Though company officials were tight-lipped about anything but the interior and exterior styling of the new 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata, it was clear even before Jalopnik reported it that the car would not have a turbocharger. A journalist for the online site got something this reporter didn’t: a quick look under the hood of the running preproduction, right-hand-drive, Soul Red model unveiled on a stage behind Monterey Regional Airport in California. Travis Okulski’s photo revealed no turbocharger under the hood. But the vibe even before the unveiling was that Mazda would stand firm on natural aspiration for its iconic roadster. The “teaser” video that made it sound like the ND Miata had forced induction was only that — a teaser.
When Mazda unveiled the ND MX-5 on a road where Miata faithful were gathering for a record photo attempt, the driver was so careful with the throttle that no one in the crowd could hear the engine. Bold prediction: It will sound like the NA, NB, and NC Miatas.
The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata’s weight reduction, to about 2260 pounds for a base model, might prove to be enough of a boost over the NC Miata’s performance. Mazda revealed an approximate mass reduction of 220 pounds last spring when it unveiled the car’s backbone chassis and Skyactiv powertrain at the New York International Auto Show. We’d speculate the ND’s engine is a version of the 2.0-liter DOHC Skyactiv four found in the Mazda3, though with horsepower more on par with the NC Miata 2.0-liter’s 167 hp than the ’3’s 155 hp.
Mazda will keep the weight down by selling the 2016 MX-5 Miata only with a ragtop. No power-retractable hardtop (PRHT) will be offered, at least for the first model year. A 2015 NC Miata with the PRHT weighs 2593/2619 pounds (manual/automatic) versus 2480/2511 for the current ragtop. (The PRHT is available only on the Club and the highly equipped Grand Touring trim levels.)
Both ND Miatas unveiled last week were painted Soul Red, Mazda’s new signature color, a metallic deep red used in Mazda3 and Mazda6 advertising. But the left-hand-drive model with 17-inch wheels was not a runner and journalists only got to sit in the RHD model with 16-inch wheels.
It has no power buttons for the ragtop. It does have a hard panel under the part of the top that fits against the header, which is the part that is visible from behind the seats when it is placed down. A Mazda insider revealed that the top is light enough to lower and lift quickly with one hand, without getting out of the car. Neither the insider nor any of the Mazda officials speaking on the record would say whether a PRHT would be added in subsequent years, though a hardtop — whether fixed, or retractable — certainly will be added for club racing.
Considering the hard panel, or panels sewn into the fabric top, chances are good that the PRHT — a slick design that raises and lowers quickly and, unlike on competitive cars, does not take any trunk space — lived and died with the NC Miata. Until now, speculation has been that the PRHT would be one of the differentiators — along with styling and powertrain — to delineate the Mazda Miata from the Fiat version scheduled to be unveiled late next year. We’ll keep you posted as other 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata details come to light.