Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring is Pure Driving Joy

Bob Long
AutoWorld Radio

It’s hard to believe that the year 1989 was first year of the Mazda Miata. It has gone on to become the best-selling roadster of all time and on any given weekend there are more Mx-5 Miata’s being raced or auto crossed in events across North America than any other car.

Recently I had the opportunity to spend a whole week behind the wheel of the all new model which debuted for the 2016 model year. This car is all about fun. The all new Mazda MX-5 is a little smaller than its predecessor, weighs less and has a bit less power, yet it’s still as nimble, quick and fun as ever. Best of all, it has a newfound sense of refinement thanks to a modern interior inspired by the Mazda3, and an unprecedented focus on driver placement makes the new MX-5 comfortable even if you’re well over 6-feet tall.

Balance is the key to what makes the new Mazda MX-5 so wonderful to drive.. Since the original Mazda Miata, the MX-5 has never been a car for drag racing, or for maximum cornering loads, or any of the big-tire, big-engine shenanigans generally associated with Mustangs, Camaro’s or Challengers.

Instead, the new MX-5 carries on the tradition of offering enough power to be quick but not so much that the car’s a handful. The suspension is firm enough for spirited cornering, but not so harsh that it rattles your teeth. The steering is quick, and allows the driver to carve u corners with ease.

The new Mazda MX-5 roadster has a simple, straightforward and modern interior. It’s similar to the new Mazda3, with an upright infotainment screen on the dash, push-button start on some models, and a surprising amount of soft-touch materials, considering last year’s hard-plastic everything. Mazda says it literally designed the car around the driver, and the MX-5 offers excellent steering-wheel, pedal and shifter placement. Despite the small size, it’s surprisingly accommodating for tall drivers, with a tilt steering wheel, and a convertible top that affords good headroom. There’s even a usefully sized trunk..

Hands down in my opinion this is the best looking MX-5 Miata to date. The tiny headlights are LEDs, complemented by tail lights that look like miniaturized versions from the Jaguar F-Type. The profile keeps the classic long-hood/short-deck proportions.

All new MX-5 models come with LED headlights, push-button ignition, air conditioning, power windows and the easy to use manual cloth top. Cruise control is also standard, and the little steering wheel is packed with audio and cruise-control buttons. My Grand Touring test model also had leather upholstery and navigation. along with the excellent Mazda Connect infotainment system with its touch-screen display and multifunction knob, plus headrest speakers with Bose sound.

The only engine in the new Mazda MX-5 is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. It comes standard with an all-new 6-speed manual transmission, and even if you don’t know how to drive a stick, it’s worth learning just so you can enjoy this one.

The action is light, the shifts are short, and the clutch operation is simply the best. I love the clutch and the short throw gearbox combination.. There is no other manual gear box like it until you spend a lot more money. It reminds me of six figure Porsche gear boxes. Yes you can get an excellent 6 speed automatic but this one vehicle that I recommend highly with the manual.

The 2.0-liter inline-4 puts out 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 27 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. Despite its modest power the MX-5 does not feel slow in anyway.and for little over $31,000 loaded the MX-6 Miata is pure driving joy.

The Long Drive Rankings
Front Engine-RWD 6 speed Manual
Simple layout
Manual Transmission

Could use a tad more power

The Long Drive Rankings (1 Low 10 High)
Exterior Styling 9
Interior styling and quality 8
Handling 9
Braking 7
Fuel Economy 7
Stereo System 8
Performance 5
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 4
Navigation 8
Audio System 7

AutoWorld, Autoworld Radio, Bob Long, Convertibles, Mazda, MX-5 Miata, Sporty cars, The Long Drive,

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