Cooley On Cars
2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring PRHT (CNET On Cars, Episode 49)25 years of Miata: Why it still works. How your commute is worse than just boring, read the secret information in your car, and the Top 5 ways a German driver's license is different than an American one.
[CLAPS] Here we go with our top read post graphics. Miata S25, our look at a perennial. OBD two dongles, what your car could be telling you, and top five differences between getting a license in Germany and the US. Time to check the deck. [NOISE] We see cars differently. We love them on the road and under the hood, but also check the tech, and are known for telling it like it is. Ugly is included at no extra cost. [MUSIC] The good, the bad, the bottom line, this is CNET on cars. Welcome to CNET On Cars, the show all about high tech cars and modern driving. I'm Brian Cooley. You know, the Mazda Miata is amazing as much for what it is, as what it isn't. It's a driver's favorite. But, what it isn't, is different from when it launched. Most cars up to 25 years on the market really change and morph into something different than what they began as. But, Mazda and its Miata have shown amazing restraint. After 25 years, the car's still essentially the same, only better. Let's go for a ride and check the tack. This is the benchmark for sports cars. Real sports cars, in the traditional, definitive sense. Small, light, typically open, 2-seated, and not overly powered. And the Mazda Miata also outsells all the predecessors it's a tribute to, by far. Basically, they've been getting it right for a long time. [MUSIC] [NOISE] Now the most amazing thing about the Miata after 25 years? It's still a Miata. Most cars after two and a half decades on the market, suffer pretty massive category creep. But this is what is was when it hit in 1989, the pure essence of a sports car, not too much of anything. The engine has grown from 1.8 liters to 2, beyond that it hasn't changed much. And you do now have the option of a power retractable hard top, that is new to their DNA. But again, you an go with canvas over your head if you like. This is s thing of beauty though, it tucks away nicely behind the rear seat. Doesn't add a lot of weight. And it doesn't give you a variable trunk intrusion like a lot of retractable. I like that. The downside is, the trunk's really small. Now to be sure inside a Miata is a tight. It actually makes a Boxter seem fairly spacious. But that's kind of the idea here, let's give it a little slack on that one. Super clean classic gauge pack. I like that. It's not adorned with anything including an LCD helper display. Which brings us to the other LCD that isn't here. That one. There is no LCD head unit on a Miata. Not available. Optional, standard, otherwise, unless you want the sort of clip on Garmin they offer. But, don't. Simple LCD readout for a simple entertainment system. AM/FM with no HD, satellite radio is optional, CD can be 6 disc. Aux jack down here. There is an iPod adapter, but it's kind of added by the dealer later, and that's about it for advanced media. No apps, no connected anything, except the connection you have to the road. [NOISE] [MUSIC] As much as I like this business like little cockpit there are few ergonomic and stylistic gripes that make me nuts. First of all the style and quality of that center stack. Everything in here has a great classic look and then this is kinda this weird mushroom shape. And worse than that, it's made out of plastic that should be used to make the packages things come in, not the things themselves. This is one really bad, cheap false note in an otherwise nice cabin. Some other weird ergonomic things. When you get into the gear shift here and you're in either two, four, or six, the bones on my wrist hit the power window switches almost every time. I'm constantly wondering, what is that noise? Oh, the window's down a crack again. And if you want to open the little door to put gas in it. It'd be nice if it was somewhere where I'm looking forward. But no, I've gotta do a 180, open up the smuggler's box, and pull that thing. It's almost like they don't like me. Our basic theme is very strongly heard under the hood. Two liter inline four. This is the big engine. Used to be smaller than this when they first came out, either a one six or a one eight depending on your market. 167 horsepower, a pretty modest number by today's standards. 140 pound feet of torque. Very modest number by today's standards. But the car only weighs 26 hundred pounds so 60 happens in a respectable 6.9 seconds. You've got a 21/28 mpg rating. Therein lies the rub. A car this light with this small of an engine should give better mileage. But they're not pushing it on the technology front. For example, no turbo, no direct injection. [NOISE]. Now the first thing you'll notice, driving a Miata, is that it is not overly powered. You saw those numbers, 140 ft-lbs of torque is not much today. But it's about revving this car. You get it above 3,000, you keep it above 3,000, that's where the action lives. In fact, it's geared toward that. When you're on the highway at 60, in top gear, in sixth, you're still pushing close to 3,000 rpm. The gear box is short throw and crisp. A lot of companies will say that about their