2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long-Term Road Test: Introduction
November 24, 2014
What Did We Get?
Miata people call it the ND and they are very, very excited.
This 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata represents the fourth-generation Miata. That's where the "D" in "ND" comes from. When the first (NA) Mazda Miata was released in the late 1980s, the Miata was a revelation: a small, light, responsive, drop-top sports car that echoed the ethos of those fine British roadsters from the '60s. The only difference was that this car was affordable and offered Japanese-car build quality and reliability. It was an instant classic.
In the years that followed, the Miata got a little bigger, got a little more powerful, changed its name to MX-5 and even added a power-retractable hardtop. We can't say the Miata lost its way, but the focus shifted.
With the new 2016 MX-5 Miata, Mazda is as focused as ever. The new car is 200 pounds lighter than last year's; it's shorter, wider and lower; the power hardtop is gone; horsepower is...down. Bowing to social pressure, Mazda even added "Miata" back to the car's official name. At least for America.
What Options Does It Have?
The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata is available in three trims: Sport, Club and Grand Touring. Standard features across all models include a hand-operated cloth soft top with glass rear window, push-button start, air-conditioning, LED headlights, cruise control and Bluetooth. The top-of-the-line Grand Touring has adaptive headlights, automatic wipers, heated sideview mirrors, leather seats, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning. We didn't get the Grand Touring.
For us, the only option was the midgrade Club. When equipped with a manual transmission (which we ordered), the Club gets a sportier suspension with Bilstein shocks, shock-tower brace, a limited-slip differential, 17-inch wheels with summer tires and a host of visual improvements. Don't think this is a stripped-out racer, as the Club has an upgraded nine-speaker stereo, dual USB ports and a 7-inch touchscreen. While the 2016 MX-5 Miata starts at $25,735, our Club carries a base price of $29,215.
There are very few options available for the MX-5 Miata, and we got even fewer. The Soul Red paint added $300 and the advanced keyless entry tacked on another $130. Final price: $29,850.
All 2016 MX-5 Miatas come with a 155-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and either a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic transmission. The Miata is rear-wheel drive. Only. Thankfully.
Why We Bought It/Why We Got It
There's an old adage that says the nail that sticks up gets hammered down. This new MX-5 bucked an industry-wide trend of bigger, more powerful and quieter by going back to the formula that put this plucky, little roadster on the map. Everyone loves the MX-5 Miata when the roads are open, windy and reasonably level. What happens the rest of the time?
Over the next 12 months, we'll put 20,000 miles on our new long-term MX-5 Miata and they won't all be on canyon roads. Follow along on our Long-Term Road Test page to see if Mazda's gamble paid off, or if there really is a good reason that every other carmaker has abandoned this formula.
Best MPG: 28.5
Worst MPG: 25.4
Average MPG over 468 miles: 26.8
The manufacturer provided this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.