Veteran And Rookie Roadsters Face Off In Droptop Doubleheader
Like an aging ballplayer, the Mazda is starting to look a little gray around the temples – a bit vulnerable.
We’ve been eying this fight for a long time. Since the reborn Mini first burst on the scene in 2002, really. Oh, the Mini Cooper Convertible has been around since 2005, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to compare them. What with all that physical and visual weight from the Mini’s nearly useless rear seats, it just didn’t seem like a fair fight. The classically proportioned rear-drive Mazda MX-5 Miata against a front-drive droptop with a pair of roll hoops awkwardly stationed behind the second row of seats, Tour de France-sized blind spots and a windshield header so far away from the driver as to be oddly distant – not to mention streetlight blocking? No, the Mini Convertible wasn’t the answer we were looking for.
And neither, as it turns out, have been all the other suitors the industry has concocted over the Miata’s considerable lifespan. Everything from General Motors’ Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky twins to the Aussie-built Mercury Capri, Toyota MR2 Spyder and Honda Del Sol has tried to crack Miata’s iron grip on the affordable and fun basic roadster crown, and all have collapsed rather miserably. The Miata has been around for nearly a quarter century, and it’s cornered the affordable convertible market for both new enthusiasts and golden oldies looking for a British sports car that doesn’t leak and bears no trace of Lucas electrics. To borrow shamelessly from Terence Mann of Field Of Dreams (say it in your best James Earl Jones bellow):
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been the Miata. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. The sports car market has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But the Miata has marked the time.”
But now, like an aging ballplayer, the Mazda is starting to look a little gray around the temples – a bit vulnerable. Despite a steady stream of small tweaks and tugs and a parade of special editions, this third-generation NC Miata has been on the market since 2005. Since that time, Mini has effectively released its second generation of ragtop Coopers with this new-for-2012 Mini Roadster, and it poses a more serious threat to the Miata than even we realized.
2012 Mini Cooper S Roadster vs. 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata Special Edition originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Aug 2012 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.