Mazda 2016 mx5

Mazda's magnificent new MX-5 isn't a return to form, it's a mastery of it

If you’ve ever experienced an automotive brand’s marketing, via television advertising, social media, billboards, and everything in between, then you (a) live somewhere in the civilized world, and (b) have rolled your eyes at some point in response to said campaign’s messaging.

Almost every major automaker is guilty of embellishing the characteristics of either its vehicle or its target audience, but at least in the U.S., we’ve grown accustomed to the marketing universe in which ads match real-life scenarios of car-and-man interaction.

Therefore, when Mazda launched the “Driving Matters” campaign, I was primed to shrug off yet another series of promotions where an average driver somehow discovers an abandoned, breathtaking road and responds with a massive grin on his or her face. But then something happened that overlaid the marketing universe with the real one…I experienced the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata, on a breathtaking road, and the dumb ol’ grin was there too.

That was several weeks ago now, and in the time since I first experienced the fourth generation (ND) Miata, I’ve begun to doubt whether the little roadster was actually as good as I remembered it. Predictably, it’s just not the same as my memory…it’s better.

Back to [better] basics

There isn’t a single thing about the 2016 MX-5 that’s revolutionary. It has three pedals, a handbrake, a naturally-aspirated engine, a rear-wheel drive setup, and a manual folding fabric roof. However, each of its characteristics, including steering, handling, power delivery, and braking are engineered to a level of precision only matched by cars costing at least twice as much.

Miles Branman/Digital Trends

Miles Branman/Digital Trends

Miles Branman/Digital Trends

Miles Branman/Digital Trends

The Miata has always been focused on the benefits of lightweight construction, and the ND generation is the closest match for the original NA’s essence. At 2,332 pounds, the ND MX-5 weighs just 200 pounds more than the 1990 roadster while utilizing a larger engine and meeting far more stringent safety standards. Mazda calls this feat “SkyActiv” engineering, which covers everything from the no-frills cabin (1/8-inch thick sun visors, compact infotainment display, and thin seats) to the mechanics (lighter exhaust manifold, oil pan, fuel pump, and flywheel).

Thanks to extensive weight savings, the 2016 MX-5 doesn’t need a whole lot of power to get moving. A heavily revised version of the Mazda3’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine slots neatly under the Miata’s long, sculpted hood and serves up 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. While down on power compared to the previous generation “NC” MX-5, the new Miata’s power-to-weight ratio is improved, meaning a quicker sprint to 60 mph in 5.9-seconds and a respectable 129 mph top speed. Sure, for nearly the same money, you can gain access to vehicles with almost double the output, but power is only a single dimension of complete driving pleasure.

This is still a momentum car that will reward skilled drivers, but there’s finally enough pep that minivans won’t dust you.

Transferring grunt to the rear wheels is either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. While I’m sure the automatic is a fine gearbox, I firmly believe the MX-5 is handicapped from delivering its full potential when optioned with anything other than a manual, especially when the gearbox is this good. Each throw of the shifter is short, crisp, and met with a subtle, yet assuring “click” into place. With a sensible amount of low-end torque to get the MX-5 up to speed, the SkyActiv engine really sings through third and fourth gear above 3,000 rpm. This is still a momentum car that will reward skilled drivers at the track or on a technical road, but along straights, there’s finally enough pep that minivans won’t embarrass you.

Complementing the ND power punch is its phenomenal steering, braking, and suspension tuning. While enthusiasts might bemoan Mazda’s decision to ditch the hydraulic steering rack for an electrically-assisted unit, this is easily one of the best systems available. Not only is turn-in lightning quick, but weight also buildings as the g-forces do mid-corner, leading to a natural, balanced feel with each input. In Club-spec (which adds a limited-slip differential, shock tower brace, and Bilstein shocks for an additional $3,685), Mazda lowered and recalibrated the suspension to stabilize the MX-5 through even the sharpest corners. The ND’s chassis feels neutral at the limit, communicating precisely when and how the nose and rear wants to behave, allowing you to maintain optimal traction.

While the standard MX-5’s brakes are more than capable of reining in the speeds of a lightweight sports car, if you opt for the $3,400 Brembo front brake upgrade (which includes 17-inch black forged-alloy wheels), you’re in for some staggeringly good stopping power. If you plan to track your Miata, you can always independently swap the stock pads and fluid for something meatier, but out of the box, it will be hard to match the consistent, spine-folding braking potential of the Brembos.

