Jan 19, 2019

What we're driving: The Mazda Miata MX-5 RF

Mazda Miata is a blast to drive even in winter. Photo: Mazda

It's the middle of January and I'm tooling around Detroit in a two-seat Mazda Miata MX-5 RF convertible. There's something depressing about driving a droptop in the dead of winter. You want nothing more than to fold down the top and feel the breeze in your hair.

So I admit I wasn't enthusiastic about stuffing myself, down parka and all, into the low-slung coupe with the retractable aluminum hardtop — until I pressed the clutch and peeled out onto the icy street.

Tires make the difference. This 2019 Miata is outfitted with Bridgestone Blizzak winter tires and standard traction control, so in light snow I felt as confident as I did zipping around in the ragtop last summer. The ride is slightly harsher, and a bit noisier, but who cares when you're having this much fun?

Mazdas are for people who like driving, so don't expect full autonomy in the future. But the Miata RF is available with the usual assisted-driving technology like blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and low-speed automatic emergency braking.

The Miata is one of my all-time favorite cars — in summer anyway — the kind of midlife crisis car you'd buy if you had an extra $33,000 lying around.

The bottom line: I found myself wishing for a blizzard so I could play around in the snow drifts. Sadly, I had to give it back yesterday, just as a half-foot of snow is predicted.

Read what else I've driven here.

Go deeper

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As recently as Saturday night, senior administration officials told me that the designation of a violent cohort of far-left activists, antifa, as a terrorist organization was not being seriously discussed at the White House. But that was Saturday.

Behind the scenes: The situation changed dramatically a few hours later, after prominent conservative allies of the president, such as his friend media commentator Dan Bongino, publicly urged a tough response against people associated with antifa (short for "anti-fascist").

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Protests continued across the country for the sixth day in a row on Sunday, as demonstrators called for justice in response to the deaths of George Floyd, EMT Breonna Taylor, jogger Ahmaud Arbery and countless other black Americans who have suffered at the hands of racism and police brutality.

What's happening: Protestors in D.C. broke one police barricade outside the White House on Sunday evening after reportedly demonstrating for several hours. The atmosphere was still largely peaceful as of 6pm ET.

Trump privately scolded, warned by allies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Over the past couple of days, numerous advisers both inside and outside the White House have urged the president to tone down his violent rhetoric, which many worry could escalate racial tensions and hurt him politically.

Behind the scenes: The biggest source of internal concern was Trump's escalatory tweet, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Some advisers said it could damage him severely with independent voters and suburban women.