The Mazda MX-5 Miata forces you to experience the road, not just drive on it.Text and photography by Dan CutronaPictured above: Photographer Dan Cutrona takes his son, Rocco, for a spin in the Mazda MX-5 Miata to Craigville Beach. “The Mazda Miata is the absolute most fun you can have on four wheels and it rolls around the corners just enough to feel like you’re dancing,” says Dan.
I’ve never understood the allure of the Miata. It was introduced when I was a kid in 1989, and I remember thinking it was kinda’ cool, I guess, but it wasn’t exactly replacing the “Miami Vice” Ferrari poster on my bedroom wall any time soon. I also distinctly remember encountering a Miata club in Vermont, (yes, there are many Miata clubs) and laughing at all of these grown men getting into their tiny cars.
Now they are the ones laughing, because they’ve known all along what I just now figured out—the Mazda Miata is the absolute most fun you can have on four wheels without breaking the law.
In a time when family sedans commonly have 300 horsepower, and “real” sports cars have more than 500, the Miata is content backing out of the horsepower wars, and making due with 155. However, these are 155 raging little ponies, that when coupled with an incredibly affirmative six-speed stick shift, prove to be truly exciting. It’s happy to rev, and encourages you to make some noise. Pulling away from a stop sign is quick, shifting into second is even better, and by the time you’re arcing around a turn shifting into third and feeling like Mario Andretti—you’re going all of 55 mph. The Mazda MX-5 Miata is by no means slow, (0-60 in 6.2 seconds), but it is the absolute opposite experience of our bank vault SUVs with numb steering and cushy suspension that catch you off guard when you look at the speedometer, and lo and behold, you’re barreling down the highway doing 85 mph.
The comfort of our SUVs is like soft-serve, and this car is gelato on the Amalfi coast. Even when compared to more formidable sports cars, this car may not be as capable statistically, but it is infinitely more usable in reality. Bringing it to 6,000 rpm on the curve leading up to Nobska Light is exhilarating, whereas doing that in a 500 horsepower Corvette will have you doing your best Martha’s Vineyard Ferry impression. Just like a Cigarette speedboat isn’t the best tool for exploring Cotuit Harbor, Cape Cod roads simply don’t let you really explore the limits of most modern sports cars.
There are not many things better than finding your favorite nook of the bay, pulling up to an empty patch of sand and calling it yours for a couple hours. Or trolling up Bumps River until you practically run out of water, seeing how far you can go. These little experiences make up the essence of being on Cape Cod. And they are usually accomplished in 16-foot Boston Whalers, or even kayaks. In these cases, just like with the Miata, less is more.