This little Mazda roadster has become something of an icon over the 26 years since it’s launch. Known as the MX-5 Miata Stateside and MX-5 in the rest of the world, the new car is lower and lighter (180 lbs less) and has a shorter wheelbase. Thankfully the cutesy smiley face has been replaced by a more serious and sinister one…..which we like. The first-gen MX-5 was undeniably cute, but it became the butt of many jokes with many calling it a ‘hairdressers car’ and it was rejected by many as a consequence. Now that it looks more assertive we think it may appeal to a wider range of buyers.
Engine and Drivetrain
Mazda have been placing the MX-5 engine further back in the car with each generation, and now most of it is mounted behind the front axles, which centralizes mass, and creates that perfect 50/50 weight distribution. The new engine is a little down on power offering 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, normally aspirated, of course. With the lower overal mass this gives the little Mazda a slightly better power to weight ratio than the outgoing model. Our car was a Launch Edition which unfortunately had a 6 speed automatic transmission……more on that later.
On The Road
This is where the Miata..er MX-5 Miata excels, top down on a 2 lane highway it feels like you are going at twice the speed. You have to check the speedometer to make sure you are not speeding. Mazda went from the standard hydraulic rack and pinion steering system to an electronic setup and it seems to work, the steering is precise and sharp and you can hit the apexes with ease. The new Mazda MX-5 handles better than 90 percent of the cars on the road. It changes direction quickly, and with its diminutive small size and good view from the front seat, you feel like you are in a go kart. The same praise cannot be dished out for the automatic transmission which does not mate well with the small 4 cylinder engine. The manual is the way to go and is the only option for this car in our opinion.
The upgraded Brembo brakes (bigger pads, bigger calipers, different vents on the discs) have good stopping power and good pedal feel.
The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata’s interior is pretty tight, especially if you are tall or wide. Take the top off and headroom is infinite though. Getting in and out is pretty easy and comfortable once you are ensconced in the excellent chairs, supported by a mesh-suspension design instead of traditional seat springs in order to save weight. Materials are of a very nice quality especially in the Touring trim model we drove.
As non fans of the original car, we really like this one, it’s fun at low speeds, so you can save your license and feel like you are traveling much faster. On several occasions we felt like we were going faster than the speed limit but on looking down, we
Do yourself a huge favor and get the manual. If you don’t know how to drive one yet, learn. We can;t wait to get our hands on one and enjoy this car as it was meant to be.
2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Numbers
Base Price: $29,420
Torque: 148 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm
0-60 mph: 6.7 sec (est)