Sensuality and sense

Though the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata’s driving experience will leave you craving more seat-time, that’s not quite enough of a value proposition for a $24,915 vehicle purchase. Earnestly, you could build a rivaling driver’s car for less (I’ve done it before), but you won’t be able to match the ND’s exceptionally attractive figure and convenience features unless you’re ready to shell out far more coin.

Miles Branman/Digital Trends

Miles Branman/Digital Trends

Miles Branman/Digital Trends

Miles Branman/Digital Trends

Starting with the cabin, though Mazda has gone to great lengths to cut weight, the Japanese automaker has also refined the interior to give driver and passenger a break from the action. Drivers over 6’3” may need to look elsewhere, but everyone else will enjoy the lowered, more ergonomic driving position. The seats may not look all that aggressive or comfortable, but they’ve been engineered to both firmly hold you in place during hard cornering and keep you relaxed during longer drives. The steering wheel’s small diameter and just-right thickness is a treat to manipulate, the pedals are spaced perfectly for heel-toe downshifting, and the shifter is sturdy and has a perfect shape for small or large mitts.

Mazda’s Connect infotainment system is one of the best in the industry, with excellent feedback from the selection dial, quick responses from the system, intelligent button redundancies, and clear navigation readout. Mazda has chosen not to embrace Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which isn’t yet a big deal, but the lack of an available backup camera seems a bit lazy. Perhaps my favorite element of the new interior is the manual folding soft-top, which is a single-handed, four-second affair thanks to its smartly-designed hitching mechanism.

Then there’s the exterior. I used to think there was a rule somewhere that new cars costing less than $30,000 couldn’t be called “beautiful,” yet during my week with the 2016 MX-5, that’s precisely the word several on-lookers used to describe the new Miata’s design.

The story of the fourth-generation Miata’s featherweight character is told through the new bodywork. Its sharp creases appear to result from someone stretching the body panels as tightly as possible around its figure. The hood features bold arches over the front wheels, and the taillights give the MX-5 a wide stance. The abbreviated front and rear overhangs give it a lower, more streamlined stance. Classic Miata design cues like the single round taillights remain while new squinty-eyed headlights and a wide-mouthed (less smiley) grille have been added. Standard 16-inch gloss-black wheels add to the 2016 MX-5’s low, sleek figure. The Club package’s gloss black front splitter, side sills, and rear diffuser add a squat, aggressive look.

Three neighbors who I’ve maybe shared ten words with individually each crept over to my garage to admire the design. One thought it was an Italian sports car, another had owned the original NA and was blown away by the styling evolution, and the third simply thought the Soul Red color was “really pretty.” Out and about, middle-aged men and teenagers alike threw out the thumbs up, yelled “nice car,” and stared endlessly at the compact, yet sensual shape. I don’t know where the previous generation Miata’s “feminine” stigma came from, but this new one is universally sexy and worthy of owner pride.

Ravished by a roadster

Up your game and the get the most out of your gear with the following extras, hand-picked by our editors:

Escort Passport 9500ix Radar Detector ($384)

It may not be the fastest car on the block, but you’ll want to push the 2016 MX-5 to its limits every day, and that usually means you’ll want to avoid unwanted attention of the enforcer kind.

GoPro Hero4 ($500)

Chances are, you’ll want to see what your little speed demon can do on the track. Why not record your progress over time and brag about it online?

Ray-Ban RB3016 Classic Clubmaster ($74)

Roadsters = top-down fun, but that also means a healthy dose of sun in the eyes. Get the best protection so you can drive in the elements all day.

It’s arduous to put the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata into perspective within the automotive market, in part because the herd of rivals has thinned dramatically over time. What other vehicle offers handsome looks and a world-class driving experience for the price of a Toyota Camry? The Toyota GT86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ is too heavy and the Alfa Romeo 4C is too expensive.

But it’s more than power-to-weight or price; it’s the fact that the fingerprints of Mazda engineers are all over the fourth-generation roadster. You can feel how the team in charge of the transmission slaved over the precise sensation of notching the lever into gear. You can sense how the person(s) responsible for steering communication toiled endlessly to dial in the perfect level of feedback. You can see how the designers blended old and new into a gorgeous mold.

