2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring is Pure Driving Joy

It’s hard to believe that the year 1989 was first year of the Mazda Miata.  It has gone on to become the best-selling roadster of all time and on any given weekend there are more Mx-5 Miata’s being raced or auto crossed in events across North America than any other car.

Recently I had the opportunity to spend a whole week behind the wheel of the all new model which debuted for the 2016 model year.  This car is all about fun.  The all new Mazda MX-5 is a little smaller than its predecessor, weighs less and has a bit less power, yet it’s still as nimble, quick and fun as ever. Best of all, it has a newfound sense of refinement thanks to a modern interior inspired by the Mazda3, and an unprecedented focus on driver placement makes the new MX-5 comfortable even if you’re well over 6-feet tall.

Balance is the key to what makes the new Mazda MX-5 so wonderful to drive.. Since the original Mazda Miata, the MX-5 has never been a car for drag racing, or for maximum cornering loads, or any of the big-tire, big-engine shenanigans generally associated with Mustangs, Camaro’s or Challengers.

Instead, the new MX-5 carries on the tradition of offering enough power to be quick but not so much that the car’s a handful. The suspension is firm enough for spirited cornering, but not so harsh that it rattles your teeth. The steering is quick, and allows the driver to carve u  corners with ease.

The new Mazda MX-5 roadster has a simple, straightforward and modern interior. It’s similar to the new Mazda3, with an upright infotainment screen on the dash, push-button start on some models, and a surprising amount of soft-touch materials, considering last year’s hard-plastic everything. Mazda says it literally designed the car around the driver, and the MX-5 offers excellent steering-wheel, pedal and shifter placement. Despite the small size, it’s surprisingly accommodating for tall drivers, with a tilt steering wheel, and a convertible top that affords good headroom. There’s even a usefully sized trunk..

Hands down in my opinion this is the best looking MX-5 Miata to date.   The tiny headlights are LEDs, complemented by tail lights that look like miniaturized versions from the Jaguar F-Type. The profile keeps the classic long-hood/short-deck proportions.

All new MX-5 models come with LED headlights, push-button ignition, air conditioning, power windows and the  easy to use manual cloth top.   Cruise control is also standard, and the little steering wheel is packed with audio and cruise-control buttons. My Grand Touring test model also had leather upholstery and navigation. along with the excellent Mazda Connect infotainment system with its touch-screen display and multifunction knob, plus headrest speakers with Bose sound.

The only engine in the new Mazda MX-5 is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. It comes standard with an all-new 6-speed manual transmission, and even if you don’t know how to drive a stick, it’s worth learning just so you can enjoy this one.

The action is light, the shifts are short, and the clutch operation is simply the best.  I love the clutch and the short throw gearbox combination..  There is no other manual gear box like it until you spend a lot more money.  It reminds me of six figure Porsche gear boxes.  Yes you can get an excellent 6 speed automatic but this one vehicle that I recommend highly with the manual.

The 2.0-liter inline-4 puts out 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque.  Fuel economy is rated at 27 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. Despite its modest power the MX-5 does not feel slow in anyway.and for little over $31,000 loaded the MX-6 Miata is pure driving joy.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-RWD 6 speed Manual

Highlights

Styling

Simple layout

Manual Transmission

Lowlights

Could use a tad more power

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 9
Interior styling and quality 8

Handling 9

Braking 7
Fuel Economy 7
Stereo System 8

Performance 5
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 4

Navigation 8
Audio System 7

Zoom Zoom 2016 Maxda CX-9 Signature AWD Shines On Road.

 

By Bob Long

Over the 25 plus years that I been lucky to have a weekly press test vehicle to evaluate there are certain brands that have special place in my heart.  The Mazda brand has taken one of those spots as not only does the brand have a great lineup of vehicles all with sporting edge, but the folks at top of corporate ladder are true car people.

I have had the pleasure of interviewing folks like Mazda president Jim O”Sullivan dozens of times or VP Robert Davis also dozens of times. These are true car guys that live, sleep and eat Mazda.

I got extra drive time in the CX-9 Signature as the week I had the vehicle was the week Hurricane Mathew was moving into FL  With horrible forecasts predicting that this would be the ” Hurricane Andrew” for central Florida my wife and 6-year-old daughter fled to Pensacola FL to escape the storm and visit with fellow syndicated automotive  radio host Bobby Likis.

