You call it Miata, they call it MX-5, and we call 2016 model a winner

The Mazda MX-5 has been redesigned for 2016, but it still retains all the qualities that make it one of the most-fun vehicles to drive available today. In 2000 Guinness World Records certified it as the world’s “best-selling two-seater sports car.”

2016 Mazda MX-5

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Mazda plans to show off a new sports car concept at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show Oct. 30-Nov. 8.

If it is half the car that the Japanese automaker’s MX-5 Miata is, it’s going to be a huge hit.

No car in showrooms today exemplifies what sports cars originally were all about — i.e, not necessarily just brute power but handling and agility as well — than this classic roadster.

Introduced in 1989 when it was shown at the Chicago Auto Show, the MX-5, or Miata as it is more commonly known as in the U.S., just keeps on getting better, but one thing remains constant. When it comes to fun-to-drive vehicles, including even some in the six-figure class, you’re not going find many, if any, better than the Miata, especially when you’re working it with the six-speed manual transmission. (If you’re going to get one with the automatic, you’re missing out on half the fun!)

The company gave the MX-X a complete makeover for 2016, trimming about 150 pounds off its former weight to a waif-like 2,332 pounds and adding such modern enhancements as an available 7-inch touchscreen for operation of new infotainment features.

The MX-5 embraces both Mazda’s SKYACTIV technology with its more fuel efficient, torquier engine and the company’s KODO “Soul of Motion” design philosophy, which results in a bolder and — dare we say it? — more masculine exterior appearance.

It comes in three trim versions as it enters its fourth generation: Sport, Club and Grand Touring. All feature the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is rated at 155 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 148 pound-feet of torque at 4600 rpm. Not particularly large numbers, of course, but with a vehicle this size, they deliver plenty of pop.

The six-speed manual transmission, which offers short, smooth throws, is standard with a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters available as an option. Fuel economy is slightly better with the automatic, 27 miles-per-gallon city, 36 highway to the manual’s 27/34, but what the heck are you looking at fuel economy for?

While the fuel economy is pretty good either way, it shouldn’t be high on your list of priorities when shopping for the MX-5. It isn’t what this vehicle is all about, and in case you have forgotten, what it is all about is driving experience and fun.

Everything about the MX-5 evokes that spirit, even the way the soft convertible top retracts and raises. The driver (or the passenger) simply releases a center latch at the top of the windshield support and flips the top back overhead, clicking it in place.

To raise it, you don’t even have to get out of your seat. Simply release the latch on at the top of the back center wall and the top pops up slightly. Just reach back and pull it over head and then lock it in place.

Couldn’t be simpler. The whole operation takes mere seconds.

What isn’t so simple, however, is some of the technological features. Operating the audio system requires some unusual steps simply to change radio stations, and the optional navigation system has the annoying habit of reverting back to a preset scale for the map no matter what the setting was when you were last in the car.

Also, no backup camera is offered, and one would really be nice because the view out the rear is somewhat restricted when the top is up and in place. They are going to be required for all vehicles built from May 2018 on any way, so it’s just a matter of time before they will have to be on the MX-5. Oddly, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning are standard on the Grand Touring models, but still no camera.

The 2016 MX-5 carries a base MSRP of $24, 915 for Sport models, and the Grand Touring tops the line with an MSRP of $30,065 before destination and delivery charges are added. Club models start at $28,600 with an optional Brembo Brakes package adding $3,400. The automatic transmission adds $1,075 to the cost.

For a look at the new MX-5 and some more details, check out the accompanying slide show.

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