Far be it from us to tell you how to waste your money, but why would any rational being pass by the Mazda MX-5 Miata on their quest for the best convertible money can buy?
Yes, there are more expensive topless whips. Some of them have three times the horsepower of Mazda's spunky two-seat affair, but they don't have even 1x the fun that ratchets up each time the Miata's soft or hard tops fold away.
Through four generations of roadsters, Mazda has managed a nifty trick: It's kept the essence of the car intact, something even the Camaro and Mustang, even the lowly PT Cruiser, couldn't pull off. The Miata's not just a sports car, not just a convertible (or a coupe, in RF form)—it's a sensibility. Jinba ittai. There, I said it. Nothing sounds like its weebly little 4-cylinder winding up, nothing snicks like its shifty little manual swapping gears like husbands at a '70s key party. Nothing wraps a coil of joy around its driver so jauntily, so just-so. The Miata weaponizes cute and uses it against you to make a quintessential indulgence seem like oxygen.
I am guilty of being that driver, the one who latched on to a first-generation NA Miata and won't let go, and considers every generation after to be a slightly blurry copy. But consider how crisp that copy remains: Today's Miata weighs just a few hundred pounds more than the original but sniffs the racing line like it's made of illegal substances. It suits taller drivers better than it ever has, it turns in sterling gas mileage, while it simultaneously tosses back its roof with the same one-handed aplomb it's had since it was a baby, back in 1989. If that's too demanding, Mazda added a power hardtop model in 2017 known as RF.
Today's Miata now spins out 181 hp and soars to Honda-like rev limits—and it also costs a stiff $26,000 in base trim. There's an automatic trans on the options list, and a fiddly, crappy knob-controlled infotainment system that should come with a crowbar, it's so bad. A track-ready Club model offsets the fancy Touring trims on the credibility line of the spec sheet, but its buckboard ride betrays the car's inherent balance. The downsides are manageable. Even the base Miata comes with a ridiculous amount of charm.
It also comes with a mystique and an instant on-ramp to the neural center of any driver's enthusiast lizard brain. Even though it musters just a 6.0 on the TCC Rating scale, the Mazda MX-5 Miata does things no other convertible can do—and that singular stance has never gone out of style.