By: Mr. Power
Twenty-six years ago Mazda had a plan to build the ultimate convertible roadster. They promised two things about it; it would deliver superb handling and plaster a permanent smile across your face. Now in its fourth generation, and with over a million sold, the Mazda MX-5 still reins king as the best roadster money can buy.
Stepping into the new 2016 model you are engulfed by a sporty, yet luxurious interior. Soul Red trim accentuates the top of the door and the shifter falls perfectly into your hand, making it quite evident that this is a driving enthusiast’s car. The car I drove was the Club Model, this comes with the Bose audio system, performance enhanced Mazda anti roll bars, and the added lip spoiler. This Mazda also came with the limited edition Soul Red paint job with Satin Black 17-inch wheels. At this current configuration, the model I tested was $29,785. Unfortunately, however, this particular car did have what many (including myself) consider to be an automotive sin — the 6-Speed automatic gearbox. Save yourself a grand and get the legendary short throw manual instead.
The new model Mazda MX-5 goes up against some formidable competition, such as the strikingly similar Fiat 124 spider, the more powerful Subaru BRZ, and the more expensive Mini Cooper S. So posed with this fierce competition how does the Miata fair? The answer is simple; the MX-5 is king. It is lighter, cheaper, and more reliable than any of its competitors. Motor Trend reports that the MX-5 has superb styling in comparison to its competitors and that with the base price of $25,000 the MX-5 is the cheapest to own. Road & Track magazine also reports that this car has one of best manual transmission (which I missed out on…) and chassis made in the last 5 years, second only to the 2017 Porsche 911 (which in its base configuration is roughly $70,000 more than the MX-5).
With a push of the ignition button, the 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine gurgles to life. Even with the slightest level of gas and steering input it becomes quite evident that this car has a lot of pep. Ripping the car hard along a winding road allows the vehicle to shine. It feasts in the corners and loves to be shoved above 3,500 RPM where the max 150 pounds-foot of torque comes into play. By pressing the “sport” button the car transforms, gifting the driver with instantly sharper steering, better throttle input, and sharper gear changes. Even with this small amount of horsepower the MX-5 is able to eat up back roads carving. It’s competitor, the BRZ, however struggles in this regard, sliding all over and constantly fighting for grip. It’s in these tight bends that the Mazda’s critically acclaimed chassis proves its worth and the rear-wheel drive adds enough excitement — forcing one to contemplate a life in prison every time they stab the throttle.
Tearing the top down and cruising under the sun while smiling ear to ear is when the MX-5 makes the most sense. It is virtually impossible for one to consider this rear-wheel drive roadster winter capable however, due to its lightweight and summer tire compound. This car is impeccable in warmer climates and for driving three seasons out of the year.
Extensively handling of this car has taught me so much about driving. The MX-5 is truly an educating machine. Its lessons on the capabilities of grip, effective power and weight balance, and fun are well worth the $25,000 base price. The Mazda MX-5 is for people who want to put the joy back in driving and crave the freedom of the open road.