Mazda has revealed the latest update for its MX-5 Miata roadster, which goes on sale today in Japan. The Japanese-market car will score a new front fascia design, a new pedestrian safety feature, and some minor mechanical upgrades.
We recently saw leaked brochure images that previewed some of the visual updates to the Mazda MX-5 for Japan. A spokesperson told us that while the American-market MX-5 would be face-lifted in the future, they couldn't confirm whether the changes would resemble those on the Japanese car.
The Mazda's redesign begins with a new front fascia that has a larger, more pointed black mesh grille. The foglight housings and lip spoiler have also been tweaked. The MX-5 no longer has the "smiley face" front end that had previously dominated Mazda design, instead looking more like the sharp nose of the new CX-5 crossover. Models with the power retractable hardtop also have a new 17-inch wheel design. A paint color called Dolphin Gray Mica replaces the existing Metropolitan Gray Mica, and a new tan color is available for the leather seats.
Mazda will henceforth provide more distinction between soft and hardtop-equipped MX-5s with a few color differences. In Japan, the soft top model gets black-tinted headlight housings, dark gray wheels, black interior door handles, and dark gray gauge surrounds. The hardtop model, meanwhile, has all of those pieces painted silver instead.
Beneath the metal, Mazda has reprogrammed the engine computer on manual-transmission models for a more linear throttle response. The brake booster also has been modified to help drivers better modulate the car's braking performance. Mazda apparently reduced weight by carefully redesigning the 17-inch wheels, front bumper, and wiring harness.
The final new feature is the Active Bonnet. When sensors detect a frontal impact under certain conditions, the rear edge of the car's hood pop up a small amount. This creates more space between the hood and engine components, which is supposed to reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians struck by the car.
Although Mazda has yet to confirm it, we expect most of these revisions will be applied to the 2013 MX-5 Miata in the U.S. later this year. A Mazda spokesman told us today that for now these cars are only for Japan -- but wouldn't rule out the possibility of an updated MX-5 Miata in the U.S. at some point in the future.