Road tested: 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

We take the 2016 Mazda MX-5 out for a spin and like what we found.


SEATTLE, February 24, 2016 — Old things become anew again. That old colloquialism is truer than ever when it comes to Mazda’s latest iteration of the Miata series of cars. Having built a loyal fan base over the years for those who love to drive slow cars, fast, Mazda’s doing a great job refining this sporty two-seater.

Driving a slow car, fast? Let’s be honest the Miata – even in its current MX-5 iteration – is not a “fast” sports car. It never has been and doesn’t ever look to be, if Mazda keeps going with the engine choices it has. This car is about handling, open-air, top-down, six-speed manual transmission. The thrill of going faster than most other cars around corners; penned into side bolsters of your seat around those hairpin corners. It’s a light-weight car that delivers a sporty driving experience that is unmatched in its price category. In fact, there are really few cars its equal for around the $30k mark – we can’t think of any other 2-door rag-top that handles itself as well.

The 2.0 liter 4-cylindar develops a peak 155-horsepower using Mazda’s SKYACTIV fuel-saving technology and 148 lb-ft of torque. While it’s not a plethora of power, it’s enough to propel this 2309lb car to 60 miles per hour in 5.9 seconds with a manual transmission. There is an automatic available – the question is, why? Moving on.

The EPA gives this car a rating of 27 miles per gallon around the city and up to 36 miles per gallon the highway. Of course, that’s assuming you’re not heavy-footed while driving this car. And frankly, like all lower-powered cars, the only way to feel like you’re getting anywhere is to keep your right foot squarely planted on the accelerator pedal.

Mazda’s work on the exterior body lines can’t be ignored. More than ever, this car doesn’t look so much like a “chick car”. The more masculine body lines and aggressive-looking front fascia help it come across with a much more serious – slightly grown-up – look to it. The subtle lines lead to a back-end that also looks assertive, sporty and well-detailed.

If you’ve been following CDN for a while and are a fan of this car, then you likely saw my review on last year’s model and the contrast of the interior between that and this 2016 model. There’s no doubt that some of the largest improvements to this car are on the inside. The seats are more comfy, the overall interior space feels far less cramped than before and there’s the “it’s about time” of it having on-board navigation, Bluetooth telephony and audio.

Like other cars in the Mazda line-up, there’s a fixed LCD screen in the center of the dashboard that’s easy on the eyes and works in tandem with a toggle wheel located on the shifting column. This combination of touch screen and control knob works rather well, once you get the hang of. The upgraded Bose sound system in our test model has far superior quality than previous years of the Miata but still doesn’t match up to the best we’ve heard from the Harmon/Kardon systems in KIA/Hyundai.

Mazda has done a great job with the 2016 MX-5 Miata and really made it look far better than previous models and implemented a rather nicely appointed interior as well. Even though its straight-line performance won’t shatter any records soon, it still provides a rather spirited driving experience.

The only real issue for this car is catering to customers who fall outside of what makes it an endearing vehicle to own. It’s a simpleton sports coupe that’s not supposed to set land speed records in straight-line performance. It does accelerate rather well but this car is all about open top, six-speed manual, sun in your hair and windy roads. To that end, Mazda has knocked it out of the park and you really should teste drive one soon in order to see how much fun you can have driving a slow car, fast.

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