I love Mazda, probably more than I do any other manufacturer. Scratch that – as of this writing, I love Mazda more than any other manufacturer. There, I said it. I’m sorry, Jeep, Mazda just has its mojo no in a way no other company does. And, if I’m honest, I’m head-over-heels in love with the ND MX-5 Miata.
Which is why I’m so frustrated by Mazda’s option packaging on its world-famous sports car. Put simply: if you want some things, you can’t have others. And if you want other things, you can’t have some. Not that these are catastrophic flaws, the models are great across the board, but there’s a few items that have me, and many others, questioning the reasoning behind Mazda’s offerings.
What is my issue with the availability of options, both mechanical and on the comfort front, and how does it affect the theoretical purchasing of an ND MX-5 Miata? Read on to find out.
Mazda has assembled the three-tier trim levels for its MX-5 Miata: Sport, Club, and GT. The difference between what each entails is deeply frustrating when broken down. I’m not the only one to complain about this, as is evident across the Miata boards and even in some reviews alike. So what’s the issue?
Pairing. There’s a major fault in the lack of ability to pair items that are designated to each trim level.
For example, should you want a limited slip differential, an extremely important option for racers and those who drive their cars both hard or in snow, you’re forced out of the base “Sport” trim and into the Club model. But then should you crave leather, heated seats and a more insulated roof, you have to step up to the GT (Grand Touring) tier, and in doing so lose the LSD. This is a heartbreaker for even the most casual of autocrossers who want a bit more comfort and likewise for commuters who want a more cooperative rear differential, and it’s a shame everything cannot be paired together on the same model.
As it turns out, the only way to incorporate all of the “desirable” options on a Miata is to buy a Fiat 124 Abarth. But even then, you lose some of the Miata’s fantastic character as the snappy 2.0 naturally-aspirated free-revver of an engine is replaced by the up-on-power but down-on-speed turbocharged powerplant from the 500 Abarth. That combined with the extra length and heft and deliberately angry styling simply detracts from the Miata’s lightweight, light-on-its-toes character, in turn transforming it to a more complex, less raw experience. And, frankly, turning the Miata into the 124 makes it less fun, furthering why it’s such a shame that you can’t get the Abarth’s options on the MX-5.
Thus, my “perfect Miata” doesn’t exist. Without turning to the aftermarket there is simply no way to have the limited slip diff, heated leather seats, and the thicker roof all on the same car. And so the question comes about: is it easier to add an LSD to the GT, or the luxury items to the Club?
Are you better off upgrading the mechanicals or the interior? And, ultimately, why won’t Mazda let you buy a car that’s simultaneously the best-performing and most comfortable? Herein lies my dilemma. Theoretically, of course, since I’m definitely not shopping for an ND Miata. Definitely not.
Maybe Mazda gets its customers better than I think I do, assuming that those who want to track it and drive it hard and in the snow won’t care about luxury items, and that those who want the softer, more comfortable and cushy and luxurious side of things won’t care as much about the way the rear-end performs. Maybe they’re right and I’m wrong. Maybe it is stupid to want it all in a Miata.
All I know is that the perfect car doesn’t exist as a Mazda Miata, and it pains my soul. Luckily though, it’s an incredible car in any guise. And the aftermarket does exist to add niceties or differentials, should one want or need those things. But seriously, Mazda, what gives?
Man, talk about first-world problems, right? Which model would you go with? Would you prefer to buy a GT and add the LSD or buy a Club and add heated seats and a better, more insulated roof? Sound off in the comments.