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2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Test Drive

Reasons you’ll love the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata…

The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a love-it or hate-it kind of car. If you live by the motto that “it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast, than a fast car slow,” then you’ll absolutely love this little roadster; however, if you enjoy the feeling of driving a bigger car that quite literally “owns the road,” then the tiny, feather-light Miata may not appeal to your sensibilities. Nevertheless, the Miata continues to be a blast to drive, and its 2016 redesign leaves it looking better than ever.

Pros: Terrific handling, terrific steering, terrific brakes, terrific build quality, surprisingly comfortable, great fuel efficiency.

Cons: The Miata’s small dimensions may not be for everyone.

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The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata represents both the past and the future of the automobile. As a driver’s car, it’s a relic of the past. Not because it’s bad at what it does, but simply because the majority of modern consumers aren’t as taken by the act of driving as previous generations were. Manufacturers are slowly but surely bringing new vehicles ever closer to an autonomous future, a move that opposes the driver-centric premise of the Miata.

While the philosophy behind what makes a driver’s car is inching toward extinction, the idea of shedding pounds in the name of performance and fuel economy is finally beginning to take hold. Weighing in at a mere 2,332 lbs. with the standard 6-speed manual transmission, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata sheds nearly 150 lbs. in weight compared to its already feather-light predecessor.

Mazda was exacting in its mission to shed weight from the compact roadster. The company replaced the seat springs with a net urethane material, which saved 17 lbs. in weight from each individual seat (34 lbs. combined). Brake rotors, suspension pieces, and the transmission and driveshaft were scraped of mass, resulting in a combined weight savings of just under 60 lbs. Even the A/C and instrument cluster couldn’t escape Mazda’s knife, as the two units were redesigned to cut an additional 8 lbs. of weight from the infamous roadster.

In order to see how the Miata’s massive weight loss has affected the classic roadster, Mazda lent us a top-of-the-line 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring for a week of everyday driving.

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Exterior

Shunning the evolutionary theme of the past three generations of Miatas, the 2016 MX-5 Miata sports a revolutionary exterior design. Still a two-seat roadster, the similarities between the new car and its predecessor’s exterior styling ends there. Thin LED headlights sit atop a scowling grille, while dramatic fender bulges bring additional spectacle to the car’s front end. Out back, teardrop-shaped taillights flow into sensuous rear haunches that make roadster appear pleasingly upscale.

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Interior

Like the exterior, the interior of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata brings an entirely new design language to the roadster’s cabin. High-quality materials and a surprising amount of passenger space are highlights of the cabin.

Our Grand Touring test car’s cockpit featured a user-friendly 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Dubbed MAZDA CONNECT, the big screen is standard on mid-level MX-5 Miata Club models, as well. Base-level Miata Sports make do with a standard radio interface that includes knobs and buttons. Like the standard radio fact, MAZDA CONNECT is simple and intuitive enough to pick up within minutes of getting in the vehicle.

Unlike Miatas past, the 2016 MX-5 Miata includes a three-pod instrument cluster that places the tachometer front and center. A speedometer sits to the right, and digital fuel and cooling gauges to the left. Missing is an oil pressure gauge; a hallmark of previous Miata gauge clusters.

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Performance

With a total of 155 horsepower being produced from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata is actually down by as much as 12 horsepower compared to its predecessor. Fortunately, additional torque and the loss of nearly 150 lbs. do wonders to make the all-new Miata feel decidedly quicker than last year’s car (even with our test car’s 6-speed automatic transmission).

Those willing to accept this compromise of less power paired with less overall weight, will be delighted with the Miata’s inevitable trade-off: handling prowess. Light and tossable, the Miata is a delight to hustle around roundabouts, curves and on-ramps. 

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Safety

All 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata models come standard with dual front and side airbags. Our top-of-the-line Grand Touring model also added a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross traffic alert system and a lane departure warning system.

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Price

Starting at $24,915 (MSRP), the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Sport comes standard with features like 16-inch aluminum wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a USB port and Bluetooth. Buyers can add a push-button start system with keyless entry for $130 to 6-speed manual-equipped Miatas. Opting for the $1,075 automatic transmission includes the push-button start system.

Racier Club models start at $28,600, and add 17-inch wheels, piano black side mirror covers and seatback roll bars, a unique front air dam and rear lip spoiler, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a second USB port and a 9-speaker Bose audio system. Manual transmission Club models also include goodies like a limited-slip differential (LSD), Bilstein shocks and a front shock tower brace. A push-button start system is available for $130. Opting for the $1,075 automatic transmission includes the push-button start system. Meanwhile, buyers can also add forged 17-inch BBS wheels, Brembo front brakes with red calipers clamping all four discs and additional bodywork as part of a $3,400 package.

Finally, the top-of-the-line Grand Touring trims runs a cool $30,065. Grand Touring trims add 17-inch aluminum wheels with a dark silver finish, automatic climate control, leather seats, a Homelink garage door opener, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a navigation system, automatic high beam headlights, an adaptive front lighting system, and a full suite of safety features including a blind-spot monitoring system, a rear cross-traffic alert system and a lane-departure warning system. Like the Sport and Club, buyers can add a push-button start system with keyless entry for $130 to 6-speed manual-equipped Miatas. While opting for the $1,075 automatic transmission includes the push-button start system.

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Overall

The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata is the perfect blend of future engineering technology and classic analog driving. Comfortable, tossable and fuel efficient, the little MX-5 Miata is a treat to drive day-in and day-out. Whether you love to drive, or just enjoy the convertible experience, it’s hard to find much fault with the 2016 Miata.

Images by Gregory Fink

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