In return for the intensity of its labor, Mazda only asks that you hustle its roadster like it was intended to be driven, and help prove that driving still matters.


  • One of the best manual gearboxes ever engineered
  • Sensual curves
  • Perfectly balanced chassis
  • Smooth, progressive power delivery
  • Telepathic steering


  • The Miata doesn’t really “do” trunk space
  • Backup camera, please

Джереми Кларксон о Mazda MX-5 2016 года

Я уже говорил раньше и снова повторюсь: на совещаниях ещё не рождалось ничего прекрасного. Совещание по своей природе призвано привести людей к согласию. А согласие не отличается крайностями. Маргарин появился в результате совещания. Масло – нет.

Я как-то работал с телережиссером, который позволял всем спорить о том, что мы делаем дальше. А затем он поднимал руку и говорил, тихо, но уверенно: «Хорошо. У нас будет совещание, на котором говорю только я, а затем что-то происходит». И именно так мы работали, и всё получалось хорошо.

«Гравитация» не была результатом совещания. «Спитфайр» – тоже. Но большинство современных машин появляются в результате совещаний, и поэтому почти все они нагоняют зевоту. Инженерам приходится поступаться своим мнением, чтобы удовлетворить прихоти дизайнеров, которые, в свою очередь, должны подстраивать свои взгляды под тех, кто устанавливает правила. Последние же должны удовлетворять прихоти бухгалтеров, которые сердятся, потому что вчера вечером им звонили инженеры и доказывали, что многорычажная подвеска необходима.

И тут всю ситуацию усложняют умники-электронщики, которые всех уже достали своей странной наукой, и которым, видимо, всегда всё удается. Вероятно, потому что никто не знает, о чём они говорят. Умники эти сидят и рассказывают людям, которые не могут отличить айфон от факса, о том, как прямо во время движения при помощи двоичного кода можно изменять характеристики автомобиля. И для профанов это звучит круто.

«Ух ты. Вы можете сделать подвеску мягче, средней жесткости или совсем жесткой? Можете поменять ощущения от руля, или даже изменить мощность двигателя?»

Понятно, почему совет директоров и отдел маркетинга выбирают такие технологии. Но на самом деле то, как ощущается автомобиль, теперь зависит от его покупателя. А он, будучи IT-менеджером в компании по поставке стройматериалов, не может отличить одного конца амортизатора от другого.

Объясню так. Когда покупаешь действительно хороший усилитель, созданный прекрасным звукоинженером, то на аппарате всего две кнопки: одна включает и выключает его, вторая настраивает громкость. Когда покупаешь довольно плохой усилок, то у него всегда есть графический эквалайзер.

А теперь про новую Mazda MX-5. Предыдущая модель 25 лет была самым продаваемым спорткаром в мире – это благодаря сочетанию невысокой цены, простоты в использовании и того факта, что машина вас радовала всякую минуту. Ощущения можно поставить в один ряд с игрой голяком в твистер со Скарлетт Йоханссон и Камерон Диас.

Когда решалось, как будет выглядеть новая версия Mazda MX-5, умники-электронщики наверняка там присутствовали, подпрыгивая и говоря, что у них есть технологии, при помощи которых можно менять форму крышки багажника и которые позволяют фарам заглядывать за угол. И, вероятно, соблазн был велик. Но я невероятно рад, что умникам этим было сказано заткнуться и выйти вон.

Эту модель делали инженеры, причем делали именно так, как им нравится. Во время движения вы не можете ничего менять. И спустя уже одну сотую секунды вы подумаете: «Да и зачем? Машина идеальная». Хотя на самом деле я подумал совсем не то. Мне пришла мысль: «Боже, я толстею».

В прошлую версию MX-5 я умещался без особых усилий, но в новой версии я чувствовал себя так, словно я солонина, а машина – консервная банка. Прохожие могли видеть, как мои щеки и, наверное, ухо вжимались в стекло двери, а в лобовом стекле было видно только рубаху и глаза.

Чтобы достать до основных элементов управления, расположенных за рычагом КПП, мне нужно было чуть ли не отделить от себя своё плечо. Вам нужно быть тираннозавром, чтобы увеличить громкость стереосистемы. Достать что-то из кармана за вашим левым плечом? Забудьте. Мне нужно было остановиться, выйти из машины и влезть в неё головой вперед, чтобы достать мой телефон. Но даже тут я умудрился потянуть спину.

