Few cars in the history of motoring can truly claim to have reached legendary status; the Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of them. Already the biggest selling roaster of all time, the little Japanese pocket rocket has a wealth of admirers across the world thanks to its affordability, fine handling and cheeky looks, and basically redefined the open-top sports car when first released. Echoing the classic British designs of the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Miata captured the imagination of American buyers with its unbreakable drive train, affordability and the promise of open-top motoring that would be fun and exciting, and all incarnations have been very pleasing indeed.
The first thing to say about the new Miata is that it takes its styling cues from some stunning Mazda concept cars; concepts are used in general to garner public reaction, and both the Shinari and Takeri – two of the most recent from Mazda – have influenced the Miata. It is no bad thing, either, for while the resemblance to the original – and its successors – remains, there is a notable shift towards a more aggressive, distinctive style that gives the new model an identity all of its own. This is a real sports car, after all, and it needs to look like one to offer the relevant appeal to buyers. What Mazda has done with this little gem is, throughout its life, keep the basic template and bring it up to date, and this version is the most comprehensive change so far.
Lighter and Faster
One of the enduring aspects of the Miata’s appeal is that it has always been a lightweight car; the balance achieved with the front engine, rear wheel drive layout is almost perfect, affording superb handling and great performance from a small and economical powerplant. The new model features a turbocharged, 1.3liter four cylinder engine that is proven in other Mazda models, and with 167bhp on tap matches the outgoing version. The combination of its lightness and ample power makes for an exciting prospect, and it is unheard of to find an unhappy or unimpressed Miata driver. The new car is also notably lighter than its predecessor, by an impressive 300 pounds. That should make some difference in terms of performance and handling ability.
Who Will Buy It?
The appeal of a Miata has always been across the board; it is enjoyed equally by men and women, by young and old, and anyone who has never driven an open-top sports car with rear wheel drive and this level of balance will come away from their first experience wanting one – it really is that much of a thrill. The Miata was built for fun, as opposed to practicality, yet there is room for enough luggage to enable two people to enjoy a weekend away, and it is just as happy on the open road as it is in the city. Therefore, the potential market is practically endless, as the previous models colossal sales figures have already proven. Make no mistake, the Mazda Miata will sell, and there is no end to its enduring popularity.
Very Little Competition
It is a fact that small, affordable open top sports such as the Mazda Miata are thin on the ground; the little roadster really does have very little in the way of competition, especially at the projected price of $25,000. There are no longer comparable British sports cars – perhaps the new owners of MG will start producing seriously an bring a contender to the table – and the only real new options are the Subaru BRZ, which is actually in a different class of vehicle, and the quirky Scion FR-S. In fact, it has been posited by industry commentators that the only real competitor to the new Miata is the old one, in used form. This is a fair point, for these cars are built to be indestructible, and many thousands of older models are available at very low prices indeed.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata has been a worldwide sensation and runaway success since its inception, and while some have made slightly unfavourable noises about the looks of the new version, the basic essence remains the same. This little car is living proof that on doesn’t have to spend great deals of money to enjoy the thrills of a sports car; for the cost of a family sedan you can have the wind in the hair thrills of sporting motoring in one of the finest handling cars on the road today.