2013 Mazda Miata Club update: Daily driving a small, lightweight roadster

There are generally two opposing opinions on daily driving a small, lightweight sports car: those who cannot begin to fathom why somebody would do so, and those who wouldn’t have it any other way. The skeptics stand opposite the die-hards. Look one way and get one set of insight; turn the other and get exactly the contrary. It’s a total clash of standpoints and I wasn’t sure how I would feel about daily-driving a small, lightweight sports car until I started doing so. 

This wasn’t the first time I had considered doing so. For a very brief time I daily drove a C6 Corvette Grand Sport. It was, in a word, punishing. But now I daily drive an NC Miata, and the experience has largely been amazing. Therapeutic, even. Far and away the opposite experience from what my Corvette provided.

2013 Mazda Miata Club PRHT

The difference is in the cars. It’s in my commute having changed drastically, but the car makes a huge difference as well. The C6 GS Vette rides harsh. It’s stiff and bounces over road imperfections. The inputs– clutch, steering, shifter– are heavy. Ingress and egress requires prior stretching. It made commuting and difficult and living with it in a New England city was best described as the same.

By comparison, the Miata floats over the pavement. It couldn’t care less about potholes. The inputs are light. It’s easy to slice through traffic, easy to park, and easy to maneuver. Visibility is good and it doesn’t take much thought to navigate day-to-day city life. In the three-and-a-half months I’ve had it, the Miata has meshed perfectly with my life, needs, and wants.

Commuting, especially with the roof down, has been a joy. Something I genuinely look forward to – even if it’s only ten to fifteen minutes each way to and from work. The drive brings smiles and laughs and is regularly the source of actual, serious fun. Hearing the exhaust as the revs climb through first and second gear is like my everyday adrenaline soundtrack. Sharp city corners are a test of my gusto. Shifting through the gears is rewarding and enjoyable.

2013 Mazda Miata Club PRHT

It’s truly spectacular daily driving a car that’s fun to be in and fun to drive. And the juxtaposition versus the all-too-common full-size crossovers in the area is cause for that many more laughs. I’ve never felt this way about my commute and the charm has still barely worn off. 

That said, things aren’t perfect. Road imperfections, especially when cornering, do upset it a bit. Seven year old tires don’t help. Same goes for road noise. Even around town and sub-30 MPH speeds the tires make noise. And how tiny the car is serves as a double-edged sword, allowing for quick maneuvers between traffic and easy parking but also having been the source of a couple near-misses. The car’s low height and the fact that so many vehicles stand tall now means that drivers of trucks or crossovers occasionally don’t see me. Thankfully nothing worse than needing to use the horn has resulted. Which reminds me, the horn sucks and I need to replace it with something louder and more authoritative.

2013 Mazda Miata Club PRHT

Daily driving the Miata and having it as my only source of transportation means it’s been subjected to a few long trips in addition to the daily commute. One such trip was from Connecticut down to Delaware. For one night, nonetheless. Five and a half hours each way and no qualms whatsoever. Roof down, A/C on, ear plugs in after a few hours, enjoyable in every regard. Another trip was a recent drive up to the Hudson Valley (the Shawangunks, for those locals) for a day hike. This day trip was in the heart of fall, peak leaf season. Roof down, heat on. Five hours in the Miata over one day. The Miata was an absolute pleasure to be in the whole time. And, equally importantly, was an amazing back-road companion, inducing laughs and smiles. 

2013 Mazda Miata Club PRHT

So am I a Miata-as-a-daily convert? For now, yes. My time with the car as my daily driver has been fun and enjoyable and everything I imagined it to be. But winter is coming, and it’s coming soon. The real test lurks just ahead, in the next season. It’s time for some tires that can handle the challenge.2013 Mazda Miata Club PRHT

16 Comments

    1. I have, and there’s a good chance I’ll buy/install one in the spring. Roadster + bike rack = the best.

  1. First thing I did when I bought my Miata, was to buy a set of good performance tires. World of difference. Still need a better horn though.

  2. First thing I did when I bought my Miata, was to buy a set of good performance tires. World of difference. Still need a better horn though.

  3. Considerable jealousy here, and I don’t even like convertibles! The Miata is in so many ways the essence of what I like in a car– light and tossable, responsive and peppy, great driver feedback, rwd/manual… it ticks a lot of the right boxes. If Mazda made a Miata sedan, or better yet, a Miata wagon, I might have my forever car. I think the closest I’ll come is if I can find an imported E30 Touring.

      1. I love that, but it negates the roof-down experience part of what makes the Miata so special…

        1. Oh yeah, I know, but convertibles just don’t appeal to me. I drove a CJ-7 for years that had a hardtop, soft top, bikini top, hard doors, soft doors, and half doors, but I typically ran it with the hardtop on and the doors off. Driving open-topped doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest.

    1. It’s not a perfect solution, but have you tried a Toyobaru? Admittedly a small trunk, and a small back seat, but might be feasible? Or if you’re masochistic, an RX8?

      1. I like the Toyobaru twins except for the styling– they look like angry Toyota blobs from the front, and generic Subaru blobs from the rear. And I generally think coupes are a waste of space and potential utility compared to sedans and wagons. Mechanically, they’re damned good, though.

        With the extra half doors, the RX8 has slightly better space utilization and the styling is interesting if not pretty, but I just don’t see the point of the rotary engine. The smooth high revs are cool, but the fuel efficiency is lousy for how little power is made, and the reliability/longevity is terrible.

  4. I’ve passed 20k on the ecoboost since taking delivery late last November.
    I swapped the rent-spec 17″ all seasons for the 240TW Yokos on the 19″ Brembos. We just had a cold snap… and those tires get really hard.
    Considering a swap back until March, even get more chunky tires. But these stock tires are 700TW. They’ll be a while.

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