- - Sunday, March 6, 2016

Roadster anyone? As in the all new 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Standout features this year include not only upgraded safety, but also increased technology, a lighter bodyweight and a spunky performance putting this reasonably priced soft top on the road to success.

Even though it is small inside and out, you still get all the goodies that you need these days like the infotainment system with a seven-inch touchscreen. That’s even in this little two-seater, indeed, the Miata has a lot of class.

The competition, if you want to look at other options, will be hard to find certainly in the price range for a two-seater that’s fun to drive. You can look at the Mini Cooper convertible, but that is really apples and oranges or there is the much more expensive Nissan 370Z Roadster.

The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata has three trim levels to choose from the Sport, Club and Grand Touring. The Sport will give you 16-inch alloy wheels, manually retractable soft top with a glass rear window, a push button ignition, LED headlights and taillights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, cruise control, all power and techno goodies like Bluetooth and audio connect with six speakers and a USB port and auxiliary audio jack.

Moving up to the Club level, there are choices that vary depending on the transmission. If you opt for the manual, you will get the best roadster ride with a sport-tuned suspension, shock-tower brace and limited-slip differential. There is also 17-inch wheels, sport front fascia, rear lip spoiler, roll hoops, red interior stitching and a bit nicer interior trim with nine speakers and dual USB ports. You also get the seven-inch touchscreen with a control knob located on the center console.

The top of the line Grand Touring comes with an automatic transmission and goodies like a sound enhancer with adaptive headlights that have automatic high beams, auto-dimming and heated mirrors and seats, automatic wipers, cloth-lined top with leather upholstery, a navigation system and a safety package with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning.

If you choose the automatic transmission there is a keyless ignition and entry and the Miata even has a package called the Brembo/BBS package you can add on. This package comes with a manual-transmission with 17-inch forged BBS wheels and the Brembo front brakes that include an aero body kit.

Under the hood, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata is rear-wheel-drive with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that has 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. The six-speed manual comes standard, but an automatic can be had with a steering-wheel-mounted shift paddle on all the trim level choices.

Safety on the 2016 Miata includes antilock disc brakes, side airbags and stability and traction control. The high end Grand Touring trim adds the blind-spot monitor and lane departure warning as well as the rear cross-traffic alert.

Since the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a convertible in the coolest sense of the word, the manual convertible top is easy to pop up and down just as it should be. In fact, once you get the hang of it you will be able flip the top up and back while sitting in the car. It certainly doesn’t get much easier than that.

Don’t plan on taking anything with you when you are out driving this Mazda though, because the trunk space is a mere 4.6 cubic feet. Inside the Miata, it is equally small so the head and legs will be a little cramped until you can get that top down. There is also a comfortable seat both driver and passenger with mesh suspension and the material used on the door panels, dash and the console feels good too.

In such a tiny space, it’s also good to know that the knobs and dials are all placed easily for use. And even in the base trim, you get phone and audio connectivity.

As for driving the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata, it’s fun and you can feel the spunk as it takes the road and handles the curves. The sporty little Miata looks good too — count it as a part of your weekend warrior package and get ready to take the open road by storm discovering new heights while also enjoying the breeze.

Should You Need to Know: The redesigned 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata surprisingly weighs 200 pounds less than the earlier version.

Miles Per Gallon: The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata has a combined miles per gallon of 30 with a breakdown of 27 miles per gallon in the city manual and automatic and 34 miles per gallon on the highway with the manual and 36 miles per gallon on the highway in the automatic.

Cost: The cost of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata ranges from $24,915 to $30,065.

For more auto tips and information, follow Rita @RitaCook13.

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