transmissions, and you get in, and they're not. This one doesn't lie. Traditional, hydraulic power steering. You may have noticed the engine is just mostly behind the front axle line. That gives us what you could call a front mid-engine layout. Bottom line is, it gets around a corner fine without feeling long. Now, if you don't teach this car to rev, it is a bit gutless. We've got the sport suspension on this car, is it a bit of a hard ride? Combine that with the hard bottom seats, and it's a bit of a pain to be driving it every day in crappy pavement. So just bear that in mind, depending on your purposes for this vehicle. [MUSIC] Here's why you buy a Miata, because you can use all of it. That goes for very few cars today. If you get down a country lane in a good cliff in one of these. It's because you've learned how to really use the car, and how to drive. Now there are some wonderful enthusiasts who drive things like BMW Ms and WXRSVIs but it is also true that any moron make one of those go fast. With their massive amounts of power, computer controlled all wheel drive and intelligent performance stability control. This car has none of that. When something good happens in one of these, it's because you and the car made it happen together. That's what a sports car's all about. Okay let's price our happy, bug eyed little friend. A 2014 Grand Touring Retractable Hard Top Miata is gonna be about $30.000 to deliver. With a manual. If you wanna add the automatic, that's 1100. Of course, I won't speak to you after that point. So don't do it. Then it's 1390 for the premium package, which actually brings you a lot of things we take for granted these days, including an alarm system. That's right. Bluetooth hands-free, that's right. Keyless access, satellite radio and xenon headlights. Price. $650 more for the sport package, that'll get you Bilstein shocks, firmer spring ratios all around, and the limited slip differential, that one's actually a steal. All in about $32,300 the best and perhaps the only $32,300 you can spend on a purer sports car in 2014. [MUSIC] Find our full review on that '14 Miata, 25 years strong, at cars.cnet.com. You know your commute's no fun. That I don't have to tell you. But did you know that it is literally, scientifically, not good for you? That you probably didn't know. Tell the boss, and it's also of interest to the smarter driver. Living in your car for the better part of an hour each day commuting, is one of the lesser studied sedentary health risks out there, certainly compared to the much more counted ones like, being a couch potato in front of the television or having office jobs where you just sit in front of a computer all day. Yet from 1960 to 2000 we nearly trebled the number of people commuting by car. And grew the percentage by nearly 75%. And the time duration of that commute has lengthened nearly 30%. A Washington University St. Louis study with the National Institutes of Health did take a look. Over 4,300 people were surveyed and the pattern was simple, more minutes at baseline metabolism and lower cardio fitness. A higher body mass index, waist size, and blood pressure. More time in the car on your **** means doing something above base line metabolism, but even worse, it's also stressful time doing too little. The study also noted that commuting typically correlates with living in the suburbs. A place where almost everything is environmentally engineered for lower exertion and activity, unless of course you think about going to the gym, which you probably drive to, and then drive to cinnabon after. No wonder New York City folks weigh on average six or seven pounds less than the rest of us. Add the fact that there's an entire fast food industry aimed at people in cars, and you can see the correlation, if not causation, with the idea that commuting is not merely health neutral. So a few tips for the smarter and ostensibly healthier driver. First of all, skip the drive-thru, even though it's built for cars. Second of all, try to get some walking in during your commute, even if it's just part of a multi-modal commute, and realize that your commute directly subtracts time from your activity time. So count up the minutes that you commute each day and try and find that exact number three times a week to be active. Coming up, really cool uses for that little hidden port under your dash. And how long should your engine last, when cnet on cars rolls on. This is the Aston Martin Repeat S. Not only does it have looks to kill but the power to scare the living hell out of anything it comes against and it seats four people which leaves us to ask, does having four doors and four proper seats make it any less. It's a sports car. Buy more from the XCAR team of CNET UK at cnet.com/xcar. Welcome back to CNET on Cars. Coming to you from our home at the Marin Clubhouse of Cars Dawydia, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. We're back in episode eleven, we did a piece on using diagnostic code readers to figure out what's wrong with your car. And they plug into something called the OBD two port under your dash. And that's great when your car is not running right. But most of the time, it is. But that OBD-II port can still be valuable, as it can give you almost a secret look into your car's moment by moment