I take the car seat out of our Honda Odyssey and am presented with a choice. For roughly 40 minutes of evening driving from Margate to Schurmans Point, around Summerside, and back home, do we take the 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Coupe with its massaging seats and Burmester audio? Or do we opt for our 2004 Mazda MX-5 Miata? It’s fall in Canada, but the heat wave experienced by much of the continent has presented us with a lovely day. Granted, the evening temperature is fast falling, and the boy has a runny nose.
It’s snot a difficult choice to make. The roof goes down, his window stays up, the heater cranks up, the garage door goes down, and we’re off for a father-son bonding session in the best car in the world.
Okay, maybe it’s not the best car in the world. It’s not an E39 BMW M5, it’s not a Ferrari 488 GTB, it’s not even a 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata. But right here, in this moment, at this temperature, with warm air wafting up from the floor, with these starry skies, with this six-speed’s shifter and this rev-happy 1.8-liter and the supple ride and the abrupt turn-in, my Miata is without peer.
Of course, I knew it would be. That’s why the remarkable CAD $89,595 Benz stayed at home. The Miata’s level of engagement tricks my body into lowering its blood pressure while alerting all of its senses. You become so aware in the Miata: the shifter’s slot into second sends the faintest tremor up my whole arm, I hear wild animals calling to each other under bright moonlight, I watch as the sky’s darkness adopts countless different hues, I smell the potatoes being turned into french fries at Cavendish Farms. And all of that awareness, together with the messages being delivered from the Miata to the seat of my pants, takes the stresses of the day and throws them overboard into Malpeque Bay.
I wish more evenings ended this way (particularly with the chocolate-vanilla swirl at Kool Breeze), but there are other cars to drive, lawn tractors to ride, and minivans to load. Since acquiring my Miata in May — and updating you just the once — I’ve only driven around 2,300 miles, taking the Miata’s odometer just beyond 45,000. Rated by the EPA at 20 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, I’m averaging 26 mpg in my 13-year-old Miata despite my appetite for redlines, thanks to the rarity with which I encounter intersections at which I must stop.Issues? On a handful of occasions, the battery’s positive post hasn’t enjoyed sweet communion with the Miata’s positive connector, and the Miata will not, on those occasions, start. My baking soda/toothpaste/olive oil concoction cleans the cloudy headlamps well, but only briefly. A friend arrived this past weekend with a special Meguiars kit that should have more lasting effects. (As an aside, the Autoglym roof protector I used works a treat.) The sun visors are useless for anyone of stature, so I unscrewed the driver’s visor for better visibility. The 12V outlet doesn’t work, meaning the Miata had to be pulled alongside the Odyssey in order for the tire pump to be plugged in when the Mazda’s tires needed topping up. The seats are by no means great, lacking support down low, up high, on the sides, and anywhere else you can think of where support would be nice.
But the seats aren’t that bad. Cloudy headlights can be remedied. I know how to counsel the battery post and the battery cable connector. These are minor issues by most used car standards, and they become all the more irrelevant when takes into account the joy derived from driving the Miata.
This late September heat wave will quickly end. Fall will strike soon. Winter will make its forthcoming presence known with frosty mornings. The Miata will be winterized, stuffed into the back of the garage, and ignored until the end of April. But in the remaining days, I’m certain my average weekly miles will increase.
Cool outside temperatures and warm cabins create the most delightful convertible cabins, and the knowledge that the Miata’s 2017 is about to come to an end necessitates maximum use.
I can hear this evening calling.
[Images: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]