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2016 Mazda Miata MX-5

Because It's Always Summer Somewhere
2016 Mazda Miata MX-5

Yes, the accompanying photo is from the actual test drive last week. December in WNY isn’t usually top-down weather, but when you’re in a cabin as cozy as the new Miata’s, and the top is within arm’s reach of putting up or down with one hand while never leaving the driver’s seat, and—and this is a big and—you have side windows and a working heater, of course you put the top down.

Leaving Towne Mazda in Orchard Park, where Chuck Fafara had my Jet Black Miata MX-5 Club sitting right out front waiting for my arrival on this overcast 41 degree morning, I knew right where I was headed: Chestnut Ridge Park, because I knew there I wouldn’t be driving fast enough to freeze my kiester off.

The newest Miata is Mazda’s fourth generation of the two-seat sports car. First unveiled in 1989, Mazda has since sold almost a million of them, due in part to the simplicity of the design, as well as the car’s fun factor and relatively affordable price tag.

The 2016 Miata is powered by a 2.0L four-cylinder DOHC engine which is rated at 155 hp. Seeing that the car only weighs about a ton (plus one Bills’ linebacker), 155 hp is more than enough. A six-speed transmission, either manual (like the test car) or automatic, sends power to the Miata’s rear wheels, and this powertrain combination helps maintain a perfect 50/50 front/rear weight balance which makes the Miata a superb-handling car. This holds true whether driving 65 on the interstate, or 15 in Chestnut Ridge Park. The EPA ratings of 27/34 mpg (27/36 for the automatic) only help you smile wider while you downshift and toot the horn as you pass gas station after gas station.

As the six-feet of me stood next to the car (with the top still up) I pondered just how difficult it was going to be to climb in. Luckily, the door is wide enough to give tall drivers the room they need to easily slide in. Getting out? Eh, not quite as easy, but that may be due in part to my advanced age (Lol). As you can imagine, nothing is very far out of reach, including the latch for the soft top, which unlocks easily with one hand. You then grab the handle and throw the top over your shoulder, where it comes to rest with a satisfying click. No bothersome snapping-on of a “boot”, as the top has a built-in cover which gives it a finished look. Raising it is just as simple with a reach over your shoulder to unlock it and bring it back up. I think the raised top is well-integrated into the car’s design, but it does cause a troublesome blind spot over the driver’s left shoulder when in the up position. Luckily, for buyers of the top-of-the-line Grand Touring model (starting at $30,065), a lane departure/ blind spot monitoring system comes standard.

The Miata’s styling has certainly evolved over the years. The first ones were probably best described as being “cute,” with their rounded haunches and pop-up headlights. Each restyling has made the car look like a more serious sports car, with the latest effort producing a downright sexy sports machine. My test car, in Jet Black with a black interior and black 17-inch alloy wheels, looked serious indeed. The optional Brembo/BBS package, which included the BBS alloy rims and Brembo front calipers (painted a bright red) and rotors, broke up the black a bit. Just a bit, but it really added to the car’s looks (not to mention its stopping power).

The Club edition adds such niceties as high performance tires, LED daytime running lights, front air dam and rear spoiler, red stitching on the seats, and for the manual transmission models—a front shock tower brace and sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers and limited-slip differential. Club pricing starts at $28,600. With the Brembo/BBS package & wheel locks, the test car stickered at $32,875 with the delivery fee.

If you’re more the thrifty type, and can do without a few bells and whistles, the base Miata Sport starts at a mere $24,915 with a stick shift. Still looks sexy, still is fun.

In all kinds of weather.

More info at:

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