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2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/4/2017

Con: Cabin gets fairly loud at highway speeds with the top up; not much room inside for driver and passenger; limited cargo space inside the tiny trunk; noticeable amount of body roll during aggressive cornering diminishes the car's precision feel.

Interior: True to form, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata's interior is snug, with limited head- and legroom for 6-footers. Getting in and out isn't particularly difficult, however, and the seats are remarkably comfortable, aided by a nifty mesh-suspension design that forgoes traditional seat springs to save weight. Materials quality has improved significantly for this generation, particularly in the Club and Grand Touring trims, which enjoy upgraded trim panels on the doors, dashboard and console. Sport buyers get more basic surfaces, but the cabin is still quite nice for the price.

The MX-5's controls are logically arrayed around the driver, and we're pleased to report that USB connectivity and Bluetooth (both phone and audio) now come standard, even on the base Sport trim. The other trims boast an excellent touchscreen interface with intuitive menus and crisp color graphics; it's let down only by an otherwise useful redundant control knob on the console that can get in the way if you're shifting your own gears.

The Miata's new infotainment interface consists of a dash-mounted touchscreen and a knob-based controller near the gear shifter.

The manual convertible top is exceptionally easy to use. Practiced operators will be able to flip it open in one easy over-the-shoulder motion without leaving the driver seat, and raising it doesn't require much additional effort. The trunk is rather pathetic, though, measuring just 4.6 cubic feet. That's small even by roadster standards. For context, the typical family sedan's cargo hold is about three times the size.

Body: The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a two-seat roadster offered in three trim levels: Sport, Club and Grand Touring.

Standard features for the Sport trim include 16-inch alloy wheels, a manually retractable black soft top with a glass rear window, LED headlights and taillights, air-conditioning, push-button ignition, a height-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power accessories, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.

The Club trim comes with different equipment depending on the chosen transmission. With the manual shifter, it includes a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, a shock-tower brace, a limited-slip differential and an engine sound enhancer, but opting for the automatic negates these features. All Club models get 17-inch wheels with summer performance tires, a sport front fascia, a rear lip spoiler, piano-black mirror covers and roll hoops, red interior stitching, upgraded interior trim panels, a 9-speaker Bose audio system (with headrest speakers, satellite radio, HD radio, Aha/Pandora/Stitcher Internet radio and dual USB ports), voice controls and a 7-inch touchscreen interface with an auxiliary control knob mounted on the center console.

The MX-5's cabin is remarkably well-appointed given the car's price tag.

The Grand Touring loses the manual-transmission Club's performance upgrades (except the sound enhancer, which remains a manual-only feature), but it gets adaptive headlights with automatic high-beam control, auto-dimming mirrors with exterior heating, body-color mirror covers, automatic wipers, a cloth-lined top, leather upholstery, heated seats, automatic climate control, a navigation system and a safety-oriented bundle that includes a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning.

Note that the optional automatic transmission comes bundled with keyless ignition and entry, which is a separate option across the lineup on manual-transmission models.

There's but a single factory options package for the 2016 Miata. The Brembo/BBS package is only offered on manual-transmission Club models, and it includes 17-inch forged BBS wheels, Brembo front brakes, an aero body kit and keyless ignition and entry.

Driving: On the road, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata's dynamic qualities should appeal to a wide range of drivers. On the one hand, the Miata's superb outward visibility and compliant suspension make it eminently docile and approachable. On the other hand, its balanced rear-wheel-drive layout, precise steering and available limited-slip differential mean it's ready for weekend track duty in the right hands. The pronounced body roll in aggressive cornering is unusual in a sports car, and some enthusiasts may find it excessive. But Mazda intentionally tunes the Miata that way to enhance driver engagement, and there's no doubt that this is a very engaging car when you're at the controls.

For the money, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 is one of the most entertaining cars you can buy.

The 2.0-liter four-cylinder is slightly down on power relative to the previous generation, but it has less weight to push around, so the result is quicker acceleration. It's plenty quick for around-town driving, and the bolt-action manual gearbox makes it a true pleasure to extract every last ounce of performance. Just watch out for road and wind noise on prolonged highway drives; if you leave the top up, your ears might be ringing by the end. This is hardly new for the Miata, though. Just put the top down and enjoy the true roadster experience.

What’s New: The 2016 MX-5 Miata is an all-new model.

The rear-wheel-drive 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata is motivated by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 155 hp and 148 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, with a six-speed automatic (including steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles) optional on all trims.

In Edmunds testing, a 2016 MX-5 Miata Club with the manual transmission zipped from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, a half-second quicker than the previous-generation car.

EPA-estimated fuel economy is 30 mpg combined (27 city/34 highway) with the manual transmission, rising slightly to 30 mpg combined (27/36) with the automatic. On the Edmunds real-world driving loop, comprising a diverse mix of roads with an overall highway bias, our manual-transmission test car recorded an impressive 35.1-mpg average.

Safety: Standard safety features on the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata include antilock disc brakes, side airbags and stability and traction control. As noted, the Grand Touring adds a few exclusive safety features, including a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning.

In Edmunds braking tests, a Miata Club with the Brembo/BBS package stopped from 60 mph in 111 feet, a respectable distance that's nonetheless a few feet longer than we expect of a sporty car with summer tires.

Pro: Extremely fun to drive around turns, even at low speeds; available manual transmission is satisfying to shift; manual soft top is easy to lower in no time at all; prices are very reasonable, whether it's a base MX-5 or fully loaded.

Edmunds Say: Want to have fun-in-the-sun thrills without spending a ton of money? If so, we think the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata is right up your alley. This little roadster is all about planting smiles on faces without having to take a second mortgage on your house to pay for it. Read on to see why it is one of our favorite affordable sports cars.

Introduction: The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata starts a new chapter for Mazda's iconic roadster, and it does so in a most unusual fashion. Typically, a fully redesigned model packs on some extra weight due to added complexity, but this Miata has actually dropped about 200 pounds relative to its predecessor. Despite the diet, the latest MX-5 boasts a modernized equipment roster, including an available infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen. Mazda appears to have achieved the impossible, having built a new Miata that's at once more elemental and more advanced than the previous-generation car.

Mazda put the MX-5 on a diet for 2016. The resulting roadster is about 200 pounds lighter than the old model.

It's not just hype, either, as the Miata is as good as advertised. Like every MX-5 before it, the 2016 model is best when the road turns twisty. It zips around turns with an enthusiasm few other cars can match, while the efficient four-cylinder engine makes enough power and sound to keep the good times rolling. The new Miata is still at its best with the manual transmission, but an automatic is available, of course, as is an unprecedented selection of creature comforts and safety technologies. Add it all up and you get a uniquely appealing two-seater that should appeal to sports car purists and digital-age denizens alike.

Naturally, certain compromises are required when you drive a Miata. Trunk capacity is minimal, and there's not much space to spare in the intimate cabin either, whether for passengers or personal items. There's also ample road and wind noise at speed with the top up. And if you wind the engine up past 6,000 rpm, you might notice that it gets a little rough.

But if you're looking for an affordable two-seat convertible that's stylish and fun to drive, the Edmunds "A"-rated Miata is practically the only game in town. The sole direct rival in this price range is the Mini Cooper convertible, a front-wheel-drive model that dangles the carrot of saucy turbocharged power and British charm. If you're willing to spend a bit more, the 2016 Nissan 370Z Roadster comes in guns blazing with its 330-horsepower V6. But if you want the most authentic roadster experience for the money, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata is an easy choice.

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