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Finally: 2016 Mazda Miata Revealed

September 4, 2014 by Matt

2016 Mazda Miata ND Red

Yesterday evening, in a live-streamed event featuring an appearance by ’80s New Wave group Duran Duran, Mazda finally pulled the wraps off its long-awaited 4th-generation (ND) MX-5 Miata.

Other than a claim that Mazda managed to trim the evergreen roadster’s curb weight by an eye-opening 220 lbs, as of this writing, hard numbers like horsepower, torque or even engine displacement haven’t yet been disclosed, so all we have to really discuss at the moment is the way it looks and speculate based on what we can make out in the photos provided.

Chris Paukert has a nice writeup over at Autoblog, and the successful concealment of the ND’s appearance up until its premiere last night—in itself an amazing feat in our digitally-interconnected age—means that discussion of the car has glutted the automotive interwebz over the past day, so I’ll just volunteer a few observations:

2016 Mazda Miata ND Red

  • My initial thought when I first saw the new Miata’s face was, “Oh no; they’ve regressed to the smiley faces of Mazda’s previous design language.” But when I consider the car’s stylistic lineage, it’s easier to appreciate its front end design: All generations of Miatas have had a friendly, somewhat anthropomorphic fascia. And as much as I pine for the 1st generation’s pop-up headlights to remove some of the “grin,” I need to resign myself to the fact that they’re never coming back, and shelve my opinions about cars with faces.
  • The biggest change to the car’s styling compared to the third generation’s is obvious in profile: No longer a symmetrical front-to-back “bar of soap” shape, the Miata now has proper hips and much more cab-rearward proportions, even if the actual placement of various components hasn’t moved much. Other than giving the car a healthy dose of visual aggressiveness—but still playful, mind you—the more pronounced rear fenders give me renewed hope that a coupe version of the car could really be in the works this time around. A fastback design would be much easier to reconcile if the car’s hips “met it halfway,” so to speak, rather than requiring it to plunge all the way to a nearly flat decklid like the third generation’s.

2016 Mazda Miata ND Red

  • Also bolstering my hope for a coupe is the fact that Mazda has been mum on the subject of whether the NC’s folding hardtop will return. It’s difficult to imagine the automaker touting the ND’s 200+ lb weight reduction and then adding it all back with a heavy, complicated origami roof mechanism. The hardtop version of the NC was, for all intents and purposes, the “coupe” version of that car, and if Mazda doesn’t retain the concept for the 4th gen, it’s natural to imagine something has to fill that niche in the car’s list of options. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
  • I agree completely with Paukert’s statement: “Largely free of adornments, I think this is a shape that will age well.” I love Mazda’s styling restraint with the new Miata, and the fact that they refrained from chintzing it up, instead letting the proportions do the visual work. The car will be instantly recognizable on the road—and that in a good way.
  • I wonder if the added bite of the ND’s looks will allow the Miata to once-and-for-all shed its popular image as a “hairdresser’s car?” As mentioned above, the styling expertly communicates a kind of lighthearted aggression, if you will, a rogue-ishness that may, with any luck, turn off the kind of folks who might buy a Miata for the same reasons one might acquire a toy chihuahua: For the image alone. With the departure—or at least attrition—of that group, maybe the 4th gen’s styling will allow the car to be seen more exclusively as a proper driver’s car by the general public? Hope springs eternal.
  • Image credits:

Filed under: Mazda, News


  1. Jack says:

    After looking at this car a couple times, I must say I am in love with the front and profile of the car, but that rear end needs to go. More specifically the tail lights, maybe I’ll change my mind when I see them in person, but for the time being they look atrocious.

    • Matt says:

      What don’t you like about them? Too thin? Busy?

      Mazda couldn’t maintain the same ovoid taillight design as previous generations because of the reshaping of the rear fenders, hence the switch to a more wedge-like shape. I like them; as has been pointed out, they have a bit of Jaguar XK and F-Type in them.

      • Jack says:

        They look too bulbous to me, I think the lines would have flowed a little more freely had they kept the tail lights a little thinner all the way through.

  2. Nic says:

    I really want to like this car… I love that Mazda shed a few pounds from the NC and I’m sure the ND is a hoot to drive, but the looks are not doing it for me. Let’s start with the front; the headlights are too small, and the grille screams RX-8. Never liked the looks of the RX-8, don’t want to be reminded of it every time I see an ND. Small headlights suggest that function was sacrificed in the interest of style, which should not be the idea with a Miata. I know this is silly, and that the size of the headlight is not directly proportional to how much light is emitted, but it bothers my irrational, subconscious inner car-guy. This, to me, earns the ND more hairdresser points, not fewer. Now on to the anthropomorphic rear fascia. It looks like a sad/shocked/appalled face with buck-teeth! The taillights are about the only thing I like about the rear, the rest just looks like a mess. The profile is handsome, but overall this design is a thumbs down. Maybe I love the NA too much, but it seems the Miata has gotten worse looking with each subsequent generation. When’s the facelift coming?!

    • Matt says:

      Thanks for the thoughts! I agree the nose is reminiscent of the RX-8’s, but I think it’s much better resolved. As much as I hate the Miata’s grinning grille, I think it’s with us to stay, and the best we can hope for is that Mazda doesn’t make it too cartoonish. The lines around the RX-8’s grille were fussy and didn’t meet properly; also the car’s proportions were way off on account of the presence of the rear doors. I think the ND is much, much more cohesive.

      That said, I really do wish Mazda has incorporated more of the 3/6/CX-5’s front end look. Those cars are very fetchingly styled and I wish there was more of a family resemblance.

      I love the NA too. I still think it’s the best-looking of all the generations, but then I have a soft spot for the pop-up headlights and more ’80s-ish styling in general.

  3. Ryan says:

    Matt, this probably won’t surprise you anyway but I’m one of those guys who has always thought the Miata was, as you put it, too “hairdresser’ish.” No matter how well it might drive or feel, it’s always just been too “cute.” And Mazda never made an “over-powered” version of it that might tickle my fancy and make me look past the subdued styling of it.

    BUT… this might be the first version that I could learn to like. It looks just aggressive enough to be a little manly and I actually like the new headlights and taillights. It reminds me slightly of an S2000. And thank goodness it doesn’t have the horrible “smile” front fascia from the Mazda3. Of course, paramount to me is how much power will Mazda give it. :) We’ll have to wait and see on that front. It’s probably not a car I will ever have in my garage but at least I might be able to appreciate why someone else might own one.

    • Matt says:

      As far as a hot factory Miata, about your only choice is the rare 2nd-gen Mazdaspeed Miata, the only one that came with a turbo. Mazda’s always kept the limits of the car pretty low; most enthusiasts (including myself) will say that given the choice, it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than to drive a fast car slowly, and that’s been the Miata philosophy for the 25 years it’s been around.

      That being said, as you probably know, the aftermarket tuning scene for the car is huge, and many bolt-on turbo kits exist for every generation. A boosted Miata is a seriously quick car; I’ve ridden in one and can attest to the fact that it will give most muscle cars a run for their money and be able to go around corners as well.

      Re:the ND (4th gen car), I can’t wait to see one on the road. Would love to check it out in the flesh. I have a feeling it will really shine.

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