Our world is chock-a-block full of celebrities that have re-invented themselves, like Lady Gaga and Caitlyn Jenner. And then there are those that we heartily wish would re-invent themselves, like Donald Trump.
But then there are legends, where it’s difficult to believe there’s any need, indeed, any room for improvement. Take the Mazda MX-5 Miata, already the best-selling roadster of all time. Having long outpaced the classic MG, how could anyone make it better? And why?
So anticipating the made-over Miata was both terrifying and exhilarating. The fankids wanted more horsepower, more bounce to the ounce. At a cruise night, I once walked past a Miata with a Corvette engine, and shuddered. Is this what the world wanted? A monster Miata?
Of course my angst was unfounded, and the unveiling of the 2016 MX-5 revealed a car that looked like a baby Jaguar, menacingly crouched low to the ground, with slitty eyes full of subversive intentions. And ready for the kittenish hijinks you’d expect from a car that had shed 250 pounds.
Slithering in behind the wheel, I noticed this Miata had a screen on the dash, where there had been none before. This was a Miata with technology, namely, the Mazda Connect system. But it was still unabashedly a fleet-footed firebrand, wrapping me up in deliciously ruinous influences. A gearshift that thrust ahead in divinely short strokes, while the 155 horsepower engine snarled gorgeously in approval. Peering out over the flared Soul Red Mica hood, I was submerged in the little roadster’s dark spell, and spun out over the highway under a hot sun, impervious to better judgements.
Capricious summer weather intervened, and as I tore along Major MacKenzie, the sky sliced open and raindrops pelted down. I pulled over, and with the quick release of a latch, yanked the soft top back up in seconds without leaving my seat. I picked up my long tall Sally of a friend, (not really her name), who unfolded herself into the diminutive roadster with glee. So it wasn’t just my imagination, there really was much more room inside than before. Even in the rain, driving was blissful.
The next day, I stopped in at a dear friend’s repair shop. As I guided the cheeky little roadster in, we were immediately swarmed by a shop-full of Miata enthusiasts, who popped the hood, murmuring at the changes. My buddy, whose Miata is of a considerably older vintage than the 2016, insisted on going for a drive, and we tore up the Don Valley – in the HOV lanes, because we were two. He marvelled at the pick-up, and the well-tuned SkyActiv power, which reached 100 clicks in about six seconds.
Then, I had a date with my comedian/singer friend, who is something of a baby Jaguar herself. An MG afficionado, she was crushed when the MG stopped production, and wanted to see what all the Miata fuss was about. Doing a thorough walkaround before sliding into the passenger seat, she commented on how low it was and wondered if she’d be able to see out the passenger side. Of course, it wasn’t a problem, and she took in the blurring scenery with delight as we screamed up the Allen expressway.
With my cupboards bare, I decided to go grocery shopping, at my favourite Polski supermarket in Mississauga, so off we sped. I loaded up on three different kinds of kielbassa, pastries, sauerkraut, potato salad, plums, cow candies and a few other essentials. The whisper of a trunk handily accommodated my purchases, and in fact, the little car smelled more delicious than perhaps Mazda intended. I’ve always wanted to eat up the roadster, and it was mouth-wateringly irresistible this time around.
While the Miata has always been eye candy, the tight and supple curves of the new two-seater garnered more gawkers than ever. Miata fans appeared in the darnedest places – parking lots, street corners, my own building’s underground. Luckily I had the important facts memorized, otherwise, I might have had to haul out the owner’s manual.
When it was time to return the little darling to its rightful owner, we swept along the open lanes one last time, taking bold, unyielding strides along the blacktop, and revelling in the firm corners.
For a moment, I toyed with the idea of heading south, to Mexico, maybe. Just me and the Miata. Forever.
But then, who knows what Mazda has in store for 2017?
I wouldn’t want to miss that. Not on your kittenish life.