Mazda’s MX-5: The Lightweight Champion

 

Though it’s a glorious indulgence and a feat of engineering, there are two valid negatives on the BMW M4: It’s pricey (from $72,500) and heavy (4,055 pounds). Even if one of those is a deal-breaker, don’t ditch your drop-top dreams just yet. Turn your attention to Mazda’s revamped MX-5.

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Despite added safety tech (and more power), the car takes on the basic dimensions and heft of its 1989 debut. The Miata’s fourth-generation model starts at under $25,000 and hits the scales at 2,300 pounds. Why should we care? Because the lighter the car, the less force needed to make it go — or stop — quickly and, generally speaking, the more enjoyable it is to toss around turns.

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The MX-5’s engineers strategically swapped in aluminum parts for steel in spots, while eliminating other inefficiencies along the way, resulting in a 150-pound drop from the outgoing model. As a result, the relatively modest two-liter, 155-horsepower motor should provide just enough zip, while better balance front-to-back and a lower center of gravity should get it closer to the primal, direct dynamics of a go-kart. And though the MX-5’s compact size and sprightly looks won’t ever communicate a sense of gravitas, this redesign is the sharpest-looking Miata yet, lower and wider, pinched-looking and meaner, too. But it’s not just a ride for purists. For the first time, you can opt for a seven-inch nav screen, with Bluetooth and a nine-speaker sound system. There’s also an impressive array of safety tech like blind-spot monitoring, a lane-departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alert — though if you’re driving the MX-5 as intended — top down — you shouldn’t have much use for them.