Somehow, the experience of driving a proper roadster is invigoratingly masculine — though all its trappings fly in the face of tough guy traditions We’ll use the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata along the back country roads of England to demonstrate.
It’s small, compact and nimble. The traditional masculine image of a guy is big, bulked up and strong. It’s lines are delicate and beautiful, seeming masculine only in the sense that a man can present himself as stylish and cultured. All of those elements might not jibe with each other at first glance, but there is still something indescribably cool and eye-grabbing when a man takes command of a roadster like the 2016 MX-5.
A big part of that appeal is the fact that an MX-5 is boldly impractical. It’s a car for the individual — the man who seeks only driving sensation and fun. A woman can come along for the drive, but the owner is forgoing a family and piles of gear that might weigh him down. He’s denying the practical, responsible life solely to throw around a little car that can bite off life’s sharp corners.
The manual transmission helps qualify it as a proper guy’s car. First of all, driving a manual is a man’s skill lost on the lazy boys of the world. Like changing the oil, fixing a flat or field dressing a bull elk, enjoying a stick shift is the kind of thing a man enjoys. There’s just something about grabbing a gear — while the guy next to you merely toes a gas pedal and steers.
The 2016 MX-5 packs a 2.0 liter, 155 horsepower, four cylinder engine. With a car stripped down so light, that’s ample power for highway acceleration. That lightness also aids the absolutely tight handling. That’s key for a roadster. You must be able to whip it around the
The MX-5 really comes into its own on the tight country roads of England’s Midlands. While reviewing this car, I had to run from London to Manchester. I could’ve run up the M1, but that’s always miserable. So, I charted a longer, but more fun course on the side roads, stopping in Birmingham for a bit before finishing in the Cradle of the Industrial Revolution.
The MX-5 really hunkers down at speed. And, though its engineered for maximum reliability in turns, its short wheelbase means a guy can still let the back end out a little — especially on dirt roads.
Admittedly, the cost of about $25,000 (depending on features included) might seem a little steep for a car so small. After all, on the practical side, you’re only getting two seats and a truck big enough for a vent doll. You can snag a serviceable, entry level SUV from a couple American and Japanese automakers for about 25 grand. The fully, kitted-out Grand Touring model I tested out sells more north of $30,000. That can raise both eyebrows.
However, you’re paying for the 2016 MX-5’s revolutionary styling. For this model year, Mazda saluted it’s 25+ year old roadster with a more aggressive, sweeping look growing from a new, signature nose and serpentine headlights.
There’s a reason why the MX-5 Miata is the top seller for Mazda and the best selling roadster of all time. It looks great. It knows what it’s expected to do and does it. And, it’s defiantly fun to drive.