2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club review: Five reasons not to own the new Miata

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club

The world, seemingly, is agog about the new Miata. At least while we were driving a 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club, and even after we had returned it to Mazda, people were telling us they had one, they once rode in one, knew someone who had one, or gee, they always liked the Miata. Well, sure, that’s easy to say. However, we have five reasons not to own a 2016 Mazda Miata.

1: The cupholders are inconvenient to use. Seriously. Mazda put them on the back wall of the roadster’s cockpit, behind the driver’s and passenger’s elbows. Like that’s useful. Imagine reaching around to reach a hot cup of McDonald’s coffee in some sort of contortionist’s delight. Hit a bump and you’ll spill that paper cup of joe all over yourself. You could sue both McDonalds and Mazda.

2: There’s no glovebox. There’s no room behind the seats and only a small bin in the center rear bulkhead, large enough to hold the owner’s manual, vehicle registration and not much more. At least it locks. But if you want to stash your jacket you’ll have to put it in the trunk.

3: It doesn’t have a very big trunk. It’s only 4.59 cubic feet. It’s downright small. Where’s the practicality? What can you bring home from Lowe’s in that? It is nicely lined, unlike the first generation, which was bare metal, exposed spare and a rubber floor mat, but still, not much room.

4: Where’s the engine? Really, a sports car with a mere 155 horsepower? These days that’s acceptable for a subcompact sedan, but 200 horsepower is the bottom of performance respectability. And the Dodge Charger Hellcat? Seven-hundred seven horsepower. Now there’s an engine.

5: It’s noisy at highway speeds with the top up. The wind roars around the rear edges of the fabric roof. The top is more than a single layer of cloth, but it still doesn’t do much to damp out sound. We couldn’t listen to satellite radio on our test vehicle because Mazda hadn’t activated service, but it really didn’t matter. Talking required outside voices in the 2016 Mazda Miata. Not much reason for the radio.

6: There is no six. We were only listing five reasons.

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club (click to enlarge)

And truth be known, we can’t think of many more, at least with the understanding that the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club is a sports car, a roadster with minimal creature comforts, compact inside and out, and built the purposed of going quickly down a winding road or race track. On the right road, there will be few cars, at least in the price range, that will get to the other end in less time, and fewer cars that will be more engaging. “Fun to drive” is an overworked phrase in the automotive field. The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata earns it.

The 2016 Mazda Miata MX-5 Miata is the fourth (also known as ND) generation of Mazda’s take on the classic British sports car, and each generation, while staying true to the original concept, grew larger and heavier and required more horsepower just to keep up. With the new generation, however, Mazda elected to go back to the Miata’s roots.

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club interior

The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club has body-color accents on yhe inner door panels. Cupholders are mounted on the rear bulkhead of the cabin. (click to enlarge)

The 2016 Miata is lighter than its immediate predecessor, with weight in true Miata fashion taken off just about everywhere around the car. New front brake rotors, for example, save 14 lbs. Twenty-six pounds was shaved off the suspension, 16 off the transmission. The driveshaft is three pounds lighter, and Mazda engineers took eight pounds out of the air conditioning and instruments. Individually it’s not much, but altogether Mazda reduced weight from 2,500 lbs for the 2015 model to 2,332 lbs for the 2016 MX-5 Miata with the manual transmission.

Compared to the third generation, the engine is down on power, from 167 horses to 155. Torque however increased to 148 lb-f from 140, with the torque peak occurring at 4600 rpm instead of 5000 rpm. Instead of racing to the highest engine revs possible, the new Miata gets more twist at lower, if not exactly stump-pulling rpm, that combined with the weight, gives more acceleration at more moderate engine speeds, which means more performance without having to constantly flog the Miata. Which for real world applications is much more realistic.

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club instrument panel

The tachometer of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club is large and in the center of the instrument panel, (click to enlarge)

Mazda continues with a six-speed manual transmission (there’s a six-speed paddle-shift automatic available for those who don’t fully appreciate the idea of a sports car) and that’s a good thing. Revs run high at Interstate speeds, well into three grand territory, but the engine doesn’t feel stressed.

The Miata is the gold standard against which shifter feel is measured and the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata won’t disappoint. The stubbly lever flicks from gear to gear with magnetic precision. Hard core enthusiasts may prefer a shorter throw. Never fear. Throw money in the right direction and a short-throw shift kit is yours.

We either need wider feet or Mazda needs to move the brake and throttle pedal closer. It’s a stretch for a number nine shoe to cover the distance easily for accurate heel-and-toe downshifts. (If you don’t know what that means and you own a Miata, hie thee to a driving school. It’s an art form being lost thanks to the pervasiveness of automatic transmission, particularly manu-matic paddle shifters in sports cars. The purpose of a Miata is immersion in sports car experience, and drivers should learn to do it right).