We know summer flings are ephemeral, but that doesn’t make it smart any less when our dalliances come to an end. That's how the Automobile staff felt when a 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata left our fleet after two months of summer driving.

We spent time with the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata not to evaluate the third-generation roadster's driving performance. Plenty of words have been written about the car since we first sampled it in Hawaii in 2006, and there have been few changes to the NC Miata over the past eight years. Our two months with the car served as a reminder why the Miata is so much fun that it has attracted a million buyers in the last 25 years.

To get started, we flipped out the header latch, held down the small button that operates the power hardtop, and blasted to and from work, friends' houses, and errands with the wind in our hair. The Mazda's zoom-zoom nature made every single trip fun. Soon, we paired up our brand-new Miata with road test editor Chris Nelson's 1991 first-generation car. Is there a more joyful automotive photo than of those two roadsters with their headlights and grille openings producing smiley-face looks that would make Lightning McQueen proud?

"For a car on the verge of being replaced, there’s surprisingly little about which to complain," senior editor David Zenlea says of the 2014 car. “If I were going to buy a new two-seat sports car -- and couldn't afford a Porsche Boxster or Chevrolet Corvette -- I'd definitely want a Miata."

So youthful and freeing is the experience of riding in the Mazda Miata that your author was able to persuade his significant other to undertake a mad-dash weekend trip to Washington, D.C., with the roof down. “I loved feeling the wind in my hair as we drove through the Pennsylvania mountains,” she says. The monotony of the Ohio Turnpike is somewhat bearable when you're getting a tan along the way.

Associate Web editor Eric Weiner had never driven a Mazda Miata before this year. While the BMW Z3 he owns is his favorite droptop, the Miata's fun-loving spirit inspired Weiner to make a last-minute, unscheduled trip to Lake Michigan. “The car feels focused and committed to simple driving enjoyment,” he reports. “With the top down, the Miata was truly in its element.”

Other staffers have similar praise.

"Getting into most new cars involves fiddling with things like Bluetooth, navigation, climate control, and driving modes," associate Web editor Joseph Capparella says. "When I get in the Miata, I only take three simple steps: Adjust seat, steering wheel, and mirrors; lower the top; drive."

"The Miata still sets the bar for a small, fun-to-drive front-engine, rear-wheel-drive car," videographer Sandon Voelker concurs. "It constantly reminds me it’s not about how much power a car makes but how it makes that power and how it puts it to the ground. It really is astounding that it’s 2014 and I’m still singing the praises of a car with only 167 hp."

Road test editor Nelson is the lone staffer who did not wax poetic over our Mazda. He drove the car once and shrugged, "It’s a Miata."

The Miata is dead. Long live the Miata!

This was the last time most of us will ever drive an NC-generation MX-5 (aside from executive editor Todd Lassa, who owns a 2008 Miata he and his wife, Donna, bought new).

“The ’14 is like my own car, though with a slightly nicer interior, the availability of satellite radio with the iPod connector, and an overly smiley-face grille from the mid-cycle face-lift,” Lassa says. “I didn’t take this car on any long trips, though just in the daily commute mostly along Woodward Avenue, this car reminded me how even stop-and-go traffic can be fun, with the top and -- always -- the windows down.”

The car continues for the 2015 model year -- including a sold-out 25th Anniversary model -- and then this version of the roadster disappears for good. Fortunately, the all-new 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata that replaces this model stays true to the car's back-to-basics mission: driver-focused interior, 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine, rear-wheel drive, and a six-speed manual transmission.

In other words, we need not fret that the Miata is going away. Instead, we're thinking of all the roads we'll drive and the places we'll see in the fourth-generation car. We will, of course, test the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata's performance and handling, but our last ride with the 2014 car has us even more excited for the many adventures we'll have with the new Miata. It has been a great 25-year run for Mazda's roadster, and we've got high hopes for the next 25 years.

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