2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata: More Fun Than a Frog in a Glass of Milk
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on July 8, 2016
Should you find yourself driving a 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata on a road that twists and turns like a politician avoiding an inconvenient question, you're going to have fun. Lots of fun. I guarantee it, just like the suit guy with the beard does, but without the "like the way you look" part.
Our long-term Miata weighs about 2,300 pounds. This is freakishly light weight for a modern car and the way the Miata drives because of it is something that you just don't get to experience very often.
Our Miata floats along the road effortlessly, a stone skipping across a still pond. It's not aggressively tuned. It doesn't hunker down, dig in or zealously change direction. When you dial in some steering, you just get a perfect response to what you want. It's like twisting a big knob on an old vacuum tube amplifier. It's analog driving, which is all the more impressive considering this latest Miata generation has electric-assist power steering.
The view through the Miata's small windshield isn't exactly panoramic, but the hood and front fender arches are right in view and then drop away to show the road ahead. As you approach a corner, you can press on the brake pedal to get exactly the right amount of slow-down you want. Then you're cutting around the corner, aiming for the apex. The Miata is narrow enough that you can actually make your own balanced entry-and-exit line across the pavement and still stay within the lines.
Come out of the turn and get back on the gas. There's little need to wind it out all the way up to redline unless you want to. Otherwise, you can happily work the 3,000 to 5,000 rpm range all day long. Brrrrrr ... snick! ... brrrrrr. I love being hard on the gas and quickly shifting from 3rd to 4th gear. The shifter's satisfyingly solid feel is best experienced with that shift, and there's still a nice enough lump of power to be exploited in that gear, too.
I don't feel much of a need to drive our Miata to the wee of its life on public roads. Maybe it's because I've reached middle age now, and I'm older, wiser (?) and slower. But the Miata is fun to drive spiritedly and still have some reserve. There are other cars that are fun to drive, too, but often it's only because you're veering into max-attack territory. In the Miata, the drive itself is the reward. And I'm guessing that if you really did push it to the handling limit constantly, the results would be less satisfying.
Your daily life is 95 percent humdrum stuff. Answering emails, getting chewed out by your boss, cleaning up after your cat that puked on the stairs. But out here, on this day, it's just you and your Miata. And that's pretty great.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 10,672 miles