The Mazda Miata is one of our all-time favorite roadsters because of the joy it brings to the driver. Its cute looks, though, have long been the butt of jokes from nay-sayers. When we named it our first Automobile of the Year in 1990, it wasn’t the Miata’s go-happy aesthetic that captured our attention— it was the car’s affordability and pure, engaging driving dynamics. When the next-gen Mazda Miata goes on sale in 2015, it might finally get some sporty looks to match its top-down motoring personality.
“It’s a tight edgy little car that is going to appeal to a broader range of people,” Miata chief designer Peter Birtwhistle told Auto Express at this year’s Geneva show. “We know the clichés about the MX-5 as it gets older, but this will position it differently. I think it’ll attract a lot of young guys.”
Birtwhistle also made a point to say that although there will definitely be traces of the Mazda’s latest Kodo design, as evinced by the Mazda Hazumi concept, the new Miata will continue its tradition as a standalone vehicle with its own identity and appearance.
Birtwhistle’s account of the new Miata’s styling underscores the same points we discussed with Mazda USA design director Derek Jenkins a few months ago at the 2014 Detroit show. “In general, with the new generation of cars, we try to inject a masculine quality,” said Jenkins.“I don’t use the word aggressive in the context of trying to make a beautiful car. We’re not trying to make something that’s a brute or something that’s hyper aggressive. It’s got to be balanced.”
While the Miata’s styling might get a bit more masculine, what won’t change is its lightweight character. As we previously reported, Mazda first aimed for a 2200-lb curb weight, but the final weigh-in will probably total just north of that goal, around 2400 lbs. “Of course, we want to keep it lightweight, but how do you take weight out of it?” Birtwhistle said to Auto Express.“For example, we wanted to have lighter wheels but we couldn’t find any accessory company that made lighter wheels than we did.”
Alfa Romeo will likely sell its own roadster on the new Mazda Miata’s platform, although Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne recently suggested that Fiat might step in and take hold of the project. As of now we have only spy shots of the new Mazda version, although the prototype is well disguised under current-generation paneling.