Under powered, heavier but cheapest. When comparing the Miata MX-5 to the other two choices in episode 5 of The Grand Tour, these descriptions are pretty accurate. So why would someone who’s in the market for a two seater convertible choose the MX-5? Let’s open the hood, pull back the doors and get to know the MX-5.
First off I’d like to touch on the history of this amazing little 2 seater. The Miata was first introduced in 1989, for the 1990 model year. It has seen a few different changes since then. In 1998 they went from the pop-up headlights to built in style, for the ’99 model year. Then in 2006 it was once again re-designed making it a bit more “bloated” (in my opinion) but still the same amazing driving experience. That model ran through 2015 and now we have this glorious 4th gen MX-4 to play with. Mazda has done an incredible job with the re-styling of the outside, it’s almost like they took the 3rd gen and used a fine sculpting knife and just smoothed everything out. Giving it more lines and inlets. The headlights have been squeezed and now they’re angry. It’s a 180 degree change when you first lay eyes on it.
For the 2016 MX-5 everything has been scaled down. Weight, size, power, etc. But that’s a good thing. Mazda decided to go with a more “modern” look with the 4th gen. Adding lines off the headlights and hood. LED day time running lights in the front bumper may be one of the most eye catching, “wait a minute”, moments when you first see this gen. The rear end also has a fresh new look. Mazda went away from the idea of keeping the same squished oval-ish look, that’s been on the Miata since day one, and designed a new modern LED unique look. Like stated previously, this generation is shorter and not as wide as the previous gen, in fact it’s damn near first gen size. So, maybe a homage to the first gen wrapped in a modern design? I like to think so.
So for the insides. From the previous gen to this one everything is where you’re used to it being, well, kind of. The 4th gen has had a big face lift. It’s center control area has gone from a single section to a more broken up layered layout (which I personally love). It has a new gauge cluster as well, a treat for the drivers eyes. A new center console and a new steering wheel finish off the “new” as far as a re-design stand point. As for materials used, those too have been upgraded. How about technology? Well the 4th gen has an option list for inside toys that will make even the pickiest of people happy. Some of these toys include an available 9-speaker sound system, an improved infotainment system that has both USB input and Bluetooth audio, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure warning.
There isn’t anything new on the 4th gen as far as the motor and trans options go. It’s still the same 2.0-liter n/a motor that puts out 155 horsepower, which is a bit less than the previous gen’s 167 horsepower. The gen 4 does have more torque at 148 lb-ft versus the previous 140lb-ft. The 2 liter is mated to a 6 speed manual trans (or with an optional 6-speed auto) which together will take you to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and on up to a top speed of 129.
Having had the privilege of driving the gen 4 as well as many of it’s competitors (and all previous generation MX-5s) I have to say that I absolutely love this package. Once again Japan has produced a true sports car that will surely deliver a smile. With the stand out looks, the weight loss plus the torque gains and all the technology you can pretty much ask for, it really is hard to find a better sports car for the money.
For a special treat for your eyes and ears, our friends over at Everyday Driver have put together a great video of the MX-5’s sights and sounds. Also they have a video showing you the different generations of the Miata. Check them out!