Since the 1990 launch, and with subsequent generations launched in 1999 and 2006, MX-5 Miata has always been available with an optional removable hardtop, but this is the first time the car will be available with a power-operated retractable hard top.
This new Mazda MX-5 provides a unified sense of driving exhilaration, ready to spread the fun of lightweight sports cars in diverse and distinct new ways, regardless of the weather.
Mazda Motor Corporation will use the 2006 British International Motor Show for its global reveal of the new Mazda MX-5, now equipped with a power retractable hard top roof. The British International Motor Show will be held in London from Tuesday, July 18, through Sunday, July 30, 2006.
“Jinba Ittai”—or ’rider and horse as one’ is the essence of Mazda MX-5, the expression reflecting the emotional connection between a horse and rider and is the purest essence of Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom spirit. Oneness is the cornerstone of the “Jinba Ittai” driving experience and occurs when the boundaries between driver and vehicle melt away and create one single being. Essentially, Jinba Ittai is a celebration of the simple delights of driving a lightweight, nimble, open-air roadster, and anyone who has driven a Miata knows the feeling.
Mazda MX-5 with a power retractable hard top roof will be known by different names around the world:
- Europe and Australia: Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe
- Japan: Mazda Roadster Power Retractable Hard Top
- North America: Mazda MX-5 (Miata) Power Retractable Hard Top
The Miata was envisioned by its designers as a small roadster with a minimum of unnecessary weight and complexity. The first Miata prototype was built in California, USA and Worthing, England. Many key stylistic cues were clearly inspired by (some say copied from) the Lotus Elan, a 1960s roadster that is widely considered to be one of the best handling sports cars of its day.
The design of the first generation Miata was the result of a competition between Mazda (North America) and the Tokyo Design Studio. The role of designing a front-engine, rear-wheel drive light-weight sports car was assigned to Mazda (North America) whilst the Tokyo Design Studio designed front engined, front-wheel drive and mid-engined, rear-wheel drive cars for the competition. After some minor changes in the design, presented in clay model form by the designers from Mazda (North America), the project was given final approval on 18 January 1986. The Miata was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show on 10 February 1989, with a price tag of US$13,800. The Miata would be available for purchase by the public from July 1989 as a 1990 model.
In 1998, Mazda released the updated model year 1999 MX-5 Miata. This model is known as the NB (referring to the model number printed on the VIN plate) or Mark 2. With its introduction, the earlier MX-5 Miata became known as the NA or Mark 1. The NB features a more powerful engine and more modern styling cues borrowed from the aggressive RX-7. A 6-speed manual transmission became available for the top models, though the 5-speed was retained as well. Prices in the United States, the main market for the Miata, started at US$19,770.
Production of the next-generation Mazda MX-5 (NC) began in May 2005 and went on sale in August, for the 2006 model year. The styling harkens back to the original design while adopting a clean, more muscular profile reminiscent of the Audi TT. Some design elements have been adopted to reinforce the family relationship with the RX-8. Unlike the NA to NB update, which was mostly a nose/tail/interior change, there are substantial differences in every body panel, so current accessories will not work with the new design.
Lots of people claim to be father of the Mazda MX5. The story we like most came from Shigharu Hiraiwa, original project leader. The task fell to him to sell the MX-5 concept to the then formidable three-man Mazda main board. He simply said, “would you like to build a car for one third less than a Mazda 323?” All three heads nodded in the affirmative. He then asked, “would you like to sell that car for one third more than a Mazda 3 23?” all three heads nodded enthusiastically. That’s how the original Mazda MX-5 got signed off. Now, 16 years and 721,000 sales later, we have a third incarnation of the most successful sportscar ever built.
Some important differences to the previous model are a slightly longer wheelbase, theoretically allowing drivers up to 6’ 1” tall to fit comfortably inside the car. The new chain-cam engines are more powerful, yet the 1.8 offers better fuel economy and lower emissions, making it a better BIK deal for company drivers. And, despite being bigger and better, the car is only 22 lbs heavier than before. Some of the weight saving has been in the suspension which now has aluminum rather than pressed steel wishbones and ultra lightweight anti-roll bars, and the fuel injection system is a light plastic moulding rather than a heavy metal casting.
The new car had a long gestation and project leader Nobuhiro Yamamoto was keen to emphasise the singleminded concentration on ‘Jinba Ittai’, the ancient Japanese martial art of horseback archery that required man and his mount to work together in perfect harmony (the very qualities that made the MX-5 Mk 1 and 2 so well loved). 320 sketches from Mazda design studios in California, Germany and Japan were refined into seven quarter scale models, then three full-scale models that had to pass the test of being recognisably MX-5s from 100 metres. The Japanese design won, but details from both the Californian and German cars were incorporated into the final production car.
The all-new 2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata has inherited its predecessor’s sporty DNA and continues to exemplify Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom philosophy. To convert the subtle imagery of Jinba Ittai into nuts-and-bolts reality with a body shell, drivetrain, and chassis components, Mazda designers wielded a tool called “Kansei” Engineering. Like “Jinba Ittai”, “Kansei” is difficult to translate into Western terms, although "thoughtful awareness" and "heightened sensitivity" are the expressions that come closest to defining “Kansei”. It is the realization that the fitness of every constituent part underlies the goodness of the whole, that the aforementioned synergy between driver and car can be honed so that it can be felt by anyone who experiences the vehicle in motion. Another “Kansei” canon is that every aspect of design, mechanical function and dynamic response ultimately contribute to driving satisfaction.