2014 Motor Press Guild Mixer with 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata
by Joel Arellano
Event: Mazda ’80s “MX-er”
When: October 30, 2014
What: Mazda unveiled the all-new MX-5 Miata in early September. Since then, the automaker has been showing off the roadster in various venues throughout the world. Members of the CA-based Motor Press Guild and their guests had a close-up look at the iconic sports car just before All-Hallow’s Eve.
The first generation Miata hit the roads in the late Eighties. Thus the 80s-themed Mazda event perfectly framed the 2016 MX-5 at the Mazda ’80s MX-er. Several guests dressed to impress in their heavy metal shirts and hairstyles while Kim Carnes’ “Betty Davis Eyes”, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar and other 80s greats rocked overhead from the speakers. Guest speaker Derek Jenkins, design chief of R&D at Mazda, said he had just been accepted to design school when the Miata hit U.S. roads in 1989. The impact reverberated throughout the decades, continued Jenkins, as automakers saw the viability of vehicles aimed at enthusiasts. Popular sports cars like the Viper, TT, Z3, Z4 and the Boxster followed in the wake of the Miata’s debut.
First, second and third generation models of the Mazda MX-5 Miata were on display at the mixer. Jenkins showed how each influenced the shape of the latest fourth-gen model. The Japanese-spec MX-5 on display, for example, continues to maintain the clean sides of its predecessors. Elsewhere, Jenkins and his design team went in new directions. These include the new headlamps, grille and more modern front fascia. The rear fenders are more pronounced in the 2015 MX-5 and the trunklid juts out instead of flowing back into the rear bumpers. As I told the Mazda reps present, the 2016 MX-5 looks far better in person than the pictures show.
The biggest change, though, is the Miata’s interior. It looks more upscale with richer materials and a more up-to-date design. Yet guests were impressed that the controls were obvious and simple to operate. Compare that to controls of other cars today where you need a dummies book or idiots guide to figure out how to change the fan speed. Some folks expressed reservations with the seeming lack of storage in the roadster. Mazda reps, in response,, pointed out that details of the American-spec MX-5 had yet to be released.
As I stated above, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata looks great in person and far more striking than online images let on. I love the changes and can’t wait to check out the American edition. James Hamel reviewed the 2014 model for Why This Ride. I look forward to his take on the new one when it goes on sale next year as a 2016 model.