Mazda MX-5 Miata: 2016 Car of the Year Nominee

When the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata came out about half a year ago, we were freaking out because it was so good, but is our love affair with this roadster still going strong?

All new for the 2016 model year, the Miata gets two huge upgrades: The first one is that it finally looks like a real sports car and not a smiling Pokemon. The second big change is that it weighs less, which is great because the roadster didn’t exactly have a weight problem to begin with.

Powered by a 2.0L four-cylinder with 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque being fed to the rear wheels, it doesn’t look that impressive on paper and it actually has less horsepower than the Miata it replaces. But when you factor in how light and engaging the car is, it really does feel faster than its spec sheet would suggest. The Miata doesn’t need more power. Honest. It’s definitely not fast, but it is mighty nimble, feels wonderful to drive quickly, and you don’t need to be a pro race car driver to really get the most from this car. The car is precise, responsive and uncomplicated.

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No, the Miata isn’t the most practical car on our list and its tiny trunk and two-seat format mean there aren’t going to be any trips to Home Depot or road trips with your friends. The Miata does have downsides, especially if you have winter to deal with, but roadster drivers know that this is the price of entry.

The Miata has always been favoured by drivers for always delivering on a straightforward goal: Simple motoring fun. This fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata is all sorts of good with a stylish new look, a slick manual shifter, and of course, a beautiful and balanced chassis that hits all the right notes. But is that enough to make it our winner? Stay tuned. We announce our 2016 Car of the Year on Dec. 15.