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2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club long-term wrap-up | Farewell, fun friend

About one year ago, we took delivery of a 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata. We made sure we got the sportiest version we could, the Club model (which includes Bilstein shocks, a limited-slip differential and a front shock tower brace) with optional BBS wheels and Brembo brakes. We also sprung for the appearance package to give our cute little roadster a modicum of aggression. It was a tad pricey at $ 32,835, but we enjoyed every minute of it. Well, almost every minute of it. It’s not a perfect car, as it’s loud and stiff on the highway, and we ran into an issue in which the top had to be replaced (under warranty). But minor grievances aside, just about everyone who drove the little roadster came back with a smile, especially when we took it to a racetrack. Below are final thoughts on the car from our editors.

Senior Green Editor John Beltz Snyder: This car is about as car as any car gets. It’s so car! That is to say, it’s pure in its mission and in its effective execution as a driver’s plaything. Its crisp steering, snickety six-speed manual gearbox, and rev-happy engine create the wonderful sensation that you’re driving faster than the speedometer reads. Normal speeds never felt so heroic. The view out the front is fantastic, too, and the curves of the hood are nothing short of inspiring as they frame the road ahead.

I don’t care that it’s noisy, jarring, and ergonomically weird. Old and British in spirit, it offers a level of engagement that’s hard to find in a new car, especially for under $ 30,000.

Anyone who has a Miata in their stable isn’t lucky. They’re smart.

Senior Editor Alex Kierstein: I’m a bit embarrassed to think back to my first impressions about driving the MX-5 now that I’ve had so much seat time in this one. While I loved the idea of it as a throwback to the original NA Miata from the moment it was revealed, I was a bit turned off by how civilized it was. And how quick it was. No longer a momentum car, the new MX-5 seemed more forgiving of bad gear selection or a bad corner entry. I felt like something had been removed, a ragged edge, some everyday engagement.

Well, a year on, and my feelings have changed. If you stop comparing it directly to the (slow, weedy, rattly, uncomfortable) first- and second-generation cars, it’s a brilliant little roadster. I miss the raw edge less and enjoy the livability more — the raw edge was really just a lack of civility. A flaw that forced you to engage with the thing every moment. The new MX-5 can sometimes recede into the background, and it just becomes a little car that you can tool around in. But boot it around a few corners and it speaks to you more clearly, because there’s less static between you and its lovely dynamics. I think the engagement is deeper despite being more subtle.

Subtlety isn’t something often appreciated in this horsepower boom era. And if it were my money, I think the rawness of the early 1.8-liter cars appeals to me a bit more. But I was wrong to dismiss the new MX-5 as too civilized. It’s a brilliant roadster with few flaws and loads of charm. It’s something you can live with every day, in at least three seasons, and should even appeal to sportscar-allergic friends or family. Pound for pound and dollar for dollar, there’s no higher concentration of fun around. I’ll miss this little guy.

Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale: I’m going to miss this thing. Even though it’s not ideal for long drives or daily commuting on rough roads, it’s just so hilariously fun. As cliche as it is, it really feels like a go-kart, and honestly the rough ride supports that feeling. Of course, its diminutive size and wicked quick reflexes are also contributing factors. The engine is a sweetheart, and feels way more potent than its 155-horsepower rating suggests. It’s enough to push you in your seat, and enough to get it sideways at street-legal speeds. It even has a good exhaust note that finds the perfect spot where it’s audible, but won’t bother the neighbors. The only weak points are noise and refinement, and the Grand Touring trim and RF body style go a long way to rectifying those issues. If you’re looking for a fun toy that will be reliable, affordable, and economical, you can’t go wrong with a Miata.

Autoblog General Manager Adam Morath: The Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of my favorite cars on the market. As an affordable RWD roadster, it’s differentiated. The execution is spot on — only improved by the recent redesign.

In other words, the Miata delivers on its promises. And what it promises is fun and different.

It’s still too noisy (almost seems like it’s gotten worse, but I haven’t driven it back-to-back w/ the old model) and can feel a bit cramped with the top up. I had acceptable headroom, but my elbowroom sometimes felt a bit infringed upon. Also, I’d love to see Mazda update what feels like an aftermarket radio. That said, these are small gripes considering Miata is a near-perfectly executed, affordable sports convertible. Highly recommended for those in warm climates.

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