Esteemed moto-journalist Chris Harris doesn’t like the Mazda MX-5 Miata. In an now-famous article, Harris shot down the MX-5 as a sports car, calling it “just a way of being exposed to the elements.” Worse, he penned that the MX-5 “drives with all the precision of a boneless limb,” causing millions to ponder what medication Mr. Harris was taking.
In the interests of fairness, Harris agreed to give the MX-5 another go, swapping his Ferrari 599 for the first-generation Miata of cameraman and editor Neil Carey. Perhaps, given enough seat time, the simple charms of the NA MX-5 would be enough to win Harris over.
Then again, maybe not. Harris seems immune to the joys of the MX-5, remarking (again) that it’s underpowered and not much fun to drive above a certain threshold. Worse, he can’t resist the obligatory “question-your-manhood-behind-the wheel” hairdresser jokes, going so far as to drive with a bag on his head for laughs.
We’re fans of the MX-5, in all its iterations. In fact, many of us have owned multiple generations of the car, and our own Nelson Ireson currently drives a 2006 Mazda MX-5 in SCCA Solo competition. It’s safe to say that, collectively, we have thousands of hours behind the wheel of MX-5s.
And, honestly, our take couldn’t be more different than Harris’s. We find all versions of MX-5 to be amusing and as communicative as you can get in its price point (new or used). With a few simple (and inexpensive) suspension modifications, the MX-5 can embarrass a surprising number of “faster” cars when the road tightens up and gets twisty.
More to the point, the MX-5 has introduced more drivers to the joy of a properly apexed corner, or a rev-matched downshift, than any other modern car we can name. In fact, we’ll bet it’s responsible for launching more pro racing careers than any other contemporary car, too.
We won’t begrudge Harris for his dislke-turned-tolerance of the MX-5, but we’ll steal a quote from the Harley-Davidson camp in response: if we have to explain why the MX-5 was so good, you probably won’t understand.