1990 Mazda Miata (NA)
Mazda's lovable Miata roadster debuted 25 years ago. On hand at the debut of the next generation was the 15th production Miata ever built.
2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata under wraps
The new Miata waited for us, teasing from beneath its cover.
The 2016 Miata's unveiling took place at a "secret location" in Monterey, California -- not too far from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The event was live-streamed on Mazda's YouTube channel and live-tweeted by all in attendance.
The ND revealed
Not much time was wasted before the MX-5 burst onto the stage.
2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata
The new model will be the fourth generation of the Miata, code-named ND by Mazda engineers and fanboys.
Ladies and gentlemen, Duran Duran!
After a little talk about design, English rock band Duran Duran entertained attendees.
Kodo: Soul of Motion
The ND Miata utilizes elements automaker's Kodo design principles. While you'll recognize many of the design cues from the Mazda6 and Mazda3, the Miata's design is largely unique.
Tapered rear end
The rear end has a tapered design and the deck lid has been raised in the center to aid aerodynamics.
It's no surprise based that the Miata retains its front-engine/rear-drive architecture, but Mazda was surprisingly tight-lipped about the engine and any other specs.
You can barely tell that it's there, but a single character line rises from the door sills and up over the rear fenders.
Mazda Director of Design Derek Jenkins tells us that the MX-5's sides have purposely been left nearly devoid of creases both because the Miata is so small and as a sort of homage to the simple design of the first generation.
The MX-5's windshield hoop has been painted black to help accentuate the roadster's low-slung design.
The curvaceous new roadster reminds me at times of a more futuristic version of the second-generation (NB) Miata, with hints of Jaguar F-Type and Honda S2000.
Where most of Mazda's lineup is moving away from the smiley face, the MX-5 retains the third-generation's open mouth.
The new Miata is wider and lower than the previous model -- nowhere is that more obvious than at the nose, which dips toward the ground. Overall length, however, is about the same as that of the third generation.
The front fenders rise sharply over the wheel wells before dropping back down onto the hood. In the center of the hood, a slight bulge allows the sheet metal to clear the engine.
Jenkins stated that the new roadster had "technologies" in place to help it to meet pedestrian-safety standards, despite its deeply dipping front end.
Full LED illumination
In an effort to keep the housings small, Mazda uses full LED illumination for the headlamps, accents, and daytime running lights.
Final specs haven't been confirmed, but the Miata will be available with optional 16- and 17-inch wheels.
Later in the presentation, we were given a peek at the MX-5's new "more aspirational" interior.
Simple, but updated
Mazda wants to move the Miata upmarket, but also doesn't want to alienate the enthusiasts and purists who just want to keep the roadster simple and spartan. We'll see how well it has done.
One of the first things that I noticed was the 7-inch display sticking out of the dashboard like a piece of bread in a toaster. Mazda tells us that the new MX-5's tech will be on par with the Mazda3.
New tech is coming
This means we'll probably see Bluetooth, app integration, available navigation, and more. What I didn't see when peering around the MX-5's cabin was a CD slot. There are, however, a pair of USB ports and an SD card reader at the base of the center stack.
The screen should be touch-sensitive, but the driver can also interact with the system via a physical controller on the center console.
Just ahead of this controller near the shifter is a Sport mode toggle. Shouldn't the MX-5 always be in Sport mode?!
Color-matched interior panels will be grade-specific options, but Mazda is hesitant to give more details about pricing or trim levels.
LED tail lamps
Like the headlamps, the tail lights are full LED illuminated.
Skyactiv construction should net the MX-5 a weight loss of about 220 pounds over the previous generation. That should mean it weighs about 2,200 pounds.
The steering wheel also gains a few more buttons.
Where previous Miatas used a two-gauge instrument cluster with equal sized speedo and tachometers, the ND has a three-gauge configuration with an enlarged center tachometer.
Despite the new tech, the MX-5's cabin still looks like it has retained its simple, driver-centric charm.
I am, however, a bit concerned about that weird BMW Z4-like cup-holder hanging off of the center tunnel.
Here's another look at the first-generation model's cabin for comparison.
More to come
Today's unveil was all about styling with little to no mention of specs, tech, or performance, but we expect to learn more in the coming days. Stay tuned.