New Miata MX-5 owns pocket roadster segment

2016 MX-5 Grand Touring with new manual easy open soft top

For over 25 years, while others have come and gone, the Mazda Miata MX-5 has delivered affordable excitement in a two-seat rear wheel drive roadster that is a great daily driver, comfortable weekend roadster and also a capable car on the track. More than one generation of enthusiasts have started with an earlier MX-5 and never left. Through the years, enthusiasts moved up to a new version when they came available as their love of, what we call a pocket roadster, never wavered.

Now, in 2016, there is a seriously improved fourth generation Miata MX-5 available that is certain to put new fire in those older relationships and is sure to kindle new ones as well.

For 2016, the Mazda Miata MX-5 offers their best pocket roadster ever – more power, more fuel efficiency, more technology, new styling, better handling and more fun packed into a lighter, but still lean and muscular, body with improved suspension that cruises easily around town, on the highway and on a track – if you are so inclined.

And, for years now, it is the only two-seat roadster available for – what we call – an affordable price. The 2016 MX-5 is priced as low as $24,915 for the base version to a fully loaded luxury model at $30,065. There are other two-seat sports coupes available in their price range, but no roadsters (convertibles) even close to this price. The Miata MX-5 clearly stands alone in their segment with an affordable two-seat roadster that stands out with styling, performance and features sure to please.

2016 Miata MX-5 Grand Touring

Mazda recently sent us the new top-of-the-line MX-5 Grand Touring for drive test. Sporting a vibrant Soul Red paint job with a rich Black interior, it was equipped with the (new for Miata) SKYACTIV-G 2.0L engine and standard SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission. More powerful and fuel efficient than earlier generations, the SKYACTIV-G produces 155 horsepower at 6,000 RPM with 148 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,600 RPM. Matched to the six-speed manual, it is fuel economy rated at 27/34 mpg city/highway and 30 mpg combined.

The Grand Touring comes well-loaded running on bright 17-inch wheels mounted with 2015/45R17 high performance tires, heated leather trimmed seats and automatic climate control to start. A Bose seven channel digital amplifier powering a nine-speaker audio system with head-rest mounted speakers using Bose TrueSpace technology provides the audio including, HD radio and SiriusXM Satellite radio. Also includes are auto on/off LED headlamps and Daytime Running Lights, dual vanity mirrors, 7-inch color touch display, heated power side mirrors, manual folding black cloth-with-liner soft top, glass rear window with defroster, and dual exhaust with chrome tips.

It was also equipped with the Mazda ACTIVSENSE safety technologies package that included blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive LED front lighting, lane departure control and rain-sensing wipers.

The base price for our test MX-5 was $30,065. Adding in a $300 charge for the Soul Red paint job and Advanced Keyless Entry system for $130 and delivery of $820 – our 2016 Mazda Miata MX-5 priced at $31,317.

Driving Impressions

PROS:

  • Sleek updated styling with many luxury touches inside
  • Bose audio system with specific top up or top down tuning for clarity
  • Full load of useful technology and driver convenience features
  • Good ride with excellent handling, steering and braking
  • Excellent engine and manual transmission integration to maximize horsepower and torque
  • Quick clutch operation with slick handling short throw shifter
  • Easy ‘one hand’ soft top manual open and close
  • New lower seating position gives good head room getting in and out with top up

CONS:

  • Cockpit seating and tunnel is a bit small for bigger folks and could be uncomfortable for long periods of driving
  • Plastic cupholder is mounted on console side in passenger leg space
  • Isolated cheap-looking plastic features such as the sun visors with unfinished rear sides
  • Small pedals and tight placement require careful clutch and brake operation
  • No rear camera to compliment several other safety features

MX-5 Lineup for 2016

The 2016 MX-5 comes in three trim levels all equipped with the SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission. They are the Sport (MSRP $24,915), Club (MSRP $28,600) and our test vehicle, the Grand Touring (MSRP $30,065). For another $1,075 a six-speed automatic transmission can be substituted. But why would you? The fun of Miata is in the driving experience that is best appreciated through personal management of the new MX-5 and power plant – using the efficient clutch and short throw gearbox to maximize performance.

All trims come standard with the new manual soft top, air conditioning, push-button start, power door locks, USB input, Bluetooth wireless phone pairing and audio streaming, leather shift knob and CD player.

The Sport runs on 16-inch wheels mounted with 195/50R16 tires, cloth seats, six-speaker audio with auxiliary jack plus cruise control and keyless entry if equipped with automatic transmission.

Club moves up to 17-inch wheels and 205/45R17 tires, adds a limited slip differential to the MT power train and includes Bilstein Shocks, front air dam with rear lip spoiler, piano black side mirror covers, and seat back bars. Also included are the Mazda Connect infotainment system with 7-inch touchscreen display, voice commands, multi-function commander control, HD radio, two USB input ports, and a Bose nine-speaker audio system with headrest mounted speakers and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

And, if you want, you can add to the Club a Brembo/BBS package that includes forged 17-inch BBS Wheels, Brembo front brakes with red-painted calipers on all four wheels, a rear bumper skirt and side sill extensions.

For us, we liked the MX-5 Grand Touring that we tested. It was fully loaded with just about all you could want in a very flashy looking and high performing pocket roadster that does not break your bank for a sporty daily driver that is also a comfortable weekend touring roadster.

So, unless you really do want to spend upwards of $50,000 for a two-seat roadster, choose all of the driving pleasure and excitement you can want – for a lot less – by purchasing the MX-5 Grand Touring and put the rest of the money in your pocket.

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