Когда друзья меня усадили на место водителя, я решил, что мне пора сесть на диету. Но, приехав домой, я узнал, что новая Mazda MX-5 немного короче предыдущей версии. Прекрасно. Не моя это вина, что я не помещаюсь. Открывайте пачку печенья.

Если вы не гигант, то в машине вам будет удобно, вы вполне уместитесь. И та же история с багажником – места в нём хватает как раз для двух сумок для однодневной поездки с ночевкой. 

Но не думаю, что вам захочется проводить где-то ночь, ведь – ох! – этот прекрасный маленький автомобиль так хорош в вождении! Из-за своей органичности, простоты и незамысловатости, MX-5 ощущается именно так, как и должен чувствоваться спортивный автомобиль. Он поёт, радуется и прыгает туда-сюда. Он всегда рад действовать. Эта машина – лекарство от депрессии, реально. Когда находишься внутри, то плохого настроения не может быть вообще.

Ещё мне нравится, что новая версия выглядит чуточку серьезнее предыдущей. Та была чуть глуповатой, действительно, и расхлябанной. Новая смотрится так, словно настроена серьёзно. Это бойцовский кролик.

Может быть, если вы на длинном повороте и скорости под 100 км/ч очень и очень сконцентрируетесь, то почувствуете, что у руля есть небольшая «мертвая» зона. Но зачем обращать на это внимание, когда над головой 93 миллиона миль свободного пространства, светит солнце, по радио звучит Стив Харли, а вы включили третью передачу на прекрасной маленькой коробке и теперь двигатель тоже поет?

Я тестировал 2-литровую версию, и она прекрасна. Но мне сказали (а мнение этих людей я уважаю), что 1,5-литровая версия ещё лучше. Только одна вещь меня немного разозлила. Систему спутниковой навигации, как я думаю, делали умники-электронщики, которым не дали творить чёрные дела над подвеской. Так что в отместку они сделали навигацию, с которой вы заблудитесь. Стоит ли мне за это снять одну звезду? Нет, ведь потеряться в Mazda MX-5 – значит провести в ней ещё больше времени, а это не отнюдь не страдание.

Единственное, что мне не нравилось в старой версии, – недостаточно выраженная индивидуальность машины. Я как-то проехал на ней из северного Ирака через Турцию, Сирию и Иорданию в Израиль, и тогда эта машина не смогла запасть мне в душу. Смогла бы это сделать новая версия, с её изменившейся внешностью, от которой машина кажется серьёзнее? Вероятно, да.

Итак, вот он итог. Изменив совсем немного и воздержавшись от последней моды на сложную электронику, Mazda снова подарила нам прекрасный самородок, который получает пять звёзд.


Вердикт: ★★★★★

Шедевр инженерной мысли

Беглый обзор:

Управляемость: ★★★★★

Комфортабельность: ★★★☆☆

Динамика: ★★★★☆

Салон: ★★★☆☆

Практичность: ★★★☆☆

Стоимость: ★★★★☆


✓ Такая прелестная управляемость

✓ Места в багажнике хватит, чтоб уложить вещи для однодневной поездки

✓ Дизайн лучше, чем у предыдущей модели


× Не особо подойдет для тучных людей

× Или для очень высоких

× Навигация заведет вас не туда


Стоимость: £24 295

Двигатель: 1998 см³, 4 цилиндра, бензиновый

Мощность: 158 л.с. при 6000 об/мин.

Крутящий момент: 199 Нм при 4600 об/мин.

Трансмиссия: 6-ступенчатая, механика, задний привод

Разгон: 0-100 км/ч за 7,3 сек.

Максимальная скорость: 214 км/ч

Расход топлива: 5,75 л/100 км

Выброс CO2: 161 г/км

Тип дорожного налога: G (£185 в год)

Габариты: 3915 мм x 1735 мм x 1230 мм

Дата поступления в продажу: уже в продаже


Июнь 2016

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Automatic – Review – Car and Driver

December 2015 By KEVIN A. WILSON Photos By MICHAEL SIMARI View 41 Photos

The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata stirs the road poets among us to romantic motoring visions: traffic-free dawns on challenging canyon two-lanes; adrenaline-soaked track-day afternoons; the after-dinner getaway with your one-and-only. That’s the stuff that put the fourth generation of Mazda’s little road star back on our 10Best Cars list. It inspires drivers to get out there, carpe every damned diem, and double-clutch down on the experience.

