Article by Anthony Alaniz. Images courtesy of Mazda Worldwide.
I have a confession to make. Ugh, this is embarrassing… I’ve never driven a Mazda Miata. The closest I’ve gotten to one is during the Detroit auto show every year. And dare I still call myself an automotive enthusiast. I honestly don’t know how I’ve missed the MX-5 train to Awesomeville for so long, but somehow I have. However, after watching Mazda unveil the 2016 Miata last night in a multi-city event, I have to say I will change my roadster abstinence.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata is the staple of the automotive community, the roadster that redefined all roadsters for the modern era. Since it bowed in 1989, automakers have been trying to capitalize on the niche market Mazda had carved out for itself, though many, like the BMW Z3 and Z4 and Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky have failed.
Looking throughout the history of the car, other than its mere existence, it has only prioritized essential features found in previous sports car offerings. It wasn’t anything technologically revolutionary, but it was a melding of ideologies that would turn the Miata into a sensation. While the styling of the car has always been functional, it has been lacking in certain generations. In later iterations, the car received the Mazda smile, giving the car a very approachable design, however much it felt dull.
All that has changed for 2016. Other than looking like a mash up between a Jaguar F-Type and a Honda Prelude, with a bit of DNA from an Alfa or two, the Mazda looks damn good. The new car takes on a very contemporary appearance. The black windshield surround is standard and only adds to the two-seater’s apparent sleekness.
Mazda said it was aiming to take 200 pounds or more out of the car, putting it between 2250 and 2350 pounds to our estimates. Cutting weight is always a good thing in a sports car. Inside, the Mazda takes on the fit in finish of that found in other current offerings, particularly the 3. The stand-up display is present along with two USB ports on the console. There are also two pop-up cup holders that look like they couldn’t hold an empty cup of soda to save their lives. Granted, when you are in a Miata, drinking is the last thing you would need to do.
Such techno goodies like lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control could be offered. Two openings are visible at the top of the windshield for such sensors, but it is still unknown if those will be available on the U.S. spec car. The model shown at the unveiling was for the JDM.
Other details about the Miata are sparse—as in virtually non-existent. Some specs for the JDM model were leaked, which revealed that a Skyactiv-G engine and six-speed manual transmission are available. In the U.S., we are likely to get a 2.0-liter engine, which produces 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque found in the CX-5; however, it may produce more power and even be turbocharged—at least we can only hope. Other than those few tidbits of potential information, the takeaway from the reveal is that the car is not as tall, yet lower than its predecessor. Final power figures are still under wraps along with information regarding the mechanical bits. One thing many enthusiasts will enjoy is the four lug wheels, making tire changes a smidge easier.
This will play well with the fact that many older Miatas are picked up for racing. It is the leading spec-class car for racing in series like SCAA and NASA. It is the type of car that can be easily modified and taken right to the track because it is just that damn good outta the box. With Toyota/Subaru jumping in on the sports car action with the FR-S/BRZ in the last few years, it will be interesting to see how the new Miata competes with the other offerings as they become cheaper and are picked up for racing as well.
The more recent versions of the Miata have missed the mark on being as race-ready as its predecessors, which could allow the FR-S/BRZ to grab some market share. The new MX-5 is the automakers chance to hit restart and build a car that lives up to the roadster’s track-ready legacy. From what we’ve seen so far, the new Miata has a good chance of going toe-to-toe with the Toyobaru.
Mazda has had successes with all of its new offerings, from the CX-5 to the new 3, and the 2016 Miata continues that trend. The automaker is on a hot streak, and it doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. We know we can’t wait to get behind the wheel of one. Expect the MX-5 to go on sale sometime in summer of 2015. Start saving those pennies.