2008 Mazda MX-5 – Click above for high-res image gallery Just as it appeared that winter was finally drawing to close here in Michigan, one of the definitive summertime cars turned up on our doorstep -- the Mazda MX-5 Miata . Somewhere back in the middle part of the last century, small, lightweight, roadsters flourished with a variety of models available from mostly British manufacturers. Names like MG, Triumph, Austin-Healey and Lotus defined the genre. Unfortunately, a number of factors such as random intermittent windshield wipers, intermittent headlights, intermittent ignition, persistent oil leaks and predisposition for the bodies to convert to iron oxide soured the reputation of these and other car builders. This was followed by the consolidation of the most of the British car industry into British Leyland and then the onset of safety and emissions regulations. By 1980, the classic British sports car had become all but extinct. Then a strange thing happened. Mazda, always had a reputation as being slightly offbeat (witness its dedication to the Wankel rotary, which exists to this day) introduced a new model dubbed the MX-5 Miata . This compact, rear-drive two-seat roadster bore a strong resemblance to a '60s vintage Lotus Elan. However, unlike the Elan and its compatriots, the Miata started every time you turned the key, didn't leave you drenched when it rained, and didn't leave puddles of oil on your garage floor. In other words, it was a classic British sports car that worked like a modern Japanese car. Read on after the jump to find out how the latest incarnation fares. %Gallery-25993% Photos Copyright ©2008 Brad Wood / Damon Lavrinc / Weblogs, Inc. The current third-generation Miata still carries the same basic proportions of an Elan or MGB, but with styling updates to reflect a little of the current Mazda design language. This is most obvious in the wheel well shape. Overall, the Mazda still has a clean, basic profile with no major flourishes -- just smooth bodywork with the long hood/cab rearward sports car look. Like the second gen-model, this one has fixed headlights while the oval shaped air intake has been restored from the original car. The entry model still has the same top mechanism that appeared on the 1989 original and there's absolutely no reason to ever change it. One lesson that General Motors must learn when they rework the Solstice and Sky is that simple tops work best on roadsters. In fact, designers should not try to improve on the Miata top -- just copy it. Back in 1990 when I was graduating from college and looking to buy a new car, it came down to the Miata or a Mustang LX 5.0. The 'Stang's torque and back seat ultimately won my dollars, but I've always loved the Miata. When I test drove one, the first thing I did was lower the top. It's easy: reach above the mirror, release the latch, and drop it over your shoulder. Five seconds and it was …
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|MPG||21 City / 28 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd man w/OD|
|Power||166 @ 6700 rpm|
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