Mazda also sells MX-5s to people who feel the need for speed only when racing from the coffee shop to the conference room. Many of us live where most of the corners measure 90 degrees, the land is flat, and the traffic flows like peanut butter through a funnel. These drivers harbor the same fantasies of dancing on pavement as we all do—they like sharp steering, enjoy nimble handling, and want to feel at-one with their rides, but they also want to get to work without a stiff left leg.

Which is a longer way to say that some Miata buyers order an automatic transmission. A lot more of them today than was the case for the first-generation car in the 1990s, certainly, when the four-speed slushbox accounted for probably less than 10 percent of Miata sales. That thing was such a drag that putting one in a Miata seemed pointless. Hearing that someone had an automatic Miata made us think, “Go buy a Corolla and embrace your dull, gray inner drone, already.”

We didn’t even bother track-testing an automatic Miata until 2006. That was when a new six-speed and paddle-shifter combination arrived and we found it was, well, not so horribly bad. By 2011, Mazda was reporting that manual transmissions still dominated, but more than a third of softtop Miatas (37 percent) and more than half of the retractable-hardtop cars (59 percent) were sold without a clutch pedal.

This year’s new, lighter, tighter, and righter Miata makes a strong argument for the enjoyment and involvement of the stick shift, for getting all the way into the game with both feet and both hands. But clearly we couldn’t wait 16 years to get around to testing the automatic when about half the cars have it.

Suitably, our automatic-transmission test car arrived in the priciest, plushest of MX-5 trim levels, the Grand Touring. We tested the manual Miata in Club spec, which brings performance-enhancing hardware like a shock-tower brace, a limited-slip differential, and a sportier suspension tune. The Grand Touring skips those, instead including heated seats, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, and navigation. So far, fine. It also adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, and adaptive lights with automated high-beam control. Choosing a GT moves the base price up to $30,885 and the automatic adds another $1205. (The automatic upcharge on the base Sport model is $1480, while on the Club it’s only $730.)

Objectively speaking, the automatic also costs a bit of performance: half a second to 60 mph and about the same in the quarter-mile. And brake-torque launches don’t work because the Skyactiv 2.0-liter four-cylinder doesn’t really make enough torque to bust the tires loose. Blame the transmission, sure, but another factor is that this GT carried a little more weight, tipping our scales at 2383 pounds. The Club we tested came in at 2309. Seventy-four pounds may not seem like much, but it can have an outsized effect on a lightweight two-seater like this.

While Mazda deserves our applause for the discipline of keeping the new car small and light, it seems this particular version leans back, relaxes, and loosens the disciplinary belt. Despite the additional weight—and the lack of the sport-oriented chassis hardware that comes on the Club model—this car cornered at the same 0.90 g and stopped in the same 158 feet from 70 mph. It felt, perhaps, a little less eager in its responses than the Club.

In subjective terms, the automatic didn’t hurt as badly as we’d feared. In Sport mode, the latest paddle-shift mechanism works just as we’d like, delivering crisp gearchanges and holding the ratio the driver chooses right on to the rev-limiting fuel shutoff. In normal automatic driving with the gear selector in D, there’s nothing to object to except the lack of engagement.

We’ve previously noted that the 2016 model’s engine is louder and a bit coarser sounding than last year’s, and we noticed the interior mirror on this automatic example vibrating at idle. Still, we’re talking about a 21st-century interpretation of the old roadster ideal, not a direct revival of it. Whereas a ’96 manual-transmission Miata was spinning 4200 rpm at 80 mph, this new one is doing only 2200 rpm at the same speed, which is much more comfortable for cruising. This is not a soul-sucking joyless automatic; still, we’d like to see what Mazda could do with, say, a dual-clutch autobox in this car. As it is, the conventional automatic made stop-and-go traffic jams painless without seriously impeding the fun when we got a chance to avoid the crowds.

