Sports Cars > Mazda MX-5 Miata (4th Generation)
Mazda's iconic lightweight two-seat sports car might go by several different names; Roadster in its native Japan, MX-5 in Europe and other markets, and MX-5 Miata in North America, but one thing it has in common worldwide is popularity. Mazda has shifted over 940,000 MX-5s since it was debuted in 1989, and picked up over 200 industry awards along the way.
To say the all-new and fully redesigned and engineered 4th generation Mazda MX-5 Miata which debuted in 2016 was important for the company would be an epic understatement. Because while the car might only represent 1 percent of the company's sales, it's the company's most iconic model, and currently it's the closest thing Mazda has to a halo model.
The new MX-5 - given the generation designation ND (following on from the previous NA, NB and NC models) - was styled using the Mazda's current design language KODO "Soul of Motion". According to the company this means trying to capture the essence of when energy becomes motion. For example, the instant the muscles tense on a cat just before it pounces. That might sound a bit tacky, but if it helps produce cars like this, who cares? The new MX-5 Miata has a more sinister and serious look about it than the three generations which have come before it. It also gives the impression of being more upmarket and of a slightly higher quality in terms of construction. It has a much larger front grille, squintier headlights and a lower, wider stance. Overall it's a clean, uncluttered design, and one which should age quite gracefully.
Something which has always been a big plus point for the MX-5 is its simplicity. Mazda always stuck to the same formula of a punchy but not overpowered 4-cylinder engine up front, manual transmission (auto optional), and rear-wheel drive. They've never overloaded it with too much in the way of electronic driver aids, and they've always tried to keep the weight down. As always though, changes to regulations has meant that over successive generations the MX-5 has increased in weight. But surprisingly the fourth-generation MX-5 Miata is reversing that trend, coming in at over 220 lbs (100 kgs) lighter than the previous car. Mazda say the weight reduction was achieved through a number of factors, but changing some steel components for lighter aluminium ones was the primary source of the reduction in mass. Interestingly the 4th gen MX-5 will also be the most compact iteration yet, measuring 154.1-inches (3915mm) long, 68.1-inches (1730mm) wide, 48.62-inches (1235mm) high and with a wheelbase of 91.1-inches (2315mm). That makes it a full 4-inches (105 mm) shorter overall than the 3rd gen car, while losing just over half and inch (15mm) in its wheelbase. Other engineering points of interest include; electric power steering, double wishbone front suspension, multilink rear suspension, ventilated front discs and a choice of either 16 or 17-inch wheels.
Powering the 2016 Mazda MX-5 is a choice of two (depending on the market) longitudinally-mounted SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder engines, including a 1.5 litre and a 2.0 litre models. The engine is mounted well back in the chassis for optimum weight distribution, 50:50 in fact. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, while a 6-speed automatic is offered as an option.
The 1.5 litre engine produces 129 horsepower and 150 Nm (111 lb-ft) of torque, and offers a 0-62 mph time of 8.3 seconds. The 2.0 litre engine develops 158 horsepower and 200 Nm (148 lb-ft) of torque and is a second quicker to 62 mph coming in at 7.3 seconds.
The cabin is a significant improvement of the previous car, both better equipped and with superior materials. The three-spoke multifunction steering wheel sits in front of an analog and digital combination instrument panel. A large infotainment display screen sits awkwardly in the center of the dash above the air conditioning controls - one of the few criticisms of the car. There is also improved phone connectivity - thanks to the company's latest generation Mazda Connect (MZD Connect) system. Two USB charging ports and more storage areas make the car a little more practical, while speakers mounted in the headrests are designed to help maintain audio clarity even with the top down. The lower hood, coupled with slightly thinner A-pillars, means the driver has a better view of the road.
YEAR OF SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 -
ENGINE: 1.5 litre of 2.0 litre 4 cylinder
TRANSMISSION: 6 speed manual or auto RWD
MAX SPEED: -
0-60 MPH: 8.3 or 7.3 seconds depending on engine
HORSEPOWER: 129 hp (1.5 litre) / 158 hp (2.0 litre)
WEIGHT: 1,058 kgs / 2,332 lbs (manual version)