In Japan, Mazda also loaded the MX-5 Miata with its advanced i-Activsense safety options. The technologies include blind spot monitoring, automatic high-beam control, lane-departure warning, adaptive front lighting and rear cross-traffic alert.
On the outside, the latest iteration is the first to get a globally unified design treatment, Yamamoto said.
In past generations, the exterior would be tweaked for local markets, such as adding side-turn lamps for Japan or Europe.
"We wanted to offer the same value to every customer worldwide," Yamamoto said. "They will all be the same."
Mazda hopes the fourth generation fans the roadster's fortunes.
Sales peaked globally at 75,798 vehicles in 1990, the year after the first generation debuted. North America MX-5 Miata sales hit an all-time high the same year, at 39,850 vehicles. By 2014, Mazda sold just 12,162 worldwide and only 5,410 in North America.
The global market for sporty cars, including the MX-5 Miata, bottomed out with the 2008 Great Recession, Kogai said.
Last year, he said, it totaled 400,000 cars worldwide, and Mazda forecasts segment demand to climb to 700,000 in 2017.
But inexpensive roadsters are still an endangered species. In 2014, U.S. sales of compact sporty cars -- which includes the MX-5 Miata, along with the Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ, Nissan 370Z, Porsche Boxster, Audi A5, Audi TT and BMW Z4 -- dropped 13 percent to 68,880 vehicles. The MX-5 Miata ranked fifth with just a 6.9 percent share of the tiny segment.
Many of its mass-market rivals from the 1990s and 2000s -- such as the Honda S2000, Toyota MR2 Spyder, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky -- no longer exist.
The redesigned MX-5 Miata is the sixth model in Mazda's lineup to get the full range of Skyactiv drivetrain and chassis technologies.
But it is the first application of the Skyactiv suite to a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. Configuring the new technology to the MX-5 Miata forced engineers largely to start from scratch.
The car already has one big fan: Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda. He sang its praises on May 13 at a news conference to announce a wide-ranging product, technology and manufacturing partnership with Mazda.
In the run-up to the deal, he test drove Mazda's cars and said the MX-5 Miata was his hands-down favorite.
"I really wanted to drive that car," the car-crazy Toyoda said. "That's a car I can really understand."
Mazda will build a version of the MX-5 Miata to be sold by Fiat. But Yamamoto declined to comment on whether Mazda was considering supply deals to other automakers, including its new partner, Toyota.