Car of the Year

Mazda MX-5 Miata: 2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year Finalist

Time to Take a Closer Look?

Time to Take a Closer Look?

We Like: Just about everything.

We Don’t Like: A bit of the buzz, a curve here and there

Those who dismiss the new fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata as, well, whatever, need to take a closer look, particularly at our judges’ driving notes.

“Wow. Just wow,” Scott Burgess said. “There really wasn’t anything about this car that I didn’t like.”

Stay tuned to MotorTrend.com as the 2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year contenders and finalists are revealed in advance of the official winner announcement on the evening of November 16. Learn about other Car of the Year contenders and finalists at the links below. Check out the Car of the Year introduction HERE, read about the evaluation process HERE, and discover how our Of The Year awards have evolved HERE.

Walton said that he “fell in love with driving all over again, experiencing the fundamental operation of driving—gas, clutch, shift, repeat.” Angus MacKenzie called the MX-5 “simply a joy to drive, from walking pace to ten-tenths. No matter what level your talent, it makes you smile.”

In addition to acing performance of intended function, the MX-5 absolutely nails our engineering criteria, too, top down—it has the best convertible roof in the business. “I love being able to throw it up or toss it back down with just the flick of the wrist,” Christian Seabaugh said. Jason Cammisa had more passionate, comprehensive praise: “This is the car that the whole industry says isn’t possible; 10 percent lighter than the old car, fewer horsepower but better in every way. While every other automaker adds complexity and weight for the sake of a percent or two gain in fuel economy, here’s one that added no complexity, took out weight, and scored a 25 percent increase in EPA combined fuel economy for the manual, 30 percent for the automatic.”

We had some minor quibbles, such as road noise, but its design also wasn’t a home run. “The surfacing is curious in that it is somewhat inconsistent with the line work,” guest judge Tom Gale said. “The shapes over the front fenders are a little soft or rearward of an expected peak, and the shape in the quarter area seems arbitrary.” MacKenzie was more blunt. “The new MX-5 is something of a missed opportunity,” he said. “It could have been stunningly gorgeous. But it isn’t.”

Alas, beauty is but skin deep. And this new Miata earned the affection of everyone who drove it.

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Grand Touring
BASE PRICE $29,420 $32,090
PRICE AS TESTED $32,820 $32,090
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door convertible Front-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door convertible
ENGINE 2.0L/155-hp/148-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 2.0L/155-hp/148-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual 6-speed automatic
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 154.1 x 68.3 x 48.8 in 154.1 x 68.3 x 48.8 in
WHEELBASE 90.9 in 90.9 in
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 2,326 lb (52/48%) 2,384 lb (53/47%)
ACCELERATION, 0-60 MPH 6.1 sec 6.8 sec
QUARTER MILE 14.6 sec @ 93.3 mph 15.3 sec @ 91.0 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 111 ft 116 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.90 g (avg) 0.89 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.9 sec @ 0.70 g (avg) 26.4 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 27/34/30 mpg 27/36/30 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 125/99 kW-hrs/100 miles 125/94 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.65 lb/mile 0.64 lb/mile
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 26/38/30

2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contenders:

2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year Finalists: