Modern Motoring: Reviewing the 2016 Mazda MX-5

Those eyes. Those beautiful, shapely, focused eyes. That aggressive stance, the handsome, sculpted body. The elegance throughout. The intelligent, intuitive, brain. The sure-footedness, the confidence, the unmistakable stares that are constantly bestowed upon you. But it’s those damn eyes that drew me in.
Yes, I’m talking about what I see in the mirror every morning if my name is Ryan Gosling. But also, in this instance, I’m referring to the fourth-generation, 2016 Mazda MX-5.

Mazda’s soft top convertible roadster has a sexy new look for 2016 and has raised its own already high bar. Weighing in at a paltry 1,058 kg and barking out 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft. of torque, the power to weight ratio truly favors Mazda’s “zoom zoom” mentality.
My manual shifting tester, in a stunning Soul Red Mica, was a welcome sight and navigating the short-throw gearbox required little effort. Past MX-5 models have required a bit of effort from a DIY transmission, but not this time. The engineers at Mazda took something that was fun to drive, transformed it beautifully and hit the “caps lock” button along with pressing “shift 1” about 100 times. The 50-50 front to rear weight distribution definitely wins the ‘best supporting factor' award for a beautiful and balanced ride quality.

Equipped with the now common “SkyActiv” technology, the MX-5 makes for favorable fuel economy without sacrificing power and excitement. Fuel economy ratings state 8.8 L/100 km for city jaunts and 6.9 L/100 km for highway driving. Combined over a week of driving (and I definitely drove it a lot!), I scored 6.5 with an even balance of urban and rural routes.
17” tires are spun by a rear wheel drive system and the MX-5 drinks 45 liters of premium fuel to quench its thirst for driving excitement.
Simply put, this car is fun to drive. It handles extremely well, it’s small, it’s got more than enough power and torque. Moreover, the MX-5 has shed its “cute” look and sports a more refined, adult look. Did I mention it’s fun to drive? I feel I did. Yup, I did. And I mentioned it again.

Inside, the MX-5 offers a simplistic layout, but they’ve jammed plenty of technology as well. The HMI commander switch (central navigation dial and a few handy buttons) located behind the gearbox is a smart way to maneuver the 7” touchscreen if you want to keep it fingerprint-free. Oh, and if you like your music to be crisp, clear and loud with the top down, the available Bose 9-speaker premium audio system will ensure that you won’t skip a beat, especially in the GT model, where there are speakers in the headrests. The GT’s leather-trimmed and heated seats are comfortable and hold your body in place as you twist and turn the leather-wrapped steering wheel, complete with audio/cruise/Bluetooth controls. My GS tester was just as comfortable and was optioned with the Sport Package, which included 17" BBS wheels, Brembo front brakes, red painted brake calipers and heated Recaro sport seats which were leather and Alcantara trimmed. 

Opening up the top is extremely easy by simply sliding a button and releasing the latch, pushing back and locking it into place. Closing the roof is just as easy by lifting the release lever and locking it back in once fully closed. Really, the only time I had the roof closed was when I parked it overnight in my driveway. Not for fear of theft, rather for fear of bugs and spiders being found inside in the morning. Or possibly a neighbor.

I’d make one tiny change to the MX-5 and it’s based on sheer laziness, so please don’t mistake this for me throwing shade at good ol’ Mazda: I’d like to have had the doors unlock with a button/sensor on the door handle. With a keyless start/stop button, I’d like to have kept the keys in my pocket the entire time instead of fiddling with them to lock/unlock the car.
I told you it was a laziness complaint.

Technology wise, there’s plenty available on the table to keep you safe while you’re attracting the glances of strangers and friends. Available options include blind spot monitoring, adaptive front lighting, rear cross traffic alerts, lane departure warning and high beam control. So it’s strong, sexy and smart.

As you may have guessed from the beginning of this review, the appearance of the 2016 MX-5 is the show-stopper. Gone is the bubbly, smiling face with the “doe eyed” headlights and in its place is a “Yes, I’m to be taken quite seriously” face. More people commented on the appearance of the car than how it performed, especially since I drove it to my sister’s church wedding ceremony. And I was happy to brag about both, but more so about the performance aspect.

With a starting price of $31,900 for the entry GX (and maxed out at $39,200 for the fully jammed GT model), expect to see a few more of these beauties on the road over the coming months.

Mazda has taken great, refined it, raised its own expectations and produced a beautiful two-seater convertible car that’s got style, sense and speed. And for a wonderful week in early September, it had my hair blowing in the wind, sunglasses on, music turned up and a very serious looking smile on my face.

P.S. Kudos to me for not making an “eyes are the windows to your Soul Red Mica” pun.

Enjoy the full gallery below: