2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Which Version Should You Get?
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on June 29, 2016
Let's just assume that you've been reading our 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata updates the past few months and have decided to pull the trigger on a new Miata. Congrats! But the next thing you're going to have to decide on is a trim level. Do you pick the Sport, the Club or the Grand Touring?
Thankfully, Edmunds.com pays me to help you out on such things.
Let's start out with what you get on those three trim levels that Mazda offers for the 2016 Miata. The highlights, as far as I'm concerned, break down like this: the Sport, with a $24,915 MSRP (with the manual transmission, not including destination), comes with the basics. The mid-grade Club ($28,600) upgrades the Miata with some performance enhancements (special suspension dampers and a limited-slip rear differential, but both on manual-transmission-equipped cars only), 17-inch wheels with summer tires and an upgraded sound system with the 7-inch touchscreen interface. Then there's the Grand Touring ($30,065) with leather upholstery, adaptive headlights, heated seats, automatic climate control, navigation and some extra safety features.
My knee-jerk thought on what to get before I really dove into this topic would have been: "Get the Club!" The point of a Miata is to have fun. Therefore, extra performance mods equal more fun. Right? Well, maybe. Our test car is a Club. But remember that you're only getting those mods with the manual transmission. If you pick the automatic, you're left with just the summer tires and touchscreen (yes, there are other Club-based upgrades, but again I'm only covering the big stuff here). That $3,000 to $4,000 step up for the Club isn't to be taken lightly.
Also: I stumbled across an interior picture of a Miata Sport recently and noticed the base stereo setup. It's just a simple dash display with a volume knob and radio preset buttons. Since the touchscreen interface is ergonomically challenged in the Miata, I actually view the Sport's setup as superior despite the reduced functionality. What about the upgraded stereo? I can't imagine missing it much since the Miata's plenty noisy on the highway already.
Going back to the Club's manual-only performance upgrades: the limited-slip diff isn't something you're going to benefit from every day, and some people might actually prefer the ride quality of the standard suspension. There is a Brembo brake/BBS wheel upgrade package that's an exclusive option for manual-equipped Clubs. But it's an additional $3,400, and our testing of a Miata with this package didn't reveal a significant braking performance difference during panic stops.
OK, so what about the Grand Touring? It's possible that the GT's leather-trimmed seats are a little more comfortable (I haven't sat in one, so I can't say for sure). Having the safety features might be nice, but I'd argue that the Miata is easy enough to see out of (especially with the top down) that you don't need blind-spot monitoring. I'm guessing the typical Miata driver is also attentive enough not to need lane departure warning, either. Automatic climate control? The base setup works fine. Adaptive headlights? You're already getting LED headlights with the Sport, so this isn't a big upgrade.
Another interesting point of discussion might be the upcoming 2017 Miata RF ("Retractable Fastback") and the Miata's Italian doppelganger, the 2017 Fiat 124. But for this update, I'll stick to 2016. And for that, I'd recommend the Sport. Keep it simple and keep it affordable, friend.
As a wise staffer who used to work here used to conclude, "tell me why I'm wrong."
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 10,574 miles