2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Excellent Steering Wheel
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on May 30, 2016
A bad steering wheel can ruin a car for me. It's the input device you interact most with in a car. Steering wheels vary wildly from car to car, and every car calls for a certain type. If the wheel doesn't feel right, it can bring down what is otherwise a great vehicle.
That's not the case for our long-term 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata. In fact, it might be my favorite steering wheel in the entire test fleet.
Some steering wheels, like the one in our long-term 2007 Dodge Charger SRT8, feel way too big. Dodge apparently agreed and has equipped current Chargers with a much better wheel, even in non-SRT trims. The large wheel in the Charger makes you feel like you're steering a boat. A smaller, better wrapped wheel would help mask its heft.
In contrast, the steering wheel in our Miata is fantastic. The shape, the size and the feel all seem to fit this car perfectly. It's thin, but not old-school thin like our long-term 1966 Chevrolet Corvette. It's not too thick either. This isn't the Viper, which has a big, meaty, non-telescoping wheel. That one fits the Viper since every input requires a deliberate and heavy hand.
The Miata is small and light and the steering wheel feels much the same. It makes the car easy to control, and encourages both subtle and quick inputs. The steering wheel looks and feels great, especially with the contrasting red stitching. The buttons aren't the best, but they aren't horrible either. The spokes are placed perfectly for viewing the instrument cluster. Mazda obviously took the time to make this all work in harmony.
My biggest complaint is that, like the Viper, the Miata's steering wheel doesn't telescope. I have long legs and sit farther back from the wheel than most people my height. Despite not telescoping, the wheel feels well placed.
Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 9,864 miles