I'm not one to put value on what the 'stars'…
So what if it was late Fall when we got our hands on this hot, little, convertible number from Mazda? We weren’t going to pass up an opportunity to share a dance with the belle of the ball. Thankfully, the good-weather gods blessed us with a sunny weekend just in time to bask in everything that our colleagues have been gloating all year about the new Mazda MX-5 Miata.
And, yes, it came with a manual transmission.
Let’s start with the ease of the convertible top. I’ve owned a convertible in the past (albeit an electronic hardtop), and sometimes it’s just too much of a hassle to put the top down. It either takes too long or it takes two people (this is why you see people with ragtops on unbelievably gorgeous days with their lids shut — it’s just too much work).
These are the pitfalls of most drop-tops. But not the 2016 MX-5 Miata.
I’m not an expert, but Mazda’s is possibly the easiest convertible top to use that exists on the market today. With one simple motion of your arm (think the same motion as throwing a baseball), the top nearly effortlessly swings forward or pushes backward into place. The best part? There is only one latch to secure the top. Because of the central location of the clasp, either driver or passenger could handle putting the top down or back up again.
Ok. Enough about the drop-top, let’s move on to what you really want to read about. The Mazda Miata drives like a dream thanks to a 2.0L engine (producing 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque), SKACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission, and a short-throw gearbox. Because of its petite size the clutch, pedals and shifter are all well within reach, making the MX-5 one of those cars that’s just naturally easy to drive.
For taller drivers, the seats sort of simultaneously angle backward and slide downward to allow a more comfortable driving position. Our 6 ft.-2 in. test co-pilot felt the interior was a little tight for his stature but couldn’t find fault with its entertainment value.
The Miata is best bought as a second car — unless you really don’t have a significant other, more than one friend, or you’re just a minimalist. The trunk is deep yet still in scale with the car, meaning you can take your weekend bag and a few other essentials, but a second bag or larger item may have to ride shotgun. I fit my boxy violin case in the trunk with enough room for a laptop bag and other small items.
Visibility is best when the top is down, and that’s exactly how Mazda expects you to pilot its sports car. They are proud of their “open-air cabin” and its ability to connect you with the outside world.
One big challenge for potential buyers of the new Miata has little to do with the actual car but how flexible you are. The car sits quite low to the ground, which makes driving dynamics incredible, but entering and exiting the vehicle a bit more strategic. I, for instance, am 5 ft.-7 in. and fit nicely in the Miata’s cockpit; however, getting in and out of the car requires (even for a healthy 30-something like me) strength in the legs and core. If a female MX-5 owner, you may want to skip that dress or skirt of a certain length, but that’s a small penance to pay for enjoying seat time in this car every day.
Our tester vehicle was the middle-of-the-road Club trim and came priced just below the $30,000 mark. Each Mazda MX-5 Miata gets air conditioning, push-button ignition, manual cloth convertible top, USB input, Bluetooth connectivity, and a CD player.
We think you’ll like the features that come with a slight upgrade to the Club model:
- 17-inch wheels
- limited-slip differential on the SKYACTIV-MT
- Bilstein shocks
- front air dam and rear lip spoiler
- shock tower brace (MT models)
- piano black side mirrors and seat back bars
- Mazda’s CONNECT infotainment system with 7-inch color touchscreen display and voice commands
- SiriusXM satellite radio and HD radio
- BOSE 9 speaker audio system with headrest-mounted speakers
If you really want to go all out, then opt for the Brembo/BBS package, which adds lighter BBS wheels, Brembo front brakes with red brake calipers, and a rear bumper skirt. These additions definitely give the MX-5 a sportier, more personalized appearance without breaking the bank.
At just 2,332 pounds, the 2016 MX-5 Miata is a dream to drive, whether the sun is shining brightly or hidden behind the clouds. If the air is fresh and the weather nice, then why not put the top down and enjoy the drive?
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