2004 Mazda MX-5 Miata One Month Long-Term Update: Life Gets In The Way

Since purchasing my 2004 Mazda MX-5 Miata out of a driveway in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia little more than one month ago, I have not driven the car nearly as much as I’d hoped to.


Of course not.

I’m a relatively young father of two little ones. I have taken on increased responsibilities at TTAC. I must drive a manufacturer-supplied test car each week. Our family is scheduled to move to Prince Edward Island this week. I’m busy.

Also, this is spring on the east coast of Nova Scotia. The weather has been, shall we say, iffy.

But I’ve driven my little roadster enough to learn plenty about Miata life, almost all of which is good.

First, driving other vehicles now brings me very little joy. The Miata is so involving 100 percent of the time — not just because of the delightful six-speed manual but also wind in hair, lively steering, seat-of-the-pants communication, the aroma of every fast food restaurant — that other vehicles are becoming decidedly clinical. It’s like going from a Nashville Predators home playoff game to Amen Corner at Augusta National.

Golf is great. Sure. Whatever. But where’s the action?

Second, just because the Miata has made the experience of other vehicles joyless, from an automotive enthusiast’s perspective, does not mean the experience of driving other vehicles is without pleasure altogether. I appreciate our 2015 Honda Odyssey EX even more now than I did before.

The Odyssey isn’t known to offer the quietest of cabins, but compared to the Miata? After a Miata journey, top down on a late May evening with the heaters blasting because it’s 45°F, the entire Odyssey experience is akin to fine dining with the Lexus LS after lunching with a Lada Riva.The Miata is clearly not all bliss.

Top up, for example, it’s just not worth it. This car was purchased by me for me as a summer toy in Prince Edward Island. With the top up during Nova Scotia’s coastal, showery spring, all of the noise from the Miata and its traffic companions enters the cabin and booms around aimlessly. Moreover, while I’m not claustrophobic I do feel unwelcome in the top-up Miata, as if it’s asking my three-year-old to drive, rather than me.

Fortunately, he can come along for the journey. Child seat installation is a breeze and the passenger airbag is turned off with the key in the centre console.

It’s a 13-year-old car, so it’s not perfect. The Miata likes to crank a bit before starting if it’s been sitting for a few days. The bolts holding the wiper arms down are very rusty. The column-mounted signal stalk is as chintzy as any part you’ll find on the cheapest new car on sale today. The cupholder cover pops open too easily and is located where my arm wants to be if I’m to operate the shifter.

But my local dealer, Steele Mazda in Dartmouth, chosen for its proximity and Miata knowledge, gave the car a thorough inspection following an oil change last month. Issues? Aside from those bolts and wipers that needed replacing ($20 for the pair) and a driver’s floormat that isn’t properly affixed, nothing.


Of course not.

[Image: © 2017 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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