People in my line of work have been known to write raves about Mazda MX-5 Miatas, and to purchase them, as I have. Now that I’ve driven Club and Grand Touring versions of the redesigned 2016 Miata on canyon roads outside Los Angeles, it appears I’m going to do the first again, and possibly the second.
Declaring the latest version of a particular car model the “best ever” is often an empty headline. Automakers improve their models over time, and even if they take a step or two back in some ways, the overall redesigned effort usually represents the best ever. But in the case of the redesigned 2016 Miata, the fourth generation, the improvements are greater and more numerous than in any generational change to date. By turning back the clock in some ways and pushing the needle forward in many others, Mazda has created what is unquestionably the best Miata ever. If anything, it might be too good.
To drive a Miata, of any generation, is to recognize that the fun goes beyond the pleasure many find in a small car and/or a convertible. The Miata has always been about the visceral experience of a simple, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive car with equal (or nearly) front/rear weight distribution and balance that can carve corners and slide about with a degree of controllability that makes it safe in everyday driving. The best sports cars feel like an extension of the driver, and this is where the Miata has shone where some cars priced two or three times more have failed.