I've had an NB Miata for a bit more than a month now, and I've got to say, the car is pretty great as far as cars go. It handles well, it's fun, it did more than well in a crash, and costs nothing to insure. Look, as far as roadsters go, the Miata is perfectly fine. It drives well and is cheap to maintain, probably the best bang for the buck out there. It's so great, that I have two of them (the other one is my NA, which you can read about here), but for some reason, I can't seem to attach myself to the NB. It's just nothing special to me, I don't want to spend money on it, and worst of all- I don't even look back at it when walking away from it. Don't get me wrong, it's far better than the NA as far as the engineering behind it goes- it's more powerful, gets better fuel economy, still relatively inexpensive to maintain and I would even go as far as to say it's a more precise car. So then, why is it that I can't get myself to like it?
Let's start from the beginning. I picked up the car shortly after I blew the engine in my red Miata. I needed a daily driver, and I already had experience with one, and it just so happened my coworker was selling his' for a steal- and so I pulled the trigger. The first couple of weeks I loved it, especially considering that all it needed was a thermostat. I thought it was the best buy I've made, even better than the 1500 bucks I spent on my first Miata. After a short while, though, the emotions started to taper. I even considered selling it, after all it was still a cramped little convertible, and I wasn't learning much of anything new about cars by driving a slightly updated version of my previous one. Sure, it had more power, turned in better, and got better mileage. It didn't take long until I crashed into another car, and you know how that goes- you don't rear end anyone if you're paying attention to the road. Details aside, I got somewhat re-attached to it, and I was planning to do the whole wide body street driven show car, and have the red Miata be my track car. After some more time passed, however, I lost all interest in it again. I couldn't stop taking pictures of the red car when I got that, so then why was I so bored by the newer, better car? I even tried taking it out to an auto-cross event, and while I had fun with it, I wasn't particularly impressed by it. The entire time I'd been wishing I had taken the NA. So what is it, then?
Well, if you have ever taken both cars apart down to the bone, you would notice that the chassis aren't that much different. Matter of fact, some parts are actually interchangeable, especially the soft top. The suspension components, brakes and front and rear subframe are also interchangeable, so is the drivetrain. The differential and transmission are direct swaps, and a 1.8 swap requires couple of extra components here and there, but is otherwise pretty straight forward. The only real difference is the front subframe, more specifically the positioning of the steering rack on the NB is better, resulting in better handling geometry and a far more responsive car in general. What about the interior? Well, seats are better, the dash is nicely organized, the gauge cluster is very familiar, the steering wheel is by Nardi, and the materials are of great quality for even today's standards. To put that in perspective, an NB miata feels nicer to sit in than a 986 Boxster- yes, you read that right. So then, it's a much better car, a faster car, and built to a higher standard- then what is it that I'm missing?
Let's look at the negatives- the car is heavier by a hundred something pounds, but the extra power should offset that, and unless your name has "Ayrton" or "Senna" in it, no mortal would feel the difference. It's missing the pop-ups, but I'm actually a fan of flush mounted headlights. And that's about it, really. If anything, the NB just as easy to wrench on and runs smoother. What in the world is it missing then? To find out, I decided to delete the NA from my history temporarily, and think of the NB as my first Miata, and you know what I discovered? The problem with the NB, is the NA! To put it simply, it's just not as raw as my NA. The added comfort features make it less of a driver's car, that 90's feel is gone, and the car just turns out to be a watered down version of the NA. Look, if I had the NB before the NA, this review would've been about how great it is, and I would've stopped there. It is the better overall car, but what is the real issue is that it is not like the old model, much like the difference between a 964 and a 911. If the car before it never existed, the NB would have been all praise, but my instincts simply move my hand over to where the keys to my NA are sitting, and for some unknown reason, I find myself enjoying the NA much more than I do the NB.