1999 Mazda Miata 10th Anniversary new car reviews

To celebrate 10 years of supplying the world with Miatas, Mazda has released a limited-edition model with everything on it: the Miata 10th Anniversary Edition. Just like a large pizza with unlimited toppings, this car could have something for everyone--or it could just be a confusing collage of tastes. In making the 10th Anniversary Edition, Mazda took the basic Miata and added options for both sport, luxury and limited-edition appeal.

The sporty side of the 10th Anniversary Edition comes from use of the Miata Sport's suspension package, which consists of performance-tuned suspension, firmer Bilstein shocks and a front strut tower brace. A very desirable Torsen limited-slip differential and a set of 195/50-15 Michelin Pilot tires help the car keep a firm grip on the road. Around town the car is a blast; on long trips, we found that the ride does get a bit tiring.

Further sportiness comes from the new six-speed gearbox, a feature unique to the 10th Anniversary Edition. The gear ratios are spaced closer together than on normal five-speed Miatas, yet sixth gear is a tad more relaxed for highway cruising. We found that the new ratios made the car a bit quicker out of the hole (about a tick quicker to 60). You also need to rethink your downshifting, as fourth gear on the new box is equal to third-and-a-half on a regular Miata.

The 10th Anniversary Edition also has a luxurious side, thanks to a two-tone black-and-blue leather interior, Bose music system, stainless steel door scuff plates, Windblocker anti-draft panel, cruise control, power windows, power steering, power door locks and three-spoke leather Nardi steering wheel and matching gearshift knob.

Distinguishing the 10th Anniversary Edition from the more mundane Miatas is a special color scheme. The car comes painted in exclusive Sapphire Blue Mica paint and features a blue convertible top. Polished alloy wheels, special badges, front air dam, aerodynamic side sills, rear mud guards and flush-mounted fog lights further differentiate it.

The 10th Anniversary Edition also comes with a special gift pack consisting of a 1:43-scale Miata model, special key ring, his-and-her watches and certificate of authenticity.

While we thoroughly enjoyed driving this special-edition Miata, we wonder if it's for everyone. We see the hard-core autocrossers and road racers going for the less expensive and simpler Sport model, while those interested in using their Miatas for covering distances may be turned off by the stiff suspension and thus opt for the Leather Package or Touring Package. Enthusiasts just interested in getting the Miata experience will probably take whatever their local dealers have on the lot.

Still, we don't think Mazda will have any trouble selling the 3000 copies (out of a total run of 7500) earmarked for U.S. customers, even if they do check in with a list price of $27,775 each. Heck, we'd gladly take one.

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