2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review - Shorter, Wider, Lighter, Smarter +VIDEO
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
“Good roads are the ones where you don’t have a car in front of you,” said Mazda’s Dave Coleman at the recent North American introduction of the all-new MX-5 roadster.
We had the chance to experience just that in our drive of the 2016 Miata along the mountain-rural Angels Crest Highway, a 66-mile long, two-lane segment of California State Route 2 over the San Gabriel Mountains, in Los Angeles County, California. Segments of the road reach altitudes above 7,000 feet, with a summit of 7,903 feet at the Dawson Saddle, which makes this road one of the highest in Southern California.
As a point of reference the first Miata was introduced at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show and now 26 years later more than 950,000 have been sold globally. I drove a first generation Miata back in the early 1990s and have driven a number of the newer generations since then. When I slide down into the Miata’s driver’s seat and grab hold of the steering wheel and shift lever it takes me back to my younger years and my ’67 Triumph TR4A. I put lots of miles on my Triumph touring the back roads of Eastern U.S.
The cost of fun in the 2016 MX-5 Miata is quite reasonable with the Sport model priced at $24,915. There’s also a Club model at $28,600 and a Grand Touring at $30,065.
Acceleration from stop to 60 mph takes around 6 seconds. And, at the same time, fuel efficiency has been increased by 25 percent for the six-speed manual. EPA test fuel economy ratings are 27 city mpg and 34 highway mpg. The new city rating is nearly the same as the previous generations highway rating.
In our test drive we drove freeways and two lane open roads, along with a few residential streets. The Miata’s engine and transmission delivered everything we asked of it. Acceleration, highway merging, passing and cruising are all done with ease. The manual transmission is as smooth as butter to shift with short throws that firmly engage each gear. The light weight of the MX-5 is evident in the vehicle’s overall performance.
The new MX-5 is designed following Mazda’s KODO – Soul of Motion design philosophy. The designers strived to achieve a beautiful roadster whether the top is up or down. The designers also worked to maximize the pleasure of open-top driving while providing good wind control. The soft top is manually opened and closed and is very easy to operate while seated. An aluminum roof panel in the inside above the seats helps reduce wind noise and also forms the hard shell covering the boot when the top is down. Headrest speakers are smartly used for better top-down listening.
Standard on all MX-5 models are air conditioning, push-button starter, a manual cloth convertible top, power door locks, USB input, Bluetooth wireless phone pairing and audio streaming, leather shift knob and CD player.
MX-5 Sport models come equipped with 16-inch wheels and 195/50 tires, cloth seats, a six-speaker audio system with an auxiliary jack and cruise control.
Club models come with 17-inch wheels with 205/45 tires, a limited-slip differential and shock tower brace on manual models, Bilstein shocks, front air dam and rear lip spoiler, piano black side mirror covers and seat back bars, MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system with seven-inch color touchscreen display and voice commands, multi-function commander control, HD radio, two USB inputs, smart keyless entry, a BOSE nine-speaker audio system with headrest-mounted speakers and Sirius satellite radio.
MX-5 Grand Touring comes with bright 17-inch wheels with 205/45 tires, leather-trimmed seats, automatic climate control, a nine-speaker BOSE audio system with headrest-mounted speakers, Homelink garage door opener, HD radio and Sirius satellite radio. It also includes Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE suite of safety technologies, including blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive front lighting, lane departure warning, high beam control and rain-sensing wipers. (
Are you ready for a road trip? Long live the Roadster.
© 2015 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy
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