2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Starting MSRP: $24,915 - $30,065

Estimated MPG: 27 city / 34 hwy

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review

Smaller, lighter and more agile than ever, the redesigned 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata continues to offer a thrilling driving experience at an affordable price.

By Jim Sharifi
Last Updated 05/03/2016

Now entering its fourth generation, the Mazda Miata is fully redesigned for the 2016 model year. The new MX-5 stays true to form and continues to build on the principles that have made it such a success for Mazda. A new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is standard, which is paired with a six-speed manual transmission or an available six-speed automatic. The 2016 Miata is only available as a soft-top convertible, which comes in Sport, Club and Grand Touring trims.

Exterior

Exterior
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The 2016 Miata now carries the "Kodo – Soul of Motion" design elements that are seen in a number of Mazda's current products, including cars like the Mazda3 and Mazda6, as well as crossovers like the Mazda CX-3. These styling cues include a long hood, minimal front and rear overhangs and wheels that are pushed far out toward each of the Miata's four corners. The result is a great looking roadster that's instantly identifiable as a Mazda product. The base Miata Sport features exterior details that include a fabric soft top and 16-inch wheels, as well as LED daytime running lights and LED headlights and taillights.

Higher trims bring in 17-inch wheels, a spoiler and more aggressive front fascia, and body-colored side mirrors.

Interior

Interior
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The first thing that struck me about the 2016 Miata's cabin is just how comfortable it is. At 6-foot-1, I expected the cabin to feel cramped. However, I was pleased with the Miata's near-perfect driving position. This is a car that fits like a glove, with great ergonomics and a driver's seat that is well-bolstered and exceptionally comfortable.

Things change a little bit if you slide over to the passenger seat, however. Shorter occupants probably won't complain, but even with the seat pushed all the way back my knees were in constant contact with the dash.

The new Miata features a thoroughly modern interior design and materials that look and feel upscale for the class. While the outgoing model was available with a retractable hardtop, the 2016 Miata is only offered with a soft top. It's very easy to raise and lower while sitting in the driver's seat, requiring just a flip of the wrist to unlatch before you push it back to lock firmly into place. With the top up, the Club model I tested lets a fair amount of wind and road noise in at highway speeds. Consider the Grand Touring trim for a quieter ride, which adds a cloth lining to the convertible top.

All Miatas seat two and offer 4.6 cubic feet of trunk space. Leather upholstery, heated seats and automatic climate control come standard on the top Grand Touring trim.

Performance

Performance
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The 2016 Mazda Miata comes with a new, Skyactiv 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. Power is routed to the rear wheels through a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic. The EPA reports that the 2016 Miata gets 27/34 mpg city/highway with the six-speed manual or 27/36 mpg with the automatic.

Club models with the manual transmission feature a few performance enhancements, including a limited-slip differential, Bilstein shocks and a strut tower brace.

The Club trim is also available with a Brembo/BBS package that adds lightweight BBS wheels and Brembo front brakes.

A quick look at the specs shows that the new Miata offers 12 horsepower less than the 2015 model. Redesigns seldom result in a car with less power, but the 2016 Miata has lost about 150 pounds, and that weight loss contributes to a platform that is smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient.

Our Club model featured the manual transmission and the Brembo/BBS package. It's almost a cliché to talk about what a well-balanced sports car the Miata is, but Mazda has really put together a package that offers a great deal of fun with the 2016 model. There's a little bit of body roll through turns, but the Miata's quick steering and small size make it a fun and willing companion on twisty mountain roads.

The new Skyactiv four-cylinder engine never overwhelms, but accelerates willingly while the six-speed manual makes it easy to make the most of the engine's power. Smooth clutch action and short throws make the Miata a joy to shift, and the new engine is positioned lower and farther back in order to provide more athletic handling and a lower center of gravity.

Technology

Technology
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The outgoing Miata had been with us since the 2006 model year, and was a little behind the curve when it came to technology as a result. Those shortcomings have been addressed with the new 2016 model, and the Miata now offers a competitive list of standard and available features.

The base Miata Sport comes with push-button start, Bluetooth, a USB port and a six-speaker stereo. Higher trims add a Bose audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, smartphone app integration and a voice-activated infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen. 

Navigation is standard on the Grand Touring model, but can also be added to the Club trim as a $350 dealer-installed option.

Safety

Safety
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The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata has not been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, a suite of air bags and electronic stability control. A rearview camera and forward collision warning are not offered, but the Grand Touring trim adds driver assistance features like blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The Mazda Miata has a lower starting price that just about every convertible sports car on the market. The base 2016 Miata Sport starts at $24,915, which is less than what you'd pay for the base Mini Roadster, or sport coupes like the Scion FR-S or Subaru BRZ. Miata Club and Grand Touring trims start at $28,600 and $30,065, respectively.

The midlevel Club trim comes with additional performance and tech features that may make it the most appealing choice in the lineup. 

Many buyers may decide to forgo the $3,400 Brembo/BBS package, but a Miata Club that's nicely equipped with navigation and proximity key should ring in at just under $30,000.

Overall

Overall
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Mazda has set the bar high if you're looking for a sporty, two-seat roadster that starts at less than $25,000. The new Miata continues to excel with great driving dynamics and an affordable price. While the 2016 Miata offers many of the tech features that the previous generation was lacking, it still stays true to the simple requirements that made it great when the Miata launched more than 25 years ago, including its light weight, small size and capable handling.