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Adding an automatic transmission to your 2016 MX5 Miata will cost $1,075

Adding an automatic transmission to your 2016 MX5 Miata will cost $1,075

The new 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata production line for U.S.-spec cars switched on today in Japan, and with it Mazda made some pricing announcements for its classic sports car. If you're a huge fan, you can get one of 1,000 Launch Editions for $31,060. If you want the base Sport model, which will still have good stuff like Bluetooth, that will start at $25,780.

And if you want to ruin your new Miata, and make people question your judgment now and in the future, Mazda will charge you $1,075.

That is the upcharge Mazda collects for switching out the six-speed manual for a six-speed automatic transmission. In any other vehicle, there would be good personal, financial and yes, even performance reasons for choosing the self-shifting device. Electronic controls have advanced sufficiently that in most sports cars, the automatic is now the faster choice. The vast majority of customers prefer automatics; only 6 percent of new vehicles sold this year will come with a stick. And hey, we can't all use our feet like a race-car driver.

The Miata is an exception, perhaps the biggest one in the industry. Although the majority of MX-5 sold carry a proper shifter, a surprisingly large cohort are automatics, and by "surprisingly" I mean "nonzero." The whole point of a Miata is to maximize driving enjoyment at any speed, and nothing detracts from that quest quite like an automatic, no matter how smartly programmed. A slushbox Miata is the "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" sequel of the car world; it may help pay some bills, but no one's really lusting for its existence.

If you are among those who want a Miata, but for whatever reason think it should have only two pedals, know a few things up front. First, manual cars are far harder to steal. Secondly, the bias against auto Miatas extends to the used-car market; your depreciation will likely run more versus similar MX-5s, and it will be harder to sell used. Finally, if you're looking for an affordable two-seat convertible with an automatic, there's a good selection of alternatives, from the Mini Cooper to the Fiat 500. Choose your own adventure like you would choose your own gear - wisely.