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LIVE: Mazda unveils 2016 MX-5 Miata

by Ben Hsu

The fourth-gen Miata is a stunning and more aggressive evolution of the iconic roadster.

Mazda unveiled the latest iteration of its iconic sports car, the 2016 MX-5 Miata, in a simultaneous debut that took place in Tokyo, Barcelona, and Monterey, California.

The Hiroshima-based automaker did not give drivetrain specs or interior volume numbers, but perhaps all that is irrelevant because the world's best selling roadster enters into its fourth generation true to is lightweight and sporty roots. What Mazda can confirm is that it remains front-engined and rear-wheel-drive and that it is approximately 220 pounds lighter than the outgoing version, meaning it should tip the scale at about 2,200 pounds.

The car unveiled in California was a close-to-production-ready prototype designed to introduce the production model's design. The most striking feature is that it's closer to the ground than the current model. The fenders rise up into two peaks with a deep valley of a hood in between. The nose is also very low to the ground, the end product of a steep slope that begins aft of the front wheel centers.

The rear haunches rise over a low beltline and taper sharply towards the rear. The taillights are close together, and despite a passing resemblance to those of the Jaguar F-Type, it is highly likely Mazda's were in development before the Jag was released. Mazda North America design chief Derek Jenkins said the tail lamps were inspired by the round elements within those of the first-gen Miata.

The window frame will be kept black, a move designers felt gave the car an air of lightness and steeper rake. What does retain body color, however, are trim pieces on the interior door panels, a nice touch of nostalgia in the roadster's design that will be available on some trim levels.

Other notable developments include a return to four-lug wheels, which will come in 16 or 17 inches. Mazda has eliminated the passenger side glove box in the dashboard in an effort to trim weight and maximize cabin space. A storage compartment between the seats becomes the sole cubbyhole in the cockpit.

Overall, the design is a more aggressive evolution of the iconic car, one that eschews the Kodo corporate design language yet is still unmistakably Miata. Mazda also trotted out 80s pop group Duran Duran to perform a surprising number of songs, but the MX-5 was the real star of the show.

Live images by Ben Hsu.

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