The last time we reported on the new fourth generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, it was in December, and December in the Northeast isn’t convertible weather. At least it isn’t top-down convertible weather, no matter how much you layer.
Still, a week in a Miata is still a week in a Miata, and we were going to press on regardless and hope that at least it wouldn’t snow. That it didn’t, because although we are able to drive RWD on snow and ice, we’d rather drive a Miata on pavement than ice.
This time, however, we arranged a Miata in September rather than December, and the weatherman obliged us with remarkable sports car weather, with highs in the low eighties, dipping into the sixties at night. This time, we could put the top down more than once.
And we did, every chance we could, and that was often and not just because of the weather. It’s also because the non-power top is easy to lower. The fourth generation—we’ll say “ND” because that’s way cooler (first generation was NA, the second NB, etc.)—Mazda Miata has a single latch in the middle of the windshield header. The top lifts up and collapses rearward with the overhead part of the roof, fabric backed by a hard panel, becoming the cover for the rest of the roof as it nestles into a space behind the seats, even with the rear deck. It clicks into place, and when it’s time to put the top up again, simply lift a tab to release the latch that holds it in the down position, and then pull the top back into place and close the latch over the windshield header.
Going up or down, it’s faster than a power top. It’s easier to get out to raise or lower the top, but with practice and a strong arm, it can be done from the driver’s seat. Think about that when it starts to rain. It takes less time than reading about it, even if you don’t move your lips. (And if you do, don’t take that personally. We’ll look the other way).
Our test from last December was with the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club, the trim line moniker suggesting “club racing,” which includes an air dam and decklid spoiler not available on other Miata trim levels, and an option available only on the Club, the Brembo/BBS package, which includes high-performance Brembo brakes and BBS wheels.
This go ‘round we had the opportunity to live with the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring. While the Club is biased towards performance—or performance greater than the base Miata Sport—the Grand Touring leans more towards, well, touring in the grand manner.
What does that mean for the Miata GT? Well, the 155-horsepower engine and drive train remain the same, but the Grand Touring’s list of extras is extensive, including 17-inch wheels shod with 205/45R17 tires, leather-trimmed seats, automatic climate control, a nine-speaker Bose audio system with headrest-mounted speakers, Homelink garage door opener, HD/SiriusXM satellite radio, along with Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE safety package which includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive front lighting, lane departure warning, and high beam control and rain-sensing wipers. It’s all stuff that adds weight, though Mazda doesn’t say how much, listing the MX-5 Miata’s curb weight at 2,332 pounds with the manual transmission and 2,789 with the automatic.
It does make a difference in price. The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Sport has a base price of $24,915. The Club lists for $28,600, the Brembo/BBS package adding $3,400. The Grand Touring starting price is $30,065. Keyless entry is a $130 option with the manual, standard with the automatic transmission but not available on Sport. The automatic transmission has paddle shifting and carries a list price of $1,075. Delivery is $835.
All trim levels come with the same gauging, most notably the large classic white-on-black tachometer located centrally in the instrument panel. It replaces the side-by-side speedometer and tachometer of the third generation Miata. The speedometer of the 2016 models is set off to the right side, with the lesser gauges to the left in a speedometer-sized ring in a white-on-black LCD display. The combination includes a calibrated(!) engine coolant temperature gauge, fuel gauge, outside temperature, and standard trip computer data.