MONTEREY, Calif. -- Mazda, which has staked its future on making its cars lighter, more efficient and more fun to drive than their competition, on Wednesday revealed the purest execution of that strategy: a redesigned MX-5 Miata built with Mazda’s full suite of Skyactiv technology.
Mazda hosted simultaneous events in Japan, California and Spain to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the roadster and to unveil the design of the fourth-generation model, scheduled to go on sale next summer as a 2016 model.
The roadster is responsible for just 1 percent of Mazda’s global sales, with 14,000 units sold worldwide in the fiscal year that ended in March. But its nimble handling and back-to-basics design have found a small but fanatical fan base, turning it into a halo car for the small, now-independent Japanese automaker.
To satisfy the fans, Mazda will give the MX-5, as it is known overseas, a Skyactiv engine, transmission and chassis. The engines from that portfolio are rarely impressive in terms of horsepower, but they boast high compression ratios for efficient fuel combustion, while the Skyactiv chassis are light enough to help with fuel economy and handling but rigid enough to perform well on modern crash tests.
“In a lot of ways, [the MX-5] is the perfect encapsulation of what the brand is supposed to be about,” Ed Kim, an analyst at AutoPacific, said in an interview. “This is a brand that’s absolutely focused on driving pleasure and performance, but it’s not about blistering speed. It’s about a more efficient approach to performance.”