Mazda to unveil its third-generation MX-5 Miata at Geneva
By Natalie Neff
Sixteen years and 700,000 units ago, Mazda launched its back-to-basics Miata onto a roadster-hungry public. And while the aging two-seater, last redesigned in 1998, still finds favor among legions of driving purists the world over, Mazda felt that it was about time to give the fun little sports car a much-needed makeover.
This third-generation car, which debuts in early March at the Geneva motor show, will draw power from a new 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder, up from a 1.8-liter engine in the Miata today. The bigger engine will turn out about 20 more horses as well, reaching upward of 160 hp. The torque climbs to about 140 lb-ft.
Shifting duty will fall to one of two six-speed units, either a manual or automatic with a shift-it-yourself-via-paddles option.
Physically the Miata has grown in just about every measurable dimension, with a 2.6-inch longer wheelbase, as well as a 3.0-inch wider front track and 2.1-inch wider rear track. Overall length and height have increased nominally, each by just 0.8 inch, but the Miata is now measurably wider, by 1.6 inches.
That extra width comes courtesy of a departure in styling for the little roadster, which for the first time abandons its characteristic Coke-bottle shape for a more RX-8-like design, complete with flatter flanks and bulbous front fenders. The additional space afforded by this move not only benefits passengers with more hip and shoulder room, but also allows for the addition of side-impact airbags.
Look for a more complete review of the new Miata closer to the carâ€™s on-sale date, which Mazda says will be sometime later this year.