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All-New 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Returns to its Roots

RMAutoBuzz

When Mazda introduced the original Miata for the 1990 model year, the car instantly racked up huge sales numbers and admiration from reviewers and drivers alike. Never before had a low-priced roadster offered such a winning combination of driving fun, excellent ergonomics, reliability and light weight. Over the last 25 years and three model generations, the MX-5 Miata has gradually grown in size, heft and luxury. The all-new 2016 model seeks to return to the glorious formula that made the first-generation car such a hit.

Smaller, Lighter, Quicker

In its most recent blitz of new products that has included the Mazda3 and Mazda6 sedans as well as the CX-3 and CX-5 crossover utility vehicles, Mazda has adopted a design philosophy it calls SKYACTIV. This holistic approach to engineering new platforms, engines and transmissions places lightness as a chief priority, adopting liberal use of high-strength steel, aluminum and composite materials to cut curb weights.

The 2016 MX-5 Miata is the latest beneficiary of SKYACTIV engineering. Mazda reached its development target of a 2,200-pound curb weight, right around the level of the original model-year 1990 car and trimming around 300 pounds when compared with the outgoing 2015 model. Lighter weight leads to better handling and braking performance while helping to improve fuel efficiency.

The new car is also markedly smaller than the one it replaces. At just 154.1 inches long, it is actually even shorter and lower than the first-generation model, looking positively tiny next today’s mammoth SUVs. A traditional canvass soft top will be the only option available at launch, although a power-retractable hardtop made a popular option on the outgoing car and is sure to be added down the line.

North American-market cars will get a 2.0-liter SKYACTIV direct-injection four-cylinder gasoline engine as standard equipment, although a less-powerful 1.5-liter four-cylinder will be available in Japan and some other world markets. Mazda has not yet released power figures for the new 2.0, but reports place it at around 165 horsepower, which should bring a 0-60 mph dash in about 6.3 seconds.

Oh, That Design!

Looking at the new MX-5 Miata from nose to tail, the car seems to sit impossibly low to the ground. Taking a 360-degree look around the compact roadster reveals an exterior design completely devoid of any sort of creases or sharp angles. Compared with the current MX-5, the look is much less bulbous, with a cohesive design ethos that makes it an instant classic.

The interior stays true to the Miata’s singleness of purpose as a driver’s car thanks to all switchgear placed within easy reach of the driver. The short-throw shifter for the standard 6-speed manual transmission – a 6-speed paddle-shifted automatic will be optional – fits nicely in the hand. With body-color interior door sills and accents, the overall look is more premium than before, but keeps the simplistic, unornamented nature that is the Mazda’s calling card.

Pricing and Availability

Look for the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata in dealerships just in time for Summer 2015. Pricing is expected to start at just under $25,000.

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