2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Quick Take

2016 Mazda Miata MX-5 Quick Take

Note: I’m going to have some more car-oriented content coming up soon since the blog on” cars that car dealers drive” got some decent feedback, but I wanted to just fire off a quick take on the 2016 MX-5 I drove today.

My first two cars were 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTIs. I loved those cars in part because, as a kid who could barely afford to put them on the road, I wasn’t really in a position to have the high insurance and fines that came with owning, say, an IROC. The GTI was fun to drive, legally, under 55 (at the time that was the top speed limit, period). Or suppose you’re a Dungeons and Dragons character with Lawful Neutral alignment; you want to have fun, but not in a disorderly, anti-social way. You loved the GTI.

You will also love the latest gen Miata. Up to 55 MPH, there’s nothing on the road that cleans the MX-5’s clock, certainly not under $100 grand. The car I drove today had a 6-speed manual and the Club trim package, the main option there being the better Brembo brakes. The cost was just a hair over $32,000. Mazda has gone to considerable lengths to cut weight on this new edition of the Miata roadster and it really shows. [For another review that goes into detail on each specific part they put on a diet, check out Engineering Explained https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wh-BldfPuXo].

You feel this car’s lightness at all times, for better or worse, depending on your automotive preferences. It’s extremely easy to throw around in tight corners and you still feel in complete control when you swing the back end out or steeri with the throttle out of a turn. It also gets buffeted a bit when you pick up the draft of an 18-wheeler in the interstate. Not in a way that would scare you, again, but in a manner that makes you alert and aware of what the car is doing. You don’t lose focus in this car; it just doesn’t let you, especially with the stick shift (which, it seems is the only acceptable way to buy this car), which is on a short list of the best on the market in terms of short, solid feeling throws.

This is neither a powerful car nor a sluggish one. It’s in something of a Goldilocks zone if you are, again, not intending to drag race people in it, or, perhaps more likely, you aren’t someone with a pro driver skill set but you want to drive your daily or weekend car to it’s limits. It’s 155 horsepower, 148 lb./ft. torque engine will do 0-60 in around six seconds, given the launch and what tires you’ve got on it. That’s good but not outstanding in today’s new car field, but it doesn’t lack for responsiveness if you are in the upper revs due to the low weight ratio. You can’t lollygag around at 3000 rpm and floor it in any gear, you have to be working this little car to get it to perform, but why else would you buy this thing? That’s exactly why it is so fun to drive.

The fit and finish on the MX-5 is solid. It has some of the rattle and sound of a light car, but to be fair, so does the Alfa Romeo 4C. Nothing in the interior feels stupid or cheap, though, something that can’t be said even of some Mercedes these days. I’m not in love with the touch screen controls on a car like this since I’d prefer not to have a distracting, iPad-sized screen taking up space in such a simply-purposed car; but that’s to be expected as a consumer concession where everyone wants to Bluetooth their phones to every car. The gauges are simple, mostly analog devices of roadster pedigree and the large tach helps you keep right up at the redline. The speedometer is a bit less easy to quick take on, but you get the feel for what this car is doing by the road noise so fast, it’s not something you’re always checking on.

I like the looks of the new update; it’s probably the most handsome Miata since the original NA. It’s not a car that will disappoint your first date whoever he or she might be (damnit, I thought I’d go the whole review without mentioning the Miata IS popular with the gay male demographic, but it is what it is—gay men have good taste). Still, it’s not a car that kids are going to whip out their Galaxy Notes to shoot as you park it. You buy a Miata to drive it hard and grin ear-to-ear everyday with, not to show your status to the rest of your peers. Your pastor can buy one of these and not get notes from the congregation about how showy and expensive his car is.

If you’re spending under $50,000 for a new car and you don’t need more than two seats, be sure you put the Miata on your list of test drives.

Many thanks to the kind folk at O'Daniel Mazda in Fort Wayne for the review car.