By  Nitish S. Rele

Since its debut in 1989, more than 950,000 units of the “Best-Selling Two-Seater Sports Car” have been sold. With a total redesign for its 2016 model, we expect the Mazda Miata MX-5 to hit the one million mark fairly soon. Really, no tribute can be enough for the charmer. Even after 26 years (who’s counting?), top-down motoring enthusiasts have a blast going down the highway or tackling the daily driving rigors in this fine, tossable convertible.

Power is derived from a 2.0-liter DOHC inline-4 cylinder engine, which makes 155 hp (previous was 167 hp) at 6,000 rpm and 148 lbs.-ft. of torque at 4,600 rpm. The 6-speed manual delivers flawless shifts. Guiding the sprightly rear-wheel-drive car is a new double-pinion power-assist steering. The even-lighter soft top can be folded manually with little effort.

Recently, we had the opportunity to test drive this legend on the winding and hilly roads of southern California. It is lighter (150 lbs.), more fuel efficient (36/27 vs. 28/22 for AT) and faster, with extra head and leg room. Starting at $24,915 (Sport), $28,600 (Club) and $30,065 (GT), the Mazda marketing folks pointed out that it is more affordable when counted for inflation. We will take their word for it.

Exterior tweaks include extensive use of the stiffer high-tensile steel, longer hood with the windshield pushed back, shorter roof, lowered nose and hood height, enhanced trapezoidal stance, tapered rear fenders and inward-pushed LED headlights that convey a piercing look. Step into the cabin and the driver now drops farther down and closer to the car center, expanded head space and a smaller steering wheel with a boost in tilt range.

The revamped MX-5 transforms into an even more exhilarating and entertaining car to drive. Open-air motoring fans will be in awe of its snappy acceleration, impressive handling and admirable fuel economy. Cheers to the world’s best-selling roadster. You can test drive the MX-5 at Ferman Mazda of Brandon, located at 9808 Adamo Dr. in Tampa. For more information visit:

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