2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Sneak Preview

Automobile Staff
Bunker Bradley

When: Spring 2015
Why: Because we need a new generation of the purest mass market sports car extant.

In the parlance of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, there are some unknowns we now know about the fourth-generation Mazda Miata. Artists’ renderings speculating about the look of the next sports car have been too literally Kodo, the design language that defines the look of Mazdas 3 and 6, says a source familiar with the redesign, who does not work for the automaker.

Instead, the 2016 Mazda Miata will have clean, flowing lines that hark back to the 1990–96 MX-5. Due to the combination of modern pedestrian protection standards and evolving tastes, those heritage lines will not include the original’s pop-up headlamps, however.

What we do know
The new car will be lighter. The aluminum-intensive rear-wheel-drive Miata chassis that Mazda unveiled at the New York International Auto Show contributes to a 220-pound diet for the long-running roadster. Mazda’s promised weight reduction brings the mass of a base, softtop Miata to a projected 2260 pounds. The new car will also have dimensions more in line with the original, Mazda says. The 2006-15 Mazda Miata’s wheelbase is 2.5 inches longer than the 1990 model’s, and the car has grown 1.9 inches in overall length and 1.8 inches in width. The track is 3.2 inches wider in front and 2.7 inches wider at the rear.

Track and wheelbase are dimensions Mazda really doesn’t want to reduce, as they make up a car’s “footprint.” The larger the footprint, the more leeway in meeting strict 2016 and 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. Based on the latest spy shots, we can predict a slight increase in overall length, mostly in the hood and nose. The trunk should remain about the same length, to package the optional folding hard top. Expect a slight reduction in height to enhance the pure sports car look. Just a couple of inches in each direction will make the car look longer, lower and wider.

We also know from the spy shots that the current Mazda Miata’s five-lug wheels will be replaced with four-lug wheels.

Mazda’s promised weight reduction brings the mass of a base, soft top Miata to a projected 2260 pounds.

What we don’t know
The new Miata’s engine. We expect that the current 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder will be replaced with a Skyactiv direct-injected unit again with variable valve timing. Bet on a higher-revving version of the Mazda 3’s 2.0-liter, which makes 155 hp at 6000 rpm. The current Mazda Miata’s engine produces 167 hp at 7200 rpm (or 158 hp at 6700 rpm with the, ahem, automatic). That 167 hp is the figure a new 2.0-liter Skyactiv must meet, although because of the car’s weight reduction, we don’t expect much more power than that. Instead, the priority is to improve on the current Mazda Miata’s 21/28 mpg. Expect the five-speed manual to be shelved to make space for a six-speed manual as the base transmission.

What we hope
That our illustration is close, not just because we want to be right, but also because that makes for a design that will serve the car well into the ’20s. We don’t need a big screen in the center of the dash for a navigation system, nor a plethora of electronic driver’s assists. Plugging in a Garmin or a TomTom works in this tight space, and Mazda need not include a rearview camera until necessary, in 2018. Finally, there’s no reason for Mazda to spring for an expensive dual-clutch automatic. The six-speed manual will do.

What about the Alfa Romeo Spider?
Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has scuttled a Hiroshima-assembled, Miata-based, Fiat-powered roadster—for Alfa Romeo, anyway. It appears the car will be a Fiat-Abarth instead, launching in late 2015 and sold alongside the Fiat 500 in North America. It may be called “Fiat 500 Sport” or perhaps “Fiat 500 Sport Abarth.” It will need something other than a traditional Alfa grille, but most styling done for the Alfa should translate. Word is that Alfa was going to take the car without the hardtop option as one way to distinguish its version from the Mazda Miata; expect that strategy to carry over to the Fiat.

Mazda's design for its next Miata should be much cleaner earlier illustrations would indicate.