behavior, and that makes for a great car tech 101. The OBD-II or On Board Diagnostics. This generation two port is located under your dash on any car sold in the U.S. since 1996 or Europe since 2001. Look for it within a couple feet of the steering column usually right about where the dash tram panel stops and the ugly parts begin. Now the that OBD port is collecting data from different sensors all over your car, in the engine bay, in the suspension, parts of the ABS system to detect movement and G forces. Generally speaking, the newer your car the more data feeds are coming in there. Things like throttle position, fuel flow, steering wheel angle, and tons more data all right there. Now you get the data out of the OBD-II port into your phone or tablet most likely through an app that talks to one of these wireless dongles. These cost anywhere from 10 bucks to $100 or more. But that's basically your range. They take the data, harvest it, and send it out by a Bluetooth. Now the difference in price can be quite dramatic. Because some of them are a little more limited than others. I would spend a few more bucks and make sure the app you're using is compatible with the Dongle you're about to buy. Most apps support notes will tell you which ones work the best with it. Pair it once, and now the fun part. For the car geek there are apps like torque that give you amazing amounts of data from the car in multiple configurable dashboards. Many of these apps also merge in GPS and time stamping from your phone. You can even add a video recording app to record a view of your driving with some virtual data read outs of your choice overlaid on the video. And GPS trajectory and speed, replayable later over a track or road map. For the everyday driver who wants to save fuel, Automatic gets a lot of buzz. It's both a proprietary dongle, and an app. Its focus is not the fire hose of data we just saw. But rather, conclusions based on it that coach you to drive more efficiently. It can also do automatic crash notification, if your car doesn't have that function. And beep to warn you if you're braking too hard, accelerating too hard or. Seeking the speed limit. For the driver who wants to save on their insurance, there's a breed of paid or pay as you drive OBD dongles. These monitor your actual driving usage and can then often qualify you for a discount on your premium. These also tend to roll in things like vehicle location monitoring and the ubiquitous crash notification service, see if your insurance company offers one of these. Some of these combos of dongles and apps also allow you to view and clear diagnostic trouble code. Looks like those check engine lights. Look for that function if it's important to you. By the way, for the tuner, you have to step up to something a little different. We've been talking about readers that mostly go one way, reporting vehicle data. But tuning your car to hot it up requires something different, like the Cobb Access Port, which does connect to OBD2, but with a custom controller and cable. And only for a limited number of performance cars. If you're at all interested, get out there and know your car better. The data is free, and the faucet is right under your dash. Coming up, top five differences between US and German drivers when CNet on cars returns. [MUSIC] This year sees the twenty-fifth anniversary of the [INAUDIBLE] favorite sports car: Mazda's simply brilliant MX5. What I love about this car is just about everything that can be [INAUDIBLE]. With a roll of duct tape and a 12 mil spanner. I bought this for a banger rally about 6 or 7 years ago with the intention of killing it. And like a cockroach, it just refuses to die. [MUSIC] Find more from the XCAR team of. C Net UK at cnet.com/xcar [MUSIC] Welcome back to C Net on cars. Time for some email. This week it comes in from John C who is asking about engine longevity and durability. Aren't we all concerned about that? He says, how long are modern engines designed to last? What about engines with fewer cylinders? How long do they last? Diesels? Turbos? Hybrids? These are all very different designs that are propagating on the market. He wants to know which one's gonna be around the longest number of miles. There is, of course, no simple answer for this. It varies by what engine you buy, how well the carmaker designed it that model year, how well you maintain it, and what style of driving you do most often. But here's some general beliefs. Some people think that the higher-revving, smaller engines we're seeing now are gonna last less long because they are putting more. Demand on a smaller amount of displacement. Turbos and superchargers are happening all over the place in the market now and those are generally higher stressed engines. But of course they're designed for that so it's not necessarily an engine that's gonna blow soon. Carmaker screwups are legendary. I mean just 'cause automakers are really good at building cars don't mean they don't blow it. If you look at Porsche's from '01 to '05 a lot of those have a. The thing called an intermediate shaft bearing that is well known for failing and often taking your engine with it. Look at 1998 to 2003 Jaguar XJ, they have plastic cam chain tensioner that can let go, and when that little $13 part goes so does your