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[Review] 2016 Mazda MX-5 Roadster Limited

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The Mazda MX-5 has been an iconic roadster since the 1990s. Back then, very little technology was available in terms of safety and entertainment. Fast-forward to 2016, you have an equally iconic and popular MX-5 roadster, but with much better technology, improved safety features as well as a comfortable cabin. It has a very rigid body, and because of its 50:50 front-rear weight distribution and a lowered center of gravity, the vehicle is very responsive and stable while driving. Impressively, the kerb weight of the roadster is still kept at a minimum, weighing in at just a mere 1,033 grams for the 2.0L manual roadster! Did I mention that it’s top 2016 model only costs $47,000?

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The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Roadster is a car that turns a lot of heads when parked or moving. This is mainly because of its striking ‘Kodo’ design, which brings out the MX-5’s lean, muscular body, and because the MX-5 is well known to be a fun and reliable car to drive, since the 90s starting out with the first generation NA model. The Soul Red Metallic colour that came on my MX-5 also adds to its overall visibility too!

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Our 2016 Mazda MX-5 review car had a 2.0L 4 cylinder engine with Mazda’s signature SKYACTIV technology. Mazda’s SKYACTIV technology is supposed to give its cars more power and torque, while using less fuel to do so. This results in you having more fun to drive the car, while saving on fuel. The 2.0L Mazda MX-5 gives a maximum power of 118kW and a maximum torque of 200Nm. It’s rear-wheel drive, and has a manual transmission. The 2.0L Mazda MX-5 also has the option of an automatic transmission, but if you want the full experience of driving an MX-5, you should really opt for the manual transmission!

Surprisingly, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 is pretty fuel efficient for a sports car. The trip computer told me my fuel consumption was on average 7.9l/100km. Now for a sports car that runs on Unleaded 95 petrol, that is pretty impressive. It must have something to do with Mazda’s SKYACTIV technology, as I was able to get around 550KM in a full 45L tank!

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Night time!

Driving the Mazda MX-5 is an experience that one is very unlikely to forget. When you start up the engine, it will give you a good growl, making its presence known to you and others around you. Shift it into gear, release clutch to biting point, add a bit of gas, and you’re off! Because the 2.0L 6-speed manual roadster only weighs a mere 1,033 grams kerb weight, it is pretty powerful. Take-off from being stationary can be pretty quick if you can handle the manual transmission well. 0-100 takes about 7.7 seconds!

Corners are handled exceptionally well because of how low the car sits to the ground. At no point during the turn do you feel the car will lose control, even at speed. This is also helped by its traction control system, which can be turned off if you wish, for track activities.

The Always-Smiling MX-5!

When I first went to collect the roadster, the first thing I noticed was that the car was actually happy to see me! It’s like the roadster wanted me to take it out for a spin; it wanted me to its owner; it wanted me to buy her! The front of the MX-5 has a pleasantly ‘smiling’ face which certainly does get one’s attention, even if you are having a bad day. If you are having a bad day, go for a drive in the MX-5. It will most certainly turn your bad day into a good day.

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Lockable Center Console storage for small items like your wallet.
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More storage compartments hidden behind the driver and passenger side seats.

Getting in and out of the Mazda MX-5 was a bit of a hassle considering it was pretty low to the ground and the seats were deep to accommodate large people too. However, once you’re in the driver’s seat, you will soon forget you’re in a pretty compact space. I managed to convince a 2 meter tall person to try get into the MX-5 and he was just able to fit. If you put down the roof, you may be able to get an ever so slightly more headroom.

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Speaking of the seats, the 2.0L MX-5 Roadster Limited comes with the black leather seat trim with red stitching. They are pretty comfortable even for drives longer than an hour. In the mornings, you can even turn on the seat warmer for even better comfort.

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Moving on to the technology side of the 2016 Mazda MX-5, we have a 7-inch touchscreen display (same display as on the 2015 Mazda6 vehicle) powered by Mazda’s MZD Connect system. There are two ways to operate the system: via touchscreen or via the rotary multi-function dial in the center console. For safety reasons, the touchscreen can only be operated when stationary or moving at a very slow speed. Use of the MZD Connect system is very fluent and there is no noticeable lag when navigating through options.

Steering wheel-mounted controls let you control the volume, skip tracks, activate voice control, answer/reject calls and set the cruise control speed. Cruise control is not adaptive or radar controlled, so you will have to brake if you are getting too close to the car in front.

Safety features on the MX-5 come with Mazda’s i-ACTIVESENSE safety package. Lane-departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, dynamic safety control, ABS, brake override system and blind spot monitoring are all included in the 2.0L Roadster Limited. Find out more about the safety features of the MX-5 here.

Additional safety features I would’ve liked to have seen on this car is rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. It has rear cross traffic alert, so would it not be possible to add two more sensors onto the back for parking? A reversing camera would’ve been a great addition too as unless you have the roof down, it is pretty hard to see out the back, and you just have to hope there is nothing small behind you and rely on your side mirrors. Most likely Mazda were trying to keep the weight to an absolute minimum, but a couple of parking sensors and a camera would’ve been beneficial even for an additional few grams.

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I love to listen to music when I drive. It certainly adds to the thrill and excitement of driving. My 2.0L Roadster Limited had a 203-watt Bose amplifier with 9 speakers. There are headrest speakers for the driver and passenger side, and I liked how the in-call sound goes directly to the driver’s headrest speakers for more clearer sound. FM/AM radio, aha, Pandora and Stitcher apps are on the entertainment system, as well as Bluetooth, USB and AUX options.

Satellite navigation is also included in the 2.0L Roadster Limited, but is an additional accessory option in the 1.5L Roadster GSX. However, nothing beats Google Maps for top-notch navigation, in my opinion.

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In conclusion the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Roadster Limited is very fun to drive. It’s low center of gravity, lightweight car and improved safety features make it a pleasure to drive. Could I use this as a daily driver? I possibly could if I knew I wasn’t going to carry lots of items for the day. The MX-5 is not meant for carrying lots of items, however its deep boot space of 130 litres can fit your bags of groceries and carry your backpacks too!

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The 2016 MX-5 Roadster come in two variants: a 1.5L Roadster GSX starting at $40,995 and a 2.0L Roadster Limited starting at $46,995.

For more information please visit: https://www.mazda.co.nz/model/mx-5/soft-top/20l-petrol-limited