autofieldblog 2015 Car of the Year: 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Let’s face it: there are a number of really good cars launched in 2015.

Let’s face it: there are a number of really good cars launched in 2015. There were many that really moved the proverbial bar higher—indeed, almost to a higher plane.

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The 2016 Toyota Prius is certainly a car that will carry on the heritage of that proverbial name: there were many that thought that the Prius was nothing more than a gimmick, yet here it is, the fourth generation and the world’s competitors are chasing that hybrid vehicle.

The 2016 Honda Civic brings back the “Civicness” that was long a key factor in making the car so successful. Honda had cracked the code on building a car that was small(er), fun to drive whether you were going to get groceries or had tuned it for a little something extra, and comparatively economical without seeming as though it was an exercise in seeing how much content could be taken out of the car before it seemed as though it was something that you’d buy at a place called “The Dollar Car Store.” Then they lost the key to the code. And now, with this all-new, 10th generation vehicle, they’ve had the cryptographers working overtime to good purpose.

The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is another all-new entry. The engineers that went at this car did so with a zeal that seems to have been overlooked of late. Sure, they were making a midsize family sedan, not a Stingray or a Camaro, but it almost seems as though they reckoned that if cars like those two could be in a Chevy showroom and if there are people who actually need cars with a usable backseat, then they ought to make a car that can hold its own with its more exotic brethren. It is a really fine car.

And there are more.

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Yet the autofieldblog 2015 Car of the Year is the Mazda MX-5 Miata. This is the fourth generation of the two-seat sports car. The original car had its world debut at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show and it immediately captured the imagination of those who were looking for a car that had fundamental levels of performance which contributed to an overall, essential driving experience, not just something that would go fast in a straight line.

Over the years, the car changed and got somewhat bigger and more bulky (yet was still diminutive by what was going on with many other vehicles).

This time, the team responsible for the Miata went back to creating a car that is light, capable and stylish. A no-apologies sports car. The 2016 Miata is 150 pounds lighter than a generation three car and merely 182 pounds heavier than the original. (Think only about the safety requirements that have come into effect since model year 1990 to 2016, to say nothing of technology expectations that have come into play that add mass.)

The 2016 Miata is modern, comfortable (yes, the seating is remarkable), performance-capable, and comparatively impractical.

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So why is it the autofieldblog Car of the Year?

Because rarely does a car that is such a pure expression of design and engineering that you’d actually like to drive get produced that have a starting price of $24,915—even at twice the price it would be a phenomenon.

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