Originally published February 23,2016 on autoTRADER.ca

Mazda’s latest MX-5 is lighter, friskier and just as rear-wheel drive as ever, and though more shoppers than ever want convertibles they can use all year round, many Canadians would still see their copy of the latest Mazda roadster stored through the winter months, tucked away in a warm garage, and not out tearing up the roads, the way it was designed to.

When it comes to return on your investment of a new sports car, shoving that sports car into the garage for half the year just doesn’t add up. And though the 2016 Mazda MX-5 is light and slim, it turns out there’s little need to pull it off of the road once the cold weather hits. For a driving enthusiast brushed up on basic car control strategies, and willing to be active in their motoring, it’s a competent winter performer.

Will you be one of the thousands of Canadian shoppers seeking out a new convertible that’s suitable for year-round use? Are you planning to operate your new MX-5 in the dead of winter, on roads greasier than a triple-bacon supreme from Jean Guy’s Poutine Palace?

Here’s what you’ve got to know.

Winter Tires On: The MX-5’s factory-kit summer-tires could amount to suicide when used in the cold and snow, so plan to spend a few extra bucks for a set of quality winter tires. The tester’s Pirelli Sottozero winter boots impressed all around, and especially with abundant off-the-line traction, even on polished, hard-packed surfaces, and ice. With winter tires on board, MX-5’s array of traction-enhancing hardware and other systems had more grip to work with. Winter tires are the foundation for winter survival in this car, so don’t skip them.

Hill Launch Assist: By ‘freezing’ the pressure in the brake lines for a moment when drivers release the brakes on a hill, the MX-5 is kept from rolling backwards as the throttle is applied, making it easier to get moving again on a slippery uphill surface.

Though your writer experienced virtually no issues with off-the-line traction, getting the MX-5 moving from a stop, on a hill, in deep snow or on ice, can be challenging. Drivers are advised to brush up on their timing, slowing well before an upcoming uphill stop, and keeping a little momentum at play, so it’s easier to keep moving when the way is clear. If you’ll need to stop, try to do so while leaving one or both rear wheels on a higher traction surface, perhaps a patch of sand or exposed pavement, if possible.

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