(This article was originally published by Deanna Isaacs via The Auto Reporter.)
Anyone who has frequented this site will know by know that I’m a Mazda Miata/MX-5 fangirl. I sat on the edge of my couch watching the unveiling of the brand new MX-5 in September of 2014. Fast forward one year and the 2016 MX-5 is sitting in my driveway, waiting to take on the roads of Washington.
The first thing that came to mind when I saw it was to hug it. So I did. The second thing I did was hop in and go for a drive. So I dropped off my bags and did so – it was a dream come true. Even better yet, I had the car for the entire weekend.
The original iteration of Miata, called the NA (a designation, not naturally aspirated) came out more than 25 years ago and, since then, the MX-5 has carved out a place in many gearheads’ hearts throughout all model designs (NA, NB, and NC).
It only took 20 minutes for the ND (fourth generation) MX-5 to carve a spot out of my heart. It only took 20 minutes for me to decide I wanted to buy one, too, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The all new 2016 Mazda MX-5 comes in three variants – Sport, Club and Grand Touring – depending on how much sportiness or luxury one wants in their roadster. I had the Club, an iteration for those track-day enthusiasts.
This $33,120 variant of the Miata is incredibly fun – of course, Mazda knows what it’s doing with this fan favorite, 25-year-old brand.
Saturday morning, the husband and I get up and, after drinking my morning cup on the porch and watching the first rays of sun kiss the Soul Red paint, we headed north for some fun curves up near Bellingham.
As soon as the 17-inch BBS rims, covered in low-profile, high performance tires, hit the pavement along Chuckanut Drive the MX-5 came alive.
(Read more below the photograph.)
The 2.0L 4-cylinder SkyActiv engine gives no torque boost in the mid-powerband, but provides nearly instant access to the 155-hp and 148-lbft of torque throughout all RPMs. The acceleration was smooth and exciting, though it didn’t give the torque kick that the NAs do around the 3,500 to 4,000 RPM mark (I know… I own one).
While on the challenging curves of Chuckanut Drive, the Miata handled like a dream. The tires going exactly where you wanted them to, allowing one to head hot into a corner and come out the other end smiling like an idiot from ear to ear.
Part of that is because Mazda engineered the MX-5, again, with nearly perfect 50-50 weight distribution between the front and back.
It was also partially because of the planted traction given by the combination of Bilstein shocks, gripy performance tires, and incredible stopping power of the Brembo brake kit behind the rims.
The limited slip-differential (LSD) ensured that none of my tires were left wanting for grip, but were planted firmly each rotation. I got the backend loose, but I had to shut off the LSD or find several inches of water…I did the former in a vast, empty parking lot.
The donuts smelled like rubbery perfection.
The donuts were fun, but best suited to large empty parking lots. And parking lots are boring, so onto more roads.
Braking before the corners, I set the Miata on the outside line but well within my own lane. Angle towards the inside line, a buffer of inches (probably 10) from the rock cliff-face. Then, as the nose heads back to the outside line again, I was pushed back in my seat as I zoom-zoom’d toward the next corner dozens of feet ahead – a smile cemented to my face (it was there for around 3 days).
Chuckanut Drive – if you’ve never heard of it – is easily one of the top 10 curvy drives in Washington State. Now you know.
The Miata – if you don’t know – is easily one of the top 5 cars to take on the curves of Chuckanut Drive.
I did three tours of Chuckanut that day. And each corner more glorious than the last. Each moment more special with the ND MX-5.
It’s a special place for a special car – so special that a tourist thought it was more special and took a photo of it while we cruised through Bellingham suburb of Fairhaven. Well, she didn’t, a male with her snatched the phone to ensure a photo was taken (she was having technical issues) of this obviously elitist car.
I say that because the looks of the Miata reminisce not just to the previous generations of MX-5, but also to some modern European models (F-type-esque tail lights?).
Mazda created a flow from the exterior to the interior by designing the door panels to follow the same lines from the hood and rear panels. A smattering of leather exists on the steering wheel, shift knob and handbrake, but the seats are made from cloth and are lightweight for those track days.
It doesn’t have a glove box, but it does have a center console cubby and a storage compartment behind each seat. The trunk is ample given the size of the MX-5 – you won’t go golfing in it, but you could get away for a weekend.
Though it does do all that you want it to, including let you listen to your favorite music app through bluetooth. There’s even a USB connector in the center console so your phone won’t run out of juice.
Mazda’s infotainment screen location looks more like an afterthought in the confined interior of the MX-5. I vote that they either ditch it or make it pop-out from the dash for the 2017 model (they probably won’t, but I can dream).
The Club’s seats were a bit stiff, but… it’s the Club edition and I wasn’t complaining. (Ok, I was a little.)
Of course, the best part about the redesigned MX-5 is the ability to open and close the convertible top with one hand, no getting out of the car or spinning around in the driver’s seat at a stop light required.
There’s now only one latch, as opposed to the previous two latches, and to get the top up from the driver’s seat requires no effort at all. Simply unlatch the top, grab it, and pull it over your head. Perfection.
Our Saturday drive in the MX-5 was such an amazing experience, that we couldn’t end it there. The day after Chuchanut, I sat looking lustfully at it from the couch while dreaming of more driving roads.
Instead of technical curves, Canyon Road offered 22-miles of long sweeping corners, falling rock warnings before the road dips between two rock faces, and an ever-constant gently meandering river companion.
It was late when we started on the road (stopping for a moment in Roslyn to show him a town / show [Northern Exposure] from my childhood) and by the time we hit the road, the sun was dipping behind the cliffs.
I got one pass in before the sun was fully set, with the stop for an obligatory photo opportunity or two (one of which produced a wonderful conversation with a leather-clad biker).
By the time we got to the end of the series of sweeping curves, the sky was as red as the MX-5 and the Yakima Valley at the end of the road was a shadow of daytime self. The drive back, illuminated by seriously powerful LED headlights (much better than my NAs), was a breeze sans-deer.
We did encounter the several inches of water on the drive back from Eastern Washington along the I-90 corridor and the Club held it’s place well, even when hydroplaning at 60mph.
Even when you break the backend loose, the way the engineers have designed the MX5, it goes right back to where is should be nearly instantly. Which is a good thing when you start hydroplaning at 60mph next to a bus.
Cons to the 2016 Mazda MX-5 include the aforementioned afterthought-esque infotainment system and that’s it. No other complaints at all. This car is simply perfection; my dream car.
In one magnificent weekend, I put more than 500 miles on the Club Edition of the all-new 2016 Mazda MX-5 “Miata” and decided that one was required for my future garage within the first 10 of those miles.
It’s just. That. Good. (No bias… Ok, slightly biased.)