Text and photos by Emily Chung
I review a lot of family-friendly vehicles and the 2016 Mazda MX-5 definitely doesn’t belong in that category. This spunky roadster is what I call a ‘sanity-friendly’ ride, when you just need some peace and quiet… there’s no room for backseat passengers!
The Mazda MX-5 is beautifully sculpted with sharp angles, raised outer edges on the hood which add to its aggressive look, fluid lines, and blunt nose. It’s unmistakably the MX-5. I love that the design is consistent – have a look at the front bumper.
The front headlamps continue with sharp angles and bright LED lights.
Our GS Sport Package came with Brembo front brakes and 17” forged alloy BBS wheels – four bolts, I know… it’s rare!
One thing I absolutely love about the MX-5 is the detail of the paint trim inside the doors. When the top is down, it gives a continuous look in terms of the MX-5’s exterior colour.
The dash and centre stack is minimal, and that’s the point. Nothing fancy and only what is necessary, all within easy reach. I love it! The infotainment screen is like a tablet and isn’t built into the dash so it doesn’t feel like a bulky interior.
The instrument cluster gets a bit busier and its design resembles other Mazda vehicles. The steering wheel integrates a few buttons for cruise control, phone, and infotainment options – nothing overly distracting.
The MX-5 that I tested kept it simple – conventional climate control, big knobs that you can also push to turn on the A/C, recirculating air, or defrost the rear window.
The GS Sport Package also comes with Recaro seats and Alcantara-trimmed upholstery. The Mazda MX-5 has a sporty feel to begin with and these features just made the drive that much more enjoyable.
The convertible is easy to open – yes, it’s manual but just pull the latch and fold the roof back. Putting the roof up is the same way, pull the latch and secure roof. Super simple to do and without much effort. You can bask in the sun quickly!
Mazda’s infotainment system is my favourite because when you’re driving, it doesn’t require you to take your eyes off the road to use it. Once you get used to the commander button, located next to the shifter, you can navigate around the menu without looking at the screen. However, it is a touchscreen in case you’re more accustomed to operating that type of display.
Under the Hood / Basic Maintenance
Overall, the engine bay is quite compact and important maintenance components are easily accessible. The engine oil cap, dipstick, battery, and washer fluid reservoir are up top and visible. The coolant reservoir is tucked closest to the hood latch, and you have to read the ‘full’ mark from the side.
If you need to jump start the Mazda MX-5, you can access a ground at the strut mount near the battery. Very handy.
The Mazda MX-5 has a compressor and sealant in the trunk for you in case you have a flat tire. This little car doesn’t come with a spare tire. It’s easy enough to use, but I recommend reading the owner’s manual ahead of time (before you get a flat tire) to find out how to use the compressor and sealant.
Child Car Seat
Infant child car seat? Nope, don’t even think about it. Ok, well that’s my personal recommendation with the MX-5 but you could technically install a rear-facing child car seat as well as a booster. Since the Mazda MX-5 doesn’t have an anchor installed for the tether strap, you can’t secure a forward-facing child car seat properly (it’s mandatory in Canada to use the tether strap).
When it comes to rear-facing child car seats, push the vehicle’s seat all the way to the back. There isn’t any LATCH system so you’ll need to use the MX-5’s seatbelt, which has an ‘automatic locking’ mode. To activate this mode, pull the seatbelt strap out entirely and slowly let it retract – you’ll hear the mechanism click and this confirms its activation.
For booster seats, ensure that the vehicle seat is pushed all the way back.
When your child is placed in the car seat, confirm that the ‘passenger airbag off’ light is on. In the event of a collision, the airbag for the passenger will not deploy – which is what we want for young children.
Storage / Trunk
The trunk has a sunken floor which could fit a couple of grocery bins. I was able to lay a few shopping bags as well as my laptop case on top of it. Although there wasn’t much room, I could definitely run my usual errands through the week – no problem.
The glovebox placed between the two seats is lockable, and sits just above the CD player. It’s big enough to hold the owner’s manual, sunglasses, and other small personal items.
The MX-5 gets creative with its cup holders, giving you two moveable ones. You can fit two side by side just in front of the glovebox, although it’s not very convenient to reach for your drink. When it’s just you driving the car, you can insert a cup holder next to the shifter. It does take up a bit of space from the passenger area.
The Mazda MX-5 is one of my favourite cars, it’s incredibly nimble and a lot of fun to drive. Best of all, it’s a great way to get some alone time – just you and the open road. At the time of writing the 2017 Mazda MX-5 is available starting at $31,900 CAD.
2016 Mazda MX-5 GS Sport Package
2.0L 4-Cylinder Engine
6-speed Manual Transmission
Premium Unleaded Fuel
Seating Capacity: 2
Road Test Terrain: 60% City, 40% Highway
Tested MSRP: $41,795 CAD
Emily is a wife and mother of two boys. As a mechanic, she’s busy managing her business (AutoNiche – an auto repair shop in Markham, Ontario) and working on cars as a licensed technician. Emily is a Certified Child Car Seat Technician and has appeared on Breakfast Television, the Marilyn Denis Show and Yummy Mummy Club TV. She is passionate about her work; together with her staff, AutoNiche’s purpose is to bring better communication and client service to the auto repair experience.