2001 MX-5 Miata New Car Test Drive
In spite of an invasion of two-seat sports cars from other manufacturers, the Mazda Miata remains the benchmark. It offers truly outstanding, classic sports car handling. Rear-wheel drive and light weight make the most of its twin-cam four-cylinder engine. Amenities are traditional elegantly designed sports car: simple and functional.
It isn't the most powerful, or the most luxurious. It isn't the most exotic or the most sophisticated. But in terms of an affordable roadster, which is what the original British sports cars were, the Miata is near perfection. And, following the classic sports car definition, in a pinch it can be raced. It is the best-selling two-seat roadster of all time, according to Guinness World Records; more than 500,000 have been sold worldwide, half of them in North America.
For 2001, Mazda has increased horsepower, enlarged the brakes, stiffened the chassis, and upgraded the interior, making this the best Miata of all time.
Two models are available: Miata ($21,180) and Miata LS ($23,930).
In previous years, the Miata models were organized as packages. The base Miata now comes standard with air conditioning. Also standard are alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, a CD stereo with four speakers, and power windows and mirrors. The base model comes with black cloth and a black convertible top.
LS adds leather upholstery, a tan convertible top, 195/50VR15 tires in place of the base model's 185/60HR14s, a Torsen limited slip rear differential, power door locks, cruise control and a Bose CD/cassette stereo with six speakers.
An optional Suspension Package includes a sports suspension with strut tower brace is available for the LS ($495); this package is also available for the base model ($995) and includes the Torsen LSD and 15-inch wheels and tires. Anti-lock brakes ($550) are an option on the LS. A removable hardtop ($1,500) is available for driving in cold climates, bad neighborhoods or on race tracks.
All Miatas come with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. For 2001, the Miata gets the largest horsepower increase in its 12-year history, raising the output to 155 horsepower. A 5-speed manual gearbox is standard; a 4-speed automatic ($900) is optional; and a 6-speed manual ($650) is optional on LS models.