The Mazda Miata debuted 25 years ago, and quickly became the convertible sports car for the working class.
It has seen a long and faithful following, and despite the humble badge, continues to ingratiate itself to those who place pure driving pleasure above snob appeal.
Throughout its four generations it remained a pure drivers car, meaning engine out front, power to the rear, 50:50 weight balance, two seats, and no roof.
The joy of the Miata is its simplicity, its pure focus on its purpose, to make you smile.
Have you ever seen a Miata driver with a frown? I didn’t think so.
For 2016 Mazda has done it again, they have taken a great car and made better.
First off, just look at it!
From every angle the 2016 Miata just looks right.
Second, the feel of the thing.
The best way to judge a sports car, is by the way it feels.
The Miata has always provided an intuitive response to your inputs, there is a crispness to gear changes, the vibrations felt through the steering wheel and the seat enable you to reach the limits of the cars handling without going to far. That is a quality sorely lacking in most of the overwhelmingly powerful and over priced sports cars out there.
That last quality speaks to the third reason the Miata has been such a success, its accessibility. Few sports cars offer performance that can truly be enjoyed by anyone.
And I am not just referring to the price, although that helps, but to the balance between the power and chassis.
Even a driver of limited experience can enjoy the full driving experience, coming away a better driver, not having crashed.
Just think back to the way Porsche’s from 25 years ago, seemed intent on killing the driver, not the Miata, it just wanted to make you grin.
Enhancing the latest model, is a light weight design that has cut 100kg off an already svelte car.
This was achieved by making the hood, trunk lid, front fender and front and rear bumper reinforcements out of aluminum, also the weight of the soft top was reduced.
The engine has been moved back, closer to the center of the car helping to lower the center of gravity.
With a double-wishbone suspension in the front and multilink suspension in the rear; as well as a brake system designed to maximize control and deliver plenty of power, the drivability and handling should prove to be second to none.
This is a car designed to be enjoyed with the top down. To that end it features headrest speakers, a soft top that can be operated while remaining seated, and plenty of wind control, to protect the occupants from dreaded convertible hair.
By including new technologies like Proactive Safety and Mazda Connect, I hope the new Miata will attract a broader audience, thereby reminding the world that driving is so much more than just a task.
Over the past 25 years, the Miata has continually won such awards as, “Best sports car under $50,000”, “Car of the year”, and “10 best cars”, from automotive institutions such as Car and Driver.
With the gorgeous new lightweight body, the 2016 Miata will most certainly keep to the tradition of being the embodiment of a pure driving machine, even if the badge remains a humble one.