There’s a reason the MX-5 Miata is the most beloved sports car of its generation, right? It’s a cheap, plentiful roadster that handles like a dream and has served as the gateway into the world of sports cars for 25 years now. But beyond the millions of disciples out there spreading the gospel of the Miata and years of service in everything from amateur autocross to SCCA-sanctioned Spec Miata racing all over the U.S., this amazing roadster still, still has an image problem. Despite its world-class handling, intuitive steering feel, and an amazing manual transmission, people still gripe about how it doesn’t have enough power. And while the ’90-97 NA Miata has ascended to bona-fide young-timer classic status, there’s still some jackass out there who’s ready to smirk and call it a hairdresser’s car, or worse: a girl’s car (gasp!).
For these past 25 years, Mazda has sat silently and let it all just happen. After all, the car has never been anything less than a home run for the company, naysayers be damned. And with the exception of a few limited edition performance-focused models here and there (and the current Club, of course), what you saw with the Miata is largely what you got. But for SEMA this year, the automaker is getting down to business and unveiling what the company calls “two vastly different takes on the fourth-generation MX-5″ that could shake the car’s goody-good reputation once and for all.
We should’ve guessed Mazda had some tricks up its sleeve when traded in the Miata’s trademark smile for a scowl on the new car. And while it seemingly pulled off the impossible by shrinking the new car back down to the size of the original, Mazda didn’t sacrifice anything that needed to be there. In fact, the new Miata is one of the most focused sports cars available at any price. So how can Mazda ever hope to top their world-beating sports car? Easy, with a Speedster and a Spyder model.
If the Speedster and Spyder names make you think Porsche, you’re not alone. In fact, the Boxster, Porsche’s ’90s-era response to the Miata that’s shackled with the same undeserved lightweight reputation, even has a hardcore track-focused model called the Spyder. In terms of price and power, the Boxster has always been out of the Miata’s league. But don’t expect that to keep Mazda from turning the tables and following in Porsche’s footsteps for a change. According to Mazda:
MX-5 Spyder captures the character of a vintage roadster and translates it into a modern-day design, including bespoke leather interior details that were painstakingly crafted, and featuring a new Mercury Silver concept paint color.
Like Porsche’s go-fast Boxster, the Spyder also features a spartan ragtop and a double-bubble tonneau cover. And for the Speedster, a name that brings iconic midcentury Porsche convertibles to mind, Mazda says:
MX-5 Speedster is a study in the extremes of lightweight, purpose-built performance, paying homage to minimalist roadsters of the 1950s. The Blue Ether-painted MX-5 Speedster is uncompromised in its approach to wind-in-the-hair driving, going so far as to eschew a traditional windshield for a lighter deflector.
Other than that, Mazda is keeping mum on details, just like it did with the recently-unveiled RX-Vision concept at the Tokyo Motor Show. It did let this slip, however:
Both cars are significantly lighter than the 2,332-lbs. MX-5 roadster that customers can purchase at dealers and come with a host of conceptual and aftermarket pieces and fabrication including Racing Beat, Haartz Corporation, ASC – American Sunroof Corporation, Makin Industries/RAYS Wheels, KW Suspensions, Delta Seat, H&R Springs, Lusch, AC&A Manufacturing, Franks Fab Shop, Long Road Racing and SIM Specialty Interior Manufacturing.
But for more technical an performance specs, we’ll just have to wait for SEMA to kick off November 3. With so many hands in the pot, it doesn’t look likely that these big bad Miatas will ever see production, but then again, launching a subcompact roadster with a severe case of Anglophilia in 1989 seemed like a long shot too. We’re keeping two of our fingers crossed that these roadsters live to see the open road.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.
Follow Derek on Twitter @CS_DerekS