Jan van Rooyen
Girly car! My eye. It's the current spate of American muscle cars that cater for men suffering from penis envy and masculinity anxiety. The traditional British sports cars had low HP but true sports handling. They required real MEN to drive and enjoy them. Of this, Americans know nothing. Muscle cars are not sports cars. They are just bo-o-o-oring power machines. Men don't need that. Men want sports cars.
If they want to make this car a player, then they are gong to have to give it some real power.  Otherwise it will just be another niche car.   You can have a 170HP version for all the girly men out there, but if you want to cut into V6 Mustang and Camaro sales, you are going to need a 230 to 250HP version as well. If Mercedes can get 340 out of a 4, then Mazda should easily be able to pull this off.  People want power!!! Give the people what they want!  
John Salley
All these articles are about the Miata, but they don't mention the most exciting thing:  it is the FIAT version that will be the TRUE driver's car!The Abarth engine is a state-of-the-art racing engine with FORGED pistons, con rods, and crank, that is easily tuneable to 240hp in a couple of hours with bolt-on components!  Modifying the Mazda version to that level of performance won't be so easy!And my guess is that the Fiat Abarth verision will be more attractively styled, because, well, the Italians just draw the prettiest cars on the planet.
Pros - A focus on light weight and a return to simplicity Cons - The artist's renderings - they remind me of melted 1st Gen Z3
Can Mazda spin a coupe/fastback off of this platform?  Make it look like the Kabura concept and throw in a small turbocharger.  Call it the MX-7 and challenge the Toyobaru twins.
You know what a rotary does sound cool. Not much torque but boy can they spin. 8000-9000 Rpms maybe that is the way to go. It would renew interest in the Miata.
Jorge Mesa
The MIATA needs a Rotary Engine.PERIOD!Why doesn't Mazda see that?
Misegades calm down dude, you're gonna blow a gasket. I would like the Miata more if it had a lil more power. 220hp and say 200 ft lbs is not insane. You make my point even more when you say FRS power is "perfectly adequate". Corvettes and Miatas are apples to oranges by the way.
Benjamin A. Misegades
To all of the people talking about more horsepower, NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!! 
167hp in a sub 2300lb car is PLENTY. The 94-97 Miatas with less than 130hp are tons of fun to drive, 167hp would make it pretty quick.
220hp? 300hp? You folks are insane. The Miata was never a car meant to be a straight line competitor to a Corvette.
I'm still in awe how many people complain about the BRZ/FRS's supposed "lack of horsepower." I've driven the FRS and I found power to be perfectly adequate.
Turbocharging the Miata just adds more weight and expense.
Keep the projected 2260lbs, 160-170hp is more than enough, and keep it simple, no electronic BS. No navigation, no bajillion airbags, no electronic suspension, hell, give it manual windows and don't bother with ABS. Keep the starting price around 25,000.
Kyree S. Williams
Maybe in a special edition. The spirit of the MX-5 has always been about doing more with less. And if that isn't enough, I'm sure you could still do one of those infamous LS1 swaps...haha
Kyree S. Williams
Ryan Davies--I have to absolutely agree with you on that.
Ryan Davies
I don't know why the most recent gen MX-5 has received so much flack. I agree it should have been lighter, but the styling was more muscular and purposeful than the first two generations. The front fascia on this one looks pinched and weak. The tail looks fat and bloated. Overall, the whole thing looks dated, like a European roadster of the 90's.
Dennis San Vicente
...rendering still a girlie-look.
Ted Wong
Look like a S2000 to me
Jeff Kohl
Lets get current Mazda. Direct injection of course and turbo charge the darn thing. Its time to give us some power. 300+ to start!
Lee Klein
The drawing makes it look too much like the 1st gen SLK with a grafted on Mazda nose. That's hardly progress. I hope the drawing is off.
Samuel Rivard
It's way better than the 2013 Miata..
for sure need more horse power. just enough won't cut it. people buy the brz because it has more hp.I had the toyota MRS and it was light but lack of power cause me to rather sell it than keep it.you won't sell much of them if it's not a cheap thrill.
Vinny Aces
Not at all impressive...a fifth wheel in a market that's overcrowded /////
Tim Galian
Hope it looks nothing like that. I also hope it doesn't adhere at all with the Mazda design language. They mess that car up time and time again by screwing up the oval mouth to start... I'm ready for a third Miata Mazda!
How 'bout a turbo. Power is always just adequate. Nothing crazy just 220hp. Is that too much to ask?
Dakota King
Yeah my ass, it's not going to look like that.
Carey Thompson
Can't wait to see the real thing.
I agree with jmccool6969, the design doesn't excite me; Some other things that don't excite me:- "Plugging in a Garmin or TomTom?" This isn't 2005; how about integrating iPhone or Android? That's my biggest complaint with the 2010 I drive now. It has a 5 CD player - I've never used it; I haven't bought a CD in 15 years (I'm 58, btw)
-The article above makes it sound as though the trunk will be used to store the top, unlike the current model. I really hope that's not the case; why bother taking this car on a weekend trip if you can't put the top down?- I hope the added length goes to make the passenger cabin longer, I went from a 2002 to a 2010 where Mazda actually shortened leg room on passenger side. The car doesn't need a longer hood; it needs more cabin room.
You call that a sneak preview.  A cartoon drawing.  Might as well drawn in Fred Flintstone as the driver.
Cameron Cradic
Fugly rendering. Love my smiley 2012!
Matt Carter
The stance is not a miata stance. The high rear is not a miata. It's just another guess at what it will be.
Peter Stelman
Those illustrations make it look a generation out of date. The rear view looks like a "bustle back" BMW. Hope the real thing doesn't look as confused as this.
Ron Sinclair
Looks good. Definitely won't be mistaking it for anything else, either (like it had that problem before...LOL).
Why doesn't this drawing excite me?
Ryosuke Takahashi
Grille too small. Should look like the Mazda 6's.
Marc Hamady
I hope they give it 300 HP or more.
Jordan Jones
I hope the interior space grows.
Ryan Davies
I sure hope the illustrator is wrong. That thing looks terrible!
Mitch Fratzke
Wonder why they won't use the 2.5l? I know it's traditionally bigger and heavier than any Miata engine before it, but would it really throw off weight distribution that much?
Avi Neimatov
Looks like honda

New Car Research

our instagram

get Automobile Magazine

Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand price


new cars

Read Related Articles