Convertibles

12 months of Miata: 10,000 miles and counting

With just a couple months left with our long-term Mazda MX-5, we take a closer look at the wear and tear it's picked up along the way.

[Insert some lame joke about "smiles per gallon" here.]

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

By now, you know how the new Mazda MX-5 drives. If you haven't, here's a quick summary -- it's great. But not too many have explored how well the car holds up after thousands of miles of driving. That's why we're here.

Roadshow's long-term Mazda MX-5 has been an absolute peach on the road. It's some of the most fun you can have for around $30,000. During our Super Shootout filming at Gingerman Raceway, we were able to get the Mazda onto the track for a bit of action, and a number of us remarked on how refreshing it was to drive something with more approachable limits than, say, a Porsche 911 GT3 RS or a Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport.

That track time helped highlight something surprising, though. Even though our car is fitted with the optional $3,400 Brembo/BBS package, our brakes are already trailing off. Over the 10,000 miles we've put on the car, we've done one bout of light autocrossing and fewer than 10 laps of Gingerman.

The MX-5's brakes are already less punchy than before. They're still fine for panic stops on the highway, and I have the utmost confidence in them during daily driving, but it's obvious we'd want to swap to a more aggressive aftermarket pad if tracking were a regular thing. (It's worth noting that only the front brakes are uprated Brembos.)

Speaking of the highway, drivers putting in plenty of time on the interstate might want to look into a clear-bra-style protector for the front end. The front fascia has its fair share of rock chips, the first of which was earned maybe one month into the Miata's life. Some of it just has to do with bad luck, sure, but it's worth keeping in mind.

The BBS wheels remain perfect and unscarred, thanks to my paranoiac desire to park six inches from all curbs. As I always have that nagging thought of waking up to a car on bricks every time it's parked outside overnight, I think we may go to the dealer or aftermarket and pick up a set of locking lug nuts.

Another exterior component exhibiting surprising wear is the fabric soft top. It's started to fray around the hinge points in the roof. There aren't holes or anything yet, and nobody can see it from a distance, but it's a bit unsightly up close. The top is never put down when wet and allowed to dry, which is a no-no according to the owner's manual. Even with following all the instructions, after a summer's worth of top folding, the wear is a bit disappointing.

The engine and drivetrain are nearly exactly the same as they were to begin with. 10,000 miles only covers one oil change, and performance still feels spot-on. That said, our transmission still exhibits some notchiness in the 1-2 shift, and we're currently in the process of investigating a faint hum that comes from the rear end during slow right turns.

The interior has taken all manner of abuse and neglect and returned nothing but shiny, unmolested materials (mostly plastic).

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

As for the interior, it's a trooper. It's survived an accidental evening of top-down status, where dew collected on the center console (easily wiped off) and a spider set up shop around the firewall (I think I've killed him...I think...). The seats are still in great condition, despite deep seams requiring frequent cleaning to look nice. With a little bit of cleaning, the interior looks just as fresh as it did on day one.

One piece of the interior has started coming off, though. One of the little plastic handles used to open and close the top is popping out on occasion, but it's easy enough to snap back into place. I've been a bit less ham-fisted with it since that happened, and it's helped.

The infotainment system remains nice and snappy. It hasn't ever exhibited any odd quirks like forgetting a Bluetooth-paired phone, and both the touchscreen and physical knob still work perfectly. I don't know why it would start acting up. I'm just being thorough, here.

For what few issues we've encountered -- the pop-out handle, the fading brakes, the fraying top -- we've had an utter blast in this car. The MX-5 still has a few more months of life with us, including another round of winter-tire driving. Stay tuned!