Our escape vehicle was the 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD that comes standard with just about everything you need and more.  Heated mirrors, a power liftgate with adjustable height stops, keyless ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alerts, and heated front seats are all standard. We were also were with treated with Nappa leather upholstery and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support (front passenger’s seat is four-way power). There is an 8-inch infotainment display and two USB ports in the second-row center armrest.

The CX-9 Signature trim also includes 20-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, LED foglights, automatic wipers, roof rails, a sunroof, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, rear parking sensors, frontal collision mitigation warnings, a heads-up display, driver seat memory functions, retractable sunshades for the middle row seats, aluminum interior trim, additional interior lighting, a navigation system, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, and satellite radio. If that’s not enough, LED accent lighting and rosewood interior trim finish out the range-topping Signature CX-9.

Stepping inside the CX-9 Signature reveals a cabin that is befitting of an entry-level luxury model. . The second-row seats are comfortable and offer lots of legroom for taller passengers. Passengers appreciated the pull down shades and the climate control vents for extra comfort.

The third row can seat two, but adults will feel tight, especially on longer trips. It’s well suited for the younger kids in the family, however. There’s 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. With the rear seats folded, capacity expands to 38.2 cubic feet. With both seats stowed, it opens up to 71.2 cubic feet.

The 2016 Mazda CX-9 puts the “zoom” into practical vehicles . If you want a mainstream 3-row SUV that is an adept family vehicle for school drop-offs and a rewarding personal vehicle for a spirited trip to the office or couples weekend getaway, this is it.
Like most Mazda vehicles, the CX-9 has long been the most athletic, fun-to-drive SUV in its class. That remains the case with the all-new version. The biggest difference is how Mazda’s 3-row SUV gets its motivation. Where the former version used a strong V6, this new model is powered by a small,hearty turbocharged 4-cylinder. Horsepower is down some, but torque is up translating into great off-the-line acceleration. Moreover, it’s more fuel efficient. The all-new Mazda CX-9 feels lighter, nimbler and even more athletic than its predecessor, while also boasting a quieter ride.

Thankfully, the new CX-9’s dynamic ways don’t come at the cost of a stiff suspension. T. Credit should also be given to the CX-9’s automatic transmission, a 6-speed that’s well-matched to this engine. Like other Mazda’s, this one has a Sport mode that optimizes the engine and transmission for zippier performance.

The front seats are roomy, and the area feels commanding thanks to a wide console. Nestled in that console is a rotary dial and auxiliary buttons controlling the CX-9’s standard dash-mounted infotainment display. I addition to receiving the SkyActiv treatment like the rest of Mazda’s lineup, the CX-9 now also gets Mazda’s “Soul of Motion” design philosophy emphasizing sweeping forms, organic shapes, and the idea of movement even at rest. The new CX-9 is striking from an exterior deign perspective.

That big grille up front adds to the premium cred, yet doesn’t seem overboard. The tapering roof and forward stance make this SUV appear smaller than it is, and even its rear is pretty thanks to a horizontal treatment of the taillights and rear lip beneath the window. A pair of integrated exhaust outlets further emphasize this SUV’s sporty nature.

The engine is impressive using a new SkyActiv 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that replaces the former 3.7-liter V6. This new engine has fewer horsepower than the outgoing one, but greater torque. Horsepower, you’ll see two figures: 250 HP running on premium 93 octane. Most drivers will opt for regular unleaded, on which the engine makes 227 horsepower.  Torque is the big story here the little powerplant churning out an amazing 310 lb-ft of torque.   EPA fuel economy is rated at 21 city and 27 for my AWD  test vehicle.  Price for the top line model comes in at  $44,915

The CX-9 was easy to drive, I especially liked the heads-up display that you can see even with your sun glasses on, unlike some more expensive European models. The infotainment system was very intuitive  with its rotary dial on the console.

The all-new 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature is a greatfamily transporter with a luxury feel and a little Mazda Zoom Zoom for the driver as well.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-AWD

Highlights

Styling

Comfort

Engine

On Road performance

Nappa Leather

Bose Sound System

Lowlights

Heated but not cooled seats

No CD player for CD fans

 

Scale 1 low-10 High

Exterior Styling 8

Interior styling and quality 8

Handling 8

Braking 7

Fuel Economy 9

Audio System 9

Performance 6

Trunk-Cargo Capacity 10

Navigation 9