Overview Photos Build and Price View All Features and Specs

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door convertible

PRICE AS TESTED: $32,090 (base price: $27,215)

ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-capable inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection

Displacement: 122 cu in, 1998 ccPower: 155 hp @ 6000 rpmTorque: 148 lb-ft @ 4600 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode

DIMENSIONS:Wheelbase: 90.9 inLength: 154.1 inWidth: 68.3 in Height: 48.8 inPassenger volume: 49 cu ftCargo volume: 5 cu ftCurb weight: 2383 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS: Zero to 60 mph: 6.4 sec Zero to 100 mph: 18.1 sec Zero to 120 mph: 32.6 sec Rolling start, 5-60 mph: 6.7 sec Top gear, 30-50 mph: 3.4 sec Top gear, 50-70 mph: 4.5 sec Standing ¼-mile: 15.1 sec @ 93 mph

Top speed (C/D est): 130 mph

Braking, 70-0 mph: 158 ft Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.90 g

FUEL ECONOMY: EPA city/highway driving: 27/36 mpg

C/D observed: 28 mpg

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long-term Road Test Update · May 2017 Winter is not its true metier. 2016 Mazda Miata MX-5 Global Cup Car: Now With More Officially Sanctioned Cup Series 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Sound System Detailed (Headrest Speakers Are Back!) How We’d Spec It: The Miata Fanboy’s 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata The Mazda Miata’s U.S. Engineering Chief on How to Make a Great Sports Car 2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata Sport Automatic Short Take Road Test · August 2006 Heresy need not slow you down too much. The Reign Song: 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring vs. 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata In 1990, an industry choked by fuel-economy regulations rediscovered driving fun. Two and a half decades later, we tour Seattle to reaffirm that the Miata remains the very definition of a roadster. Lightning Lap 2015: 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club At the top of the leader board when it comes to fun. 2016 10Best Cars: Mazda MX-5 Miata 10best Cars · November 2015 Think different, drive different. 360° Virtual-Reality Video: 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club at Lightning Lap 2015 2017 Fiat 124 Spider First Drive Review · June 2016 The Italian-badged Miata is the less frenetic one. 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth vs. 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Comparison Tests · August 2016 The fraternal twins face off.
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2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata vs 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata - News

The Who burst onto the scene in 1965 with their first studio album My Generation, changing the landscape of music forever.

Two successful albums later, the band had cemented their status as rock and roll icons. But The Who’s best work was yet to come. Their fourth studio album would be an absolute masterpiece; Tommy.

The MX-5 Miata is The Who of roadsters. It changed everything for small sports cars when first introduced in 1990. During its first three generations, the MX-5 Miata would inspire a swarm of imitators that have never quite lived up to the real thing. But like The Who, it appears the best was yet to come. For 2016 there is a new, fourth generation of the MX-5 Miata and it appears Mazda may have created the brand’s own Tommy-like masterpiece.

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Good, But Just How Good?

First impressions of the MX-5 Miata were positive when I got to drive it on some twisting mountain roads through California. But now the honeymoon period is over and it’s time to revisit the 2016 MX-5 Miata and see if it’s really as good as I initially thought.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Mazda MX-5 Review

Since the MX-5 Miata doesn’t currently have any real competitors, I was a bit perplexed on what to benchmark the new car against. The answer was staring back at me like an inquisitive one-month old baby. Why not put it up against a 2015, previous generation MX-5 Miata?

It Always Starts with Handling

Where else to start when discussing the MX-5 Miata other than its handling? It’s what’s made the car an icon for over 25 years now. Acting as if the car knows what I want it to do before I even realize it, the MX-5 has always been one of the easiest cars to drive fast. With the new generation, Mazda has amped up all the responses, as throttle, turn-in and braking all happen a little quicker now. The delay from human input to car response is minuscule.

The Miata has always been well-known for its soft ride. It continues to offer quite a bit of body roll, which may sound like a big no-no in a sports car, but because the MX-5 is so light, it can get away with it. In fact, a little bit of body roll can be fun, as it allows skilled drivers to really play with the weight transfer when ripping through corners.

A Diet Helps Lap Times

After a few laps around the test track, I was blown away by how much faster the 2016 MX-5 is than the 2015 model. Clocking in at a time of 1:26.53, the 2016 Miata was some three seconds faster than the 2015 MX-5 that could only muster a time of 1:29.50.

