- The Washington Times - Friday, November 17, 2000

What do the words "Zoom Zoom" mean to you? For me, in the 2001 Mazda Miata, these words mean carefree, uninhibited enjoyment when driving under an open sky.
Zoom zoom is featured in Mazda's advertising campaign and the words seem applicable to the Miata, a small two-seat convertible that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Well, that might not be exactly true; $26,000 could buy many other cars but not in the ragtop category. The price of convertibles is usually in the upper stratosphere.
Since the Miata's inception back in the late 1980s, this little mite always has been among my favorite cars for two reasons: everything about it is simple and basic, and tossing the top down is easy.
In the simple-and-basic category, the Miata allows me to feel that the car and I are one and the same. Steering is easy, quick and precise which provides a unified feeling when sitting behind the wheel. This unification has nothing to do with the fact that the space allotment for the driver is very limited.
As for the ragtop, simply release a couple of latches and toss the top backward. It is that simple, and because it is so uninvolved, I did it almost every time I got into the car, providing me the maximum pleasure of the sun or moon.
What makes the 2001 model zoomier this year is the additional 15 horsepower and 16-inch alloy wheels. Another zoom comes from the five-speed manual transmission on the occasions that I was able to shift gears within the very tight gate without becoming hung up. Incidentally, this year a six-speed transmission is available on the LS model, and an automatic is an option for both models.
The extra horsepower increases the 1.8-liter four-cylinder to 155 horsepower. That's not a high number, nor is the acceleration or the top speed worth boasting about. But Miata owners can brag about the car's respectable fuel economy: 23 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
Despite the ordinary acceleration, from inside the Miata the sound of the brumm-brumm coming from the specially tuned exhaust makes zooming around corners more stimulating. This car is built low to the ground, and with its low center of gravity, plus a sturdy suspension system, the car has a solid feel when making sharp turns.
This car also has an improved larger braking system with a bigger master cylinder and better friction pads. Again, the LS model offers options in this area, too: anti-locks brakes are available for $550. For the big spender, options include a cassette player, detachable hardtop, mud guards and a rear spoiler. There are also a couple of choices of suspensions available.
My test car was equipped with leather-trimmed upholstery, air conditioning, a Bose audio system, power windows, power door locks and cruise control. Other amenities include power antenna, glass rear-window defogger, bucket seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a trunk capable of storing a little more than carryon luggage and dual cup holders.
In my mind, however, jazzing this car up with goodies gets away from its original intent.
I remember the Miata when I had to wind down the windows, and there was no remote keyless entry. It was simply a fun car and it still is. Besides, this car's noisy interior wouldn't do justice to a CD. Not only is the interior noise level high, the ride is a bit harsh. But the Miata isn't intended to be a comfy-cozy car; it's intended for the person who enjoys driving on an open road and understands the meaning of the words zoom zoom.

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