12.06.2015

Mixed Emotions: The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata
The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata.
Never before have I been so conflicted in writing a review.  Regular TireKicker readers know the Mazda MX-5 Miata has long been one of our favorite cars and has occupied a place in the TireKicker's Best Cars list on the right of this page since we began that list more than five years ago. I've eagerly awaited this new generation.  And now that I've driven it...




Rear view of 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata
2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata.
Well, let's start with the facts.  Mazda set out to make the MX-5 less cute (there are some, including my own son, who still believe a Miata is a "chick car") and more aggressive in its appearance. Mission accomplished.  The goal was to reduce mass and weight and the new car is smaller (very nearly back to the size of the original Miata 25 years ago) and weighs more than 200 pounds less.

That lost weight allows Mazda to reduce power. The 2.0-liter in the new generation makes 155 horsepower compared to the 167 in the 2014 MX-5 Miata Club we reviewed almost two years ago, but the car feels and is noticeably quicker. It's also considerably more fuel-efficient, turning 21 MPG in the city into 27 and 28 on the highway into 34. That's tremendous.

The smaller dimensions and reduced weight also allow for even sharper handling.  Remarkable, since the previous-gen MX-5 Miata was the most fun, sharpest handling vehicle this side of a motorcycle.

And the base price of $28,600 for the Club model, the most performance-oriented of the three trim levels (Sport, Club and Grand Touring), is not only a screaming deal for what you get, but it is not much of an increase over last year's pricing.  Ours had the Brembo brake package for an additional $3,400, which is highly recommended.  With $820 destination and handling charges, the car rang in at $32,820.

Interior view of 2016 Mazda MX-5
2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata interior.
And inside, there's been some serious magic worked, with up-to-date styling, improved materials, and the advent of Bluetooth and nav, both of which were simply unavailable in the previous-gen car. You can leave the aux cable and paper map behind.

But it's inside where my problems lay.  And maybe they're just that...my problems.  The new car has more legroom, but a wider console eats into hip room.  If I were 20 years younger and 20 pounds lighter, I probably wouldn't have even noticed.  The glovebox is gone.  So is a center console box that when you opened it, revealed cupholders.  Those cupholders are now hang-on afterthoughts, the default position for which is at the back of the cockpit, below the lockable console built into the rear bulkhead. From the photo above, it appears they can be repositioned, but no one at Mazda told us that.  Regardless, they're small and flimsy and remind me of the cupholders in a 90s Porsche Boxster...the ones that hung from the air conditioning vents.  The Club model has the least sound deadening...it's noisy.  And the bias toward performance has resulted in a harsher ride than in the '14 Club we tested

All these things may seem like minor issues...and they are, when stacked up against the performance, handling, value and just sheer fun of the new MX-5 Miata.  I still want to drive it with the top down on a twisty road and smile all afternoon long.  I just don't know if I'd enjoy it as much as a daily driver as the last car.  Time...and repeated exposure to the new car...possibly in the more refined Grand Touring trim...will tell.


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