What Is It?
The 2016 Mazda MX-5 is a two-passenger roadster with a big personality that emphasizes driving fun over pure efficiency. Usually referred to as the Miata, this year's model has been fully redesigned from top to bottom.
What's New About This Model?
The fourth generation of the MX-5 is wider, lower and lighter than the current car. Key design cues include a low hood, blacked-out A-pillars and mirrors and exterior LED lights.
This version of the MX-5 is 220 pounds lighter than the car's current weight of around 2,500, which should result in improved fuel economy. A 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine will power this Miata, but Mazda hasn't released any official output numbers yet.
The interior looks more upscale than ever before, with a high-quality feel and thoughtful touches, including the latest technology and USB inputs.
When Does It Go on Sale?
Mazda said it expects to have the 2016 MX-5 in dealer showrooms by June of 2015.
How Much Does It Cost?
Pricing has not been announced, but it is not expected to be much more expensive than the current MX-5, which starts at $24,765.
How Many Body Styles and Trim Levels Are There?
Just one: a soft-top roadster. The power-retractable hardtop model has been discontinued for the fourth-generation MX-5.
What Kinds of Engines and Transmissions Does It Have?
Mazda said earlier that the 2016 MX-5 will be equipped with a standard 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G direct-injection four-cylinder engine in the U.S. The engine is linked to a standard six-speed manual transmission. Other markets will get a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine.
Engine specifications will be announced later. Mazda has not offered a fuel economy estimate on the 2016 model, although the weight reduction is expected to result in better fuel economy. The 2015 MX-5 with a six-speed manual transmission returns 21 mpg in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA.
What Unique Feature Does It Offer?
Mazda is still keeping mum about most of the MX-5's specifics, including options and safety equipment. But the unique appeal of the MX-5 centers on intangibles, including the emotional aspect of driving a fun car without the penalty of a large monthly payment or an equally large insurance bill. Mazda wisely retained the classic roadster appeal of the MX-5 with the redesign, but added a modern twist combined with state-of-the-art technology.
What Models Will It Compete Against?
BMW Z4: With the MX-5 redesign, Mazda aspires to compete against the entry-level version of the Z4 with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. But the potent Z4 is nearly double the price of the current Miata, so the two cars still may be targeting vastly different audiences.
Mini Cooper Roadster: Like the MX-5, the Mini Cooper Roadster convertible offers zippy handling, unique styling and a satisfying driving experience. The sole drawback is the lack of rear-wheel drive. But for Mini lovers, this may still be the best bet for top-down motoring.
Subaru BRZ: There's no convertible version, but this may be an excellent choice for anyone who wants a small, inexpensive, rear-drive sports car. Like the MX-5, the BRZ is incredibly responsive, easy to drive and affordable.
Should You Wait for It?
It's coming down to just a matter of months before the highly anticipated MX-5 arrives in dealer showrooms. If it's an urgent matter to feel the wind in your hair, you can't go wrong with the current MX-5. Other buyers may want to wait for the lighter-weight version that promises to deliver an even more exhilarating driving experience.