2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata: New King of the Roadsters?

2016 Mazda MX5 Miata, front

I’ve needed some time to digest this one.

When it was announced that Mazda would unveil its 2016 MX-5 Miata this week, part of me hoped for a design that would blow me out of the water and leave me with nothing to say except to declare Mazda the king of all roadsters.

That didn’t happen. At least not right away.

As I’ve examined the photos and compared the new Miata with past versions and with other roadsters, my thinking is beginning to change. While we don’t know a lot of details yet regarding performance numbers or price, we can assume there won’t be any problems there, because past generations have never disappointed. So for now, we’re left to compare based on design only.

At first glance, the new Miata is nice, but not striking. It’s low-slung, it’s wide, it’s subtle, it retains the open-mouth grille of other models from Mazda, and it has a slightly more aggressive stance than previous versions. There’s even a small hint of a Jaguar F-Type in there, which is a huge compliment, because to my eye, that’s the most attractive roadster on the market today.

Some parts of the new Miata just don’t work for me, though. The headlamps look too small (though they use LED technology, which is cool), and the rear end looks very, well, Miata.

2016 Mazda MX5 Miata, rear

But here’s the thing: The Miata has survived and thrived all these years because it’s simple. Mazda purists don’t want flashy and intense, they want pure and basic. To that end, the new Miata delivers spectacularly. The drive will undoubtedly be a kick in the pants, and the price, we hope, will remain affordable.

That’s were Mazda beats the competition. The Jaguar can run nearly $100,000 fully loaded in top trim, while the Porsche Boxster begins at over $50,000 and skyrockets in price from there.

As I’ve thought about it, I’ve realized that Mazda is doing exactly what it should be doing with the Miata. I would’ve been upset had Mazda tried to move it upmarket to the Jag/Porsche level, so seeing it reside where it has a market basically to itself is a very good thing.

Will the new 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata be the king of all roadsters?

-tgriffith

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