engine. So there are these kinds of Achilles heels in the auto biz that can really be serious. And one of the biggest things in addition to whether too much stop and go, is whether you take care of your fluids and filters. This is nothing new, but engine oil and transmission fluid and the filters go with them, stay on top of those. Some folks are still doing every 3,000 miles. That might be a bit much in an era when 10 to even 18,000 miles is your interval. But take the manufacturer's interval and halve it. In other words, twice as often I think is a pretty good rule of thumb. To get a lot more years out of your car. Most mechanics will tell you, air your car out once in a while, if you drive it stop light to stop light, it's not going to live as long as someone whose driving long distances. And finally if you're going to buy a car and you're really concerned about this, make sure it's got a longer powertrain warranty than another one you. Considering. If it's used, get it CPO, certified pre-owned so you've got powertrain warranty there, and consider buying a car that everyone buys. The high volume models, your Camrys, Infusions, and Accords. There's a lot more of them on the market to let the factory know where the problems are than a low volume car. On all my trips to Germany, often to cover the auto shows, I've noticed that driving. Getting there is just different. Nothing to do with the Audubon that's a tiny part of the driving experience there. People take driving differently than in America. So we snooped around a bit and came up with some reasons. Five of them in fact. Here's our top five why getting a licence in Germany is so different than in America. [MUSIC] First of all, we're talking here about getting your first license, that process that forms you as a driver, not moving to Germany and being allowed to keep driving with that cereal box top you use in the US. Germany does let you do that as an expat, but they probably regret it. The whole thing is called a fuhrerschein, a driver's license. And here's how it goes. 5. There is a first aid course. We're not talking about the U.S. where being prepared means knowing how to punch the numbers, 911. You need to pass a real first aid course in Germany. Eight hours of it. That's like getting an M.D. in Somalia. Part of the course also teaches you how to secure the accident scene. In America, we just call OnStar and start crying. 4. You learn theory. U.S. driver training isn't training so much as muscle memory. German training gets into the essence of driving. There are at least 14 and possibly 20 or more hours of this theory training to get ready for a theoretical exam. And that consists of 30 multiple choice questions. But unlike here in the U.S., there can be multiple correct answers for each one. You need to nail them. Number 3, you really learn driving, you'll need a minimum of 12, ninety minute on the road training sessions, four of which have to be on the Audubon and at speed. And about three of those have to be at night. By the way if you take your training in an automatic transmission you'll only be licensed to drive that. Driving a manual with that same license is considered driving without a license. If your instructor detects that you suck, you could be in for up to 20, or even 30, of those training sessions. In the U.S. that would qualify you to fly for Southwest. Number two, it takes time and money. Three to six months is what you need to allot to get your first driver's license in Germany. And that's not time just waiting to turn a certain age, it's real work. Unlike the U.S., you don't learn to drive by having your parents take you out to a parking lot for a couple of hours. You go to a Fahrshule, and it can easily cost you something in the region of 2,000 Euros. This is real school. The number one reason a German license means a little more than one in the U.S.. Is that a test is a test. Three wrong answers on the German test and you fail. That's nearly twice as stringent as here in California. Fail 3 times and you have to go back to that school. Viewer OzK wrote in and told me when my parents lived in Germany they said if you failed the driver written exam 3 times they sent you for a psych evaluation to see what's wrong with you. And questions like what is the maximum you're allowed to drive a truck with a permissible total mass of three tons on a road with one marked lane for each direction outside built up areas, will make you seriously consider getting a buss pass instead. You also have to open the hood during your drivers test and identify for the instructor the major visible components. Where you would check the oil, how would you top off the coolant? In America, you can weld most people's hoods shut then wait a year or two and see if they've noticed. Hope you enjoyed this episode. Thanks for watching. By the way, I've been getting some of the photos you've shared with us about cars you've bought recently, especially ones you've learned about here on. On the show, keep those coming. You can either email those to me, or share them with us on social media. We'll start puttin' some of those in the show, very soon. We'll see ya next time we check the tech. [MUSIC] The most amazing thing about the Miata is it just keeps beeping. Let me see what that's all about.