New Car Reviews

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata – A Sunny Prescription for Michigan Chill

This only gets us more excited for the summer

Long-Term 2016 Mazda Miata Update: Spring 2016 Array Miles to date: 2,750

It felt good to be back in California. I had just stepped off the plane at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, and the rush of sun, palm trees, and rust-free 1980s cars were as welcoming as a warm blanket. Coming from icy Detroit, the cool vibes of a California weekend were all but intoxicating, and there was no better way to soak it in than with the Four Seasons 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club. Michigan winter has a way of getting you down, but that all dissipated as the promise of top-down cruising in a 70-degree paradise lifted me up.

2016 Mazda MX 5 Club 4S trunk

Especially in person, you notice just how tiny the Miata is. That realization quickly brings me back from my daydream; I didn’t pack light, carrying along a full-size rolling suitcase, stuffed backpack, and heavy coat. Luckily the canvas roof occupies a very modest share of real estate, and the relatively snug 4.6 cubic feet of cargo space was just enough enough to swallow my luggage perfectly.

I set out from Los Angeles toward San Diego, bound for a rented vacation house where I’d meet up with some family to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday. It was around 5 o’clock when I pointed the Miata down the 405 highway, by then still warm enough to justify keeping the top down.

2016 Mazda MX 5 Club 4S front three quarters 8

On the highway, the Miata was free of any nasty lane wandering that plagues so many light cars. The roadster was so placeable at highway speeds, even with the top down, I was able to easily carry on a handful of phone conversations with the windows rolled up. Even in direct sunlight, the infotainment screens and gauges were plainly visible. While my goal was to drive top-down for the entire journey, the air became a little too cold after sunset even with the windows up. Heated seats might have gone a long way to content me, but Mazda doesn’t offer them on any model beneath the top-spec Grand Touring trim. For now, it seems the bean counters in Japan see a difference between the customers who want creature comforts and the customers who want sport suspension and the option for BBS wheels and Brembo stoppers. Thankfully, the Miata roof is as simple as they come, with a one-handed manual operation that can go from sun to shade in seconds. With the roof up and the heater on, I arrived in San Diego to join my family without shivering.

2016 Mazda MX 5 Club 4S rear three quarters 2

Keen on enjoying California canyon roads, I escaped the city early the next morning. Cruising around Otay Lake, I got my fix in spades, greedily soaking up the gorgeous countryside as I listened to the pleasant hum of the Miata’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The Miata has long been one of our all-time favorites, so I was delighted to see that this ND model is lovable as ever. The steering was extremely communicative, with gobs of roadfeel and feedback, although the electrically assisted rack could use a little bit more weight. The upgraded Bilstein suspension exclusive to the Club model kept the car planted through tight corners, but the Miata still had a touch too much body roll for my tastes. Faced with sharp corners, the optional Brembo brakes were more than powerful enough to scrub speed quickly from the 2,300-pound roadster.

2016 Mazda MX 5 Club 4S front three quarters 7

Back in San Diego proper, the Miata played the role of city car with ease. It’s fantastically nimble and perfectly petite for deftly maneuvering through merciless and claustrophobic California traffic. I made it through the city in no time at all and arrived at the San Diego Yacht Club for the birthday party with sun-dappled smiles and wind-tousled hair, fresh from our romp in the mountains.

The return trip to Los Angeles was a somber one, as I knew my brief vacation with the Miata was coming to a close. After dropping off the keys at the office, all that was left to do was start counting the days until summer, when the 2016 Mazda Miata makes its eventual odyssey to Detroit.

Overview

  • Body style 2-door front-engine RWD convertible
  • Accommodation 2-passenger
  • Construction Steel unibody
  • Base price (with dest.) $29,420
  • As tested $32,820

Powertrain

  • Engine 16-valve DOHC turbocharged I-4
  • Displacement 2.0 liters (106 cu in)
  • Power 155 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque 148 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm
  • Transmission 6-spd manual
  • Drive rear-wheel
  • EPA Fuel Economy 27/34/30 (city/hwy/combined)

Chassis

  • Steering Electrically assisted
  • Lock-to-lock 2.7 turns
  • Turning circle 380.8 ft
  • Suspension, Front control arms, coil spring
  • Suspension, Rear multilink, coil springs
  • Brakes F/R Vented front discs, solid rear discs
  • Wheels 17-inch aluminum
  • Tires F/R Bridgestone Potenza S001
  • Tire size F/R 205/45R 17

Measurements

  • Headroom 37.4 in
  • Legroom 43.1 in
  • Shoulder room 52.2 in
  • Wheelbase 90.9 in
  • Track F/R 58.9/59.17 in
  • L x W x H 154.1 x 68.3 x 48,8 in
  • Cargo capacity 4.6 cu ft
  • Weight 2,332 lb
  • Weight dist. F/R 52/48 %
  • Fuel capacity 11.9 gal
  • Est. fuel range 404 miles
  • Fuel grade 91 octane (premium)

Equipment

  • standard equipment

    • Sport suspension with Bilstein shocks, shock tower brace
    • Limited-slip differential
    • LED headlights with LED daytime running lights
    • Manual air conditioning/climate control
    • Black cloth bucket seats with red stitching and manual adjustment
    • 3-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel
    • Leather-wrapped shift knob and parking brake handle
    • Mesh-board windblocker
    • Touchscreen infotainment with rotary knob control
    • Remote keyless entry
    • Bose 9-speaker audio system
    • Bluetooth phone and audio, AUX port, CD player, USB connectivity
    • 17-inch aluminum wheels
    • Cruise control
    • Pushbutton start

Options

  • options for this vehicle:

    • Brembo/BBS Package ($3,400)
    • Brembo front brakes with red calipers
    • 17-inch forged aluminum BBS wheels
    • Advanced keyless entry
    • Aero kit: side sill extensions and rear bumper skirt
    • Ceramic Metallic paint: $0
    • Appearance package for Club ($0)
    • Front air dam
    • Rear lip spoiler