Miata, so instead of our usual team approach to back to school prep, I made individual trips with them. We hit Staples for school supplies and the mall for new shoes. Normally on our shopping trips we just toss the shopping bags into the back seat; this time, though, we were dependent on the trunk for storing our stuff. And, when I wasn’t alone in the car, it was just easier to put my purse in the trunk. I could lock my wallet and phone in the small safe-like compartment in the wall between the front seats. It’s a brilliant space: It locks so you can leave your wallet in the car when you have the top down, and it’s where the gas tank release is, so again, if you leave the top down, no one can toy with your gas tank. And leaving your purse in the trunk just might be the smartest thing: if you’re driving around with the top down and your handbag on the front seat, it might be simple for someone to snatch it off the seat when you’re stopped at a light or parking your car.

Mazda Miata

The cabin of the 2014 Miata Grand Touring edition’s heated leather seats make for a comfortable ride; paddle shifters and a leather steering wheel with phone and radio controls add to the high-end experience Window controls are in the center console next to the cup holder, which has a cover that slides back

The true sports car feel: Feeling the road and feeling exhilarated

This year, back to school shopping meant twice the mileage, but also, twice the time spent with my kids, and in a happy place. It was pretty nice. I remember being on the passenger side of that feeling, too. My dad had an MG Midget when I was growing up. An MG aficionado, he would never drive anything else (except a short dalliance with a Beretta) until the MG became nearly impossible to maintain. Needing to have another true sports car in the driveway, he bought a first generation Miata. He loved the feeling it had of authenticity: true sports cars don’t flatter you with luxuries or a pretty exterior; they thrill you by bringing you closer to the road, by challenging your skills and guiding you through every curve and powering you over every hill. When you’re done driving you feel a little tired and a little exhilarated, because you just drove that car.

Mazda Miata

The Miata’s door panels have mesh pockets, great for holding sunscreen (or maps!)

If they come with a little luxury, all the better. The Miata MX-5 Grand Touring Edition I test drove was all that: a luxurious leather interior, a retractable hard top that stores between the passenger seats and the surprisingly roomy trunk, a zippy engine that never hesitates, and a sound system you can hear perfectly even with the top down on the highway. With the top down on warm days, you’re the center of attention, but don’t rule out top-down driving on cool fall days, either; it’s the California way, after all: put the top down, pump up the heat and turn on the Miata’s heated seats. The exhilaration of endless summer is all the better.

Mazda Miata

The Miata’s dash is a refined grouping of necessities: driver information, climate control, entertainment. Buttons at the top on either side of the hazard button put the top up or down with a single push

What We Loved

Easy, one touch retractable hard top

Fun, fun, fun drive

Sweet leather seats

Flexible interior space including elastic pouches on the door panels, center cup holders and the ‘lock box’ between the seats

Roomy trunk that will hold a couple of duffle bags or small suitcases

Available in manual or automatic transmission

Heated seats

Bluetooth hands free phone

Uses regular fuel

Gets 21 MPG city and 28MPG highway

Mazda Miata

The ‘lock box’ between the seats is a great space to leave a wallet, phone or other small item in a parked car with the top down. The gas door release is here, too, to protect the car from gas thieves

What you Need to Know

Two passenger car

Does not come with a navigation/entertainment screen

Only one power outlet (not a USB port)

Passenger seat airbags has a weight sensor (disables the airbag when smaller passengers are in the seat)

Has up to 43 inches of leg room; I’m 5’8” and was quite comfortable; my dad is 6’3” and he is comfortable, too

3 year/36,000 mile warranty

3 year/36,000 mile roadside assistance package included in purchase price

Base price of the Miata MX-5: about $28,000 (soft top)

Base price of the Grand Touring Edition: $30,550; price of the model we drove: $32,735

Disclosure: Mazda provided the Miata MX-5 for my test drive; opinions here are all my own.

Mazda Miata

Inside the ‘lock box’ between the seats; that little loop is the gas door release

Mazda Miata

The bottom of the center of the dashboard: the car’s only power point, an AUX jack for plugging in your phone, and seat heater controls, plus a rubber matted shelf area to hold your phone or keys


Mazda Miata

A control panel to the left of the steering wheel lets you turn off traction control for a sportier drive experience; a shelf underneath is great for holding small objects like a phone, change or keys

Mazda Miata

To put the top down, first press the release button and pull down the security latch; when putting the top up, the last step is to re-engage the security latch

Mazda Miata

The trunk of the Miata holds a couple of small-ish suitcases or duffles; my bag, pictured here, fit easily

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss