Summer’s winding down and in Texas that means convertible season is about to begin. The selection in this segment has dwindled over the years but one little roadster celebrated 26 years of success this year. For 2016, the Mazda MX-5 Miata gets a whole new look and improvements. On a recent test drive of the MX-5 Grand Touring for Latino Traffic Report, it made me smile just looking at it, and from ear-to-ear after getting behind the wheel.
While the convertible still requires a manual release rather than an automatic one, the cloth top is light so it can be done quickly and easily—with one hand in my case.
As expected, the diminutive Miata is fuel efficient, but the fourth-generation MX-5 adopts SKYACTIV Technology for a 25-percent greater fuel-efficiency and drops 150 pounds to make it faster and save even more gas.
The test model powertrain included a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine matched to the SKYACTIV six-speed manual transmission. It had an EPA estimated rating of 27 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. I averaged 31.2 mpg during the weeklong test. While the manual transmission ramps up the Miata’s sporty performance, a six-speed automatic transmission is also available.
A double-wishbone front suspension further enhanced performance as well as a lightweight but rigid rear multilink setup.
Known for a driving experience best described as “zoom-zoom,” Mazda was also one of the first to offer safety technology that had been reserved for premium brands, like a blind-spot monitor. On the top-of-the-line Touring model that I tested, Mazda goes further by adding rear cross traffic alert as a standard feature, along with the blind spot monitor. Sadly, these features are not available on the Sport and Club trims.
All three MX-5 trim levels, however, come equipped with air conditioning, a push-button starter, cruise control, steering wheel mounted audio and speed controls, power door locks, USB input, Bluetooth wireless phone pairing and audio streaming, a leather shift knob, and as an added bonus, a CD player. The Touring adds heated leather trimmed seats, a Bose audio system and Mazda Connect infotainment system (standard on the Club trim as well) with a seven-inch color touch screen, and navigation. The number of radio presets was limited to twelve and couldn’t be set while the car was in motion, an odd inconvenience.
Probably the greatest appeal of the Miata, besides the open-air ride, is its value—it’s one of the most affordable convertibles in its segment. Pricing for the 2016 Miata MX-5 starts at $25,735. The as-tested pricing came to $31,315.
Sí: The Miata is a fun and affordable roadster, packed with lots of features.
No: Safety features like a blind spot monitor should be available on the lower trim levels and I need at least 40 presets on a radio.
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