Why the little Miata is adored by millions

A humble roadster that can make you love all cars
by Paulo Rafael Subido | May 21, 2018

'It's a machine with humble performance figures, but it completely connects you to the road underneath.'

What more can be said about the Mazda MX-5? We've written so many pieces about it already. There's the 2014 Mod Rides article about my very own first-gen Miata; the cover story that we shot in Barcelona for the global reveal of the fourth-generation model in 2015; the all-generation feature in 2016 written by Jason dela Cruz; a teaser of the RF variant on our YouTube channel; and my love letter to my beloved roadster published on our website in January.    

Obviously, this model is very close to our hearts--especially mine. So, when we came up with the idea to do a multi-car cover with the cars we love for our 150th Issue, I almost had to take a step back.

You see, I'm too much of an MX-5 fanboy already, and I'm not afraid to admit it. Somebody somewhere might hold my admiration for that convertible against me, so I had second thoughts about choosing the current Miata as the 'car I love.' But I quickly put that thought out of my mind. I had to be true to myself. The desire to keep it real surged through me. Hand me the keys to the RF, dammit.

Can you see a bit of Porsche in the profile? PHOTO: Ian Magbanua

Raw and real--that's what the MX-5 is like. I won't even go into each iteration's evolution and driving character. All the models have unique personalities, but they are essentially the same in spirit and feel. Believe it or not, even the sound the door makes when you close it is consistent throughout all four generations. But if you want to get into the technicalities, here's how I can best summarize the Miata experience: When you're behind the wheel of an MX-5, a smooth asphalt road feels like bliss, while a rutted one feels like hell.           

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In other words, you can't find a more honest car than this one.

What Paulo enjoys doing when he thinks no one is looking. PHOTO: Ian Magbanua

It isn't the fastest in this bunch, nor is it the most powerful. It's a machine with humble performance figures, but it completely connects you to the road underneath. Driving a Miata has made me more sensitive to the movement of the suspension arms, the grip of the wheels, and the feedback of the brakes and the steering. It has awakened my senses and made me focus on the task at hand--driving.

When it comes to smiles per gallon, this car is tops. PHOTO: Ian Magbanua

Because of its honest and no-frills demeanor, the Miata is an excellent baseline from which to evaluate and appreciate other vehicles. The unique driving sensations offered by other cars are enhanced when I experience them right after driving this humble roadster.

The front-wheel-driven Volkswagen Golf GTI can be driven more aggressively than the rear-wheel-drive cars in this group. Power delivery from its turbocharged engine is breathtaking. The Lexus LC500 is the definition of grand touring, but its steering feel doesn't detach you from the road underneath, and the exhaust note of its 5.0-liter is an aural joy when you put the pedal down. The Nissan GT-R is an all-wheel-drive technological marvel that hugs the road with tenacity, yet it offers a rawness you'd expect from a track-focused vehicle once you flip all the switches to R mode. And then there's the handsome Toyota 86, tossable and tail-happy with its 200hp boxer engine. Like the Miata, it can make you a better driver, too.

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We prefer a manual, but the RF has an awesome automatic. PHOTO: Ian Magbanua

In case you haven't already noticed, I'm a fan of all cars. And I've said this time and again: Carving motion through time and space is something that I live for. My job is special to me because of that, and because it gives me a chance to share these stories with all of you through our magazine and our website.           

My name first appeared in the staff box in Issue 28, way back in March 2007. When I first stepped into my cubicle in the old Summit Media office on the basement level of Robinson's Galleria, I already knew that Top Gear is an awesome brand. But never did I imagine the kinds of cars I would get to drive, or the roads I would get to explore with those amazing cars. This 150th Issue cover shoot is a snapshot of a time in my life that I will remember until I am old and gray.

Trivia: The return to four studs means the car is much lighter now. PHOTO: Ian Magbanua

And there's my humble Miata, the car that I'll always go home to, the one that keeps me grounded after my driving adventures around the world. It's my personal reminder to always be grateful and humble--this way, I can keep on appreciating new adventures on new roads. And that's why we're still here, 150 issues on. Driven to succeed, but always grounded. Always keeping it real. With that mindset, we can only open our arms to whatever blessings lie ahead.

There's a twisty road within those mountains. We can sense it. PHOTO: Ian Magbanua

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