So there I am, sitting in the back of the shuttle van as the driver pulls into the Enterprise lot. This visit marks the second time in a month that I have graced the rental car counter with my presence, as my 2007 Infiniti G35 has been hit by a careless driver yet again. I step out of the van and quickly survey the lot on my way inside, much to my surprise, I see a Miata staring happily back at me.
Now, I’m already well aware that my insurance policy’s rental car coverage will cover up to and including a truck, so I was pretty sure the Machine Gray Metallic MX-5 Miata RF Grand Touring was within my grasp. As the agent collects my information and reviews my coverage, she kindly informs me that I can choose between a Jeep Wrangler or Grand Cherokee.
“What about the Miata?” I ask, failing to stifle my enthusiasm. “The Miata? Sure,” she replies. Party.
We walk outside and perform the ritual rental-car walk-around during which I discover that this particular Miata is a 2020, and has just over 500 miles on the odometer. I hop in, push the starter button, lower the top despite the 58 degree weather, and proceed to blast the ever-appropriate anthem “Icy” by Kim Petras. I’ve reached my final form.
This being a rental car, it came equipped with the 6-speed automatic transmission, which I must admit is very well programmed. Despite that, and having never driven an ND generation Miata, I knew the car would be fun to drive. What I did not know was just how much I would love driving it in any situation.
You see, the beauty of a small car is that you don’t need big numbers to have big fun. For 2019, Mazda bestowed the MX-5 with 181 horsepower and higher redline of 7500, up from 155 horsepower and 6800 RPM. With the automatic, that’s good for a 0-60 sprint in a respectable 6.5 seconds, but between you and me, that’s not what this cars bag is.
No, the real fun of the Miata is how immediately it responds to your inputs. Weighing in at just under 2,500 pounds with the automatic, there really isn’t that much weight to throw around. It’s short too, so squeezing into that open spot in traffic is done as soon as you think about it. Suddenly anything larger than this car feels unnecessary, excessive, gluttonous.
But this is the RF, or “Retractable Fastback” in Mazda-speak, so what’s that like? At first glance, you realize that your view over your shoulder is entirely blocked by the part of the roof that doesn’t retract. Fortunately its 2020 and Mazda has fitted the MX-5 with blind spot monitoring, so it’s mostly a non-issue. Press the button and the targa-style roof retracts fairly quickly into the trunk, giving you that open-air driving experience without feeling as exposed as a traditional soft top. Think of it like a big sunroof.
I became increasingly convinced over the course of the week I spent with the rorty little two-seater that it met the vast majority of my motoring needs, all while managing to make even the most mundane commute an absolute joy. It’s hard to imagine having anywhere near as much fun on-road with either the Wrangler or Grand Cherokee I was presented with before driving away in this thing. So next time you hit that rental counter and you can’t decide what to pick, remember...
Miata Is Always The Answer.
Chris Landry is a lifelong automotive enthusiast and an aspiring architect. When he’s not annoying his dog Eleni, he’s reviewing cars with his pal Jake over at @GearsandQueers