Drivetrain: A new 2.0-liter four-cylinder won’t break any speed records, but you won’t go broke cruising across the country.
At long last (10 model-years, to be exact), Mazda has introduced the fourth-generation of the world’s all-time best-selling roadster. Compared to the outgoing Miata, the 2016 edition is considerably sleeker from grille to trunk lid. The fenders now bulge aggressively out from the body, the grinning air intake has thankfully been toned down, and the truncated rear deck evokes thoughts of BMW’s Z4 two-seater. The headlights appear influenced by Siamese cats’ eyes. Mazda’s stylists cut the overall length down by more than three inches and reduced the distance between the front and rear wheels by close to an inch. A full-court press aimed at weight reduction has also yielded a not-insignificant 150-pound decrease, with the help of aluminum body panels and lightened components. The completely revamped cockpit is as clean as they come, including a trio of clearly marked gauges, oversize control knobs for the ventilation system and an available seven-inch touch-screen with voice command for the audio and communications units. The slick non-power soft-top (a power-operated retractable hardtop is not offered) takes only one hand to unlatch or secure it in place. The MX-5’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is identical in displacement to the previous 2.0, but its peak horsepower is less (155 versus 167 horsepower), but 148 pound-feet of torque beats the older engine’s 140 rating. The engine can be matched with a six-speed manual transmission or available six-speed automatic. The base MX-5 “Sport” arrives with air conditioning, a six-speaker stereo, push-button start and Bluetooth connectivity, while the “Club” adds a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein-brand shocks, limited-slip differential, front suspension brace (manual-gearbox-models only), front and rear spoilers, Bose audio system with headrest speakers and 17-inch wheels (16-inchers are standard). The top-level “Grand Touring’s” upgrades encompass climate control, heated leather seats, navigation system and an insulated cloth-lined top. Extra Grand Touring safety features include lane-departure warning (for the inattentive driver) and blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert (warns when other vehicles are approaching from behind on the highway and when you’re backing up).