Mazda’s latest MX-5 is fun, fun, fun

They’re gonna need a bigger awards cabinet.

   The latest gong to be bestowed on Mazda’s fun ’n feisty MX-5 Miata roadster – and there have been many – is 2016 World Car of the Year.

   OK, it’s a pretty dumb accolade. No way is such a specialist, ultra low-volume, two-seat roadster the best new car in the world.

Mazda MX-5 Miata - review of the new Mazda with Howard Walker

   Best sports car? Maybe. Most fun-to-drive roadster? You bet. World Car of the Year? Don’t be silly.

  But for anyone who loves to drive, loves the feeling of sun on their face and wind in their hair, loves the thrill of carving a curve – or at least a tight interstate on-ramp – this latest Miata is joy on wheels.

  And let’s not forget that since the cute-as-can-be Miata was launched way back in 1990, close to a million have been sold. That’s a lot for such a specialist car.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

  I’ve just spent a week piloting the raciest Miata, the $29,420 Club. And I’m still wearing an ear-to-ear, Julia Roberts-like smile to prove it.

   It’s the combination of laser-precise steering, superglue-like tire grip, and other-worldly suspension and chassis control that sweeps the car round curves as if it’s running on invisible rails.

   With the Club version you get a limited-slip differential to put more power to the road, upgraded suspension with Bilstein shocks, and shock-tower bracing to add body stiffness. Stick numbers on the doors and you could take it straight to the track.

Mazda MX-5 Miata - tailights

   And check the box for the must-have $3,400 Brembo/BBS Package which adds time-stopping Brembo rotors and calipers, racy 17-inch black BBS forged alloy rims, a front air dam and rear lip spoiler. This is the version to have. Trust me.

   If you want a little more luxe, there’s the leather-trimmed Grand Touring which  comes with fancy Bose 9-speaker stereo, automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers and navigation. All for $30,885, or $32,090 with a smooth six-speed paddle-shifter automatic.

   Whichever new MX-5 Miata you pick – and you can get into the entry-level Sport version for just $25,735 – you get the latest 2.0-liter Skyactiv direct-injection four-cylinder cranking out an ample 155-hp.

Mazda MX-5 Miata - the newest Miata

   Couple that to the best six-speed manual shifter on the planet and you’ll zip from standstill to 60 in six seconds while averaging up to 34 to the gallon.

   OK, we don’t have the best driving roads here in the Sunshine State to enjoy hurling this little Mazda through the curves, but top down there’s no more fun way to cruise to the beach.

   And it has the easiest folding soft-top ever. To open, you simply twist the latch on the windshield header, throw it back and give the top a little push to secure it in place. Five seconds max.  To raise it, another little prod releases it, and you just pull it back to the top of the windshield. No need for electric motors or fancy mechanisms. Brilliant.

    Inside, the seats grip you tighter than a hug from The Rock, all the controls are right there, and visibility with the top down is endless.

    2016 World Fun Car of the Year? Yup, I’d go with that.

Mazda MX-5 Miata interior - top down

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