So what gives? The 2016 MX-5 Miata Club wears the exact same sized tires, similar sized brakes and upgraded Bilstein shocks as the 2015 MX-5 Grand Touring PRHT. Why the big discrepancy?

SEE ALSO: 2016 Mazda MX-5 Curb Weight in Perspective

Most of it comes down to weight. The 2016 MX-5 weighs 2,332 lbs, some 261 lbs lighter than the 2015 Grand Touring PRHT. But it’s more than that. The setup and balance of the new car is better suited to a track environment and the faster revving, more flexible engine makes better use of its power.

Compare Specs

vs Vehicle 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Advantage 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Engine 2.0 L Four-Cylinder - 2.0 L Four-Cylinder
Horsepower 155 HP 2015 167 HP
Torque 148 lb-ft. 2016 140 lb-ft.
Weight 2,332 lbs. 2016 2,593 lbs.
Legroom 43.1-inches - 43.1-inches
Cargo Space 4.6 cubic feet 2015 5.3 cubic feet
Fuel Economy (US) 27 MPG city, 34 MPG Hwy 2016 21 MPG City, 28 MPG Hwy
Fuel Economy (CDN) 8.8 L/100 km City, 6.9 L/100 km Hwy 2016 11.1 L/100 km City, 8.4 L/100 km Hwy
Lap Times 1:26.53 2016 1:29.50

Is the Thrill Gone?

So I know what you’re thinking. Sure, the new car is quicker on a track, but is the thrill gone? After all, it does have electric power assist steering now. Well, that is actually the weakest point of the 2016 MX-5 Miata. It’s not like the steering feel is bad, because it’s not. It’s just that the old car’s hydraulic assist steering was so damn good, it’s hard for the new car to replicate this feeling with electric assist.

Disregarding steering, everything else about the 2016 MX-5 is more engaging. Although it’s hard to think that it’s even possible, the shifter operation is smoother now and throttle response from the new 2.0-liter engine is crazy quick.

But It’s Slower Right?

One of the biggest misconceptions about the new MX-5 is that it’s slow. Reading the spec sheet and seeing it has a new engine making only 155 hp, I can see where that train of thinking comes from. The 2015 MX-5 made 167 hp, after all. But don’t be fooled, the 2016 is the fastest MX-5 in a straight line ever. Yes, even faster than the fabled turbocharged Mazdaspeed Miata.

To prove it, I raced the 2016 MX-5 against not one, but two 2015 models. Besides a Grand Touring PRHT, we also had a 2015 MX-5 Sport with the five-speed manual and soft top.

This was the lightest way to get a MX-5 in 2015. Tipping the scales at 2,480 lbs., it features a 14.85 lbs per horsepower power to weight ratio, which is better than the new car’s 15.05 lbs per horsepower ratio. But that stat didn’t matter. With an extra eight pound feet of torque and a far more responsive engine, the 2016 MX-5 pulled away from both of the older cars in repeated heads-up drag races.

E-Z Top

And while on the topic of soft tops, a nice bonus with the new MX-5 is how easy the top is to open and close. Every MX-5 Miata soft top has had the same basic roof closing format, which should allow for a single arm to close of the roof from the driver’s seat.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Best Mazda MX-5 Miata Models of All Time

As a former owner of a first generation MX-5, I can tell you this wasn’t the easiest thing to do. Even in the 2015 model, the roof requires some effort to close with one arm. In the 2016 car, it’s just so easy. Simply pop up the roof, grab it and slide it closed.

More Modern, Less Storage

Comfort, for better or worse, remains about the same in the new MX-5. Despite it losing over three inches in length this year, headroom and legroom remains the exact same as it did last year. Where space has been sacrificed is in the trunk, which goes from tiny to miniscule, as well as the removal of virtually all interior storage areas.

Of course, the interior is much more modern in the new car and there’s a whole whack of new technology not previously available in the MX-5 like blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and, yes, finally, not one but two USB ports.

The Verdict: 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata vs 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata

It appears that, yes, with the manufacturer’s fourth release, Mazda has quite possibly made the best MX-5 Miata to date. Those of you worried this may be the high water mark and it’s all downhill from here, remember, The Who’s next two albums were Who’s Next and Quadrophenia. If it continues down this path, the MX-5 Miata has a bright future ahead of it.

Discuss this story on our Mazda MX-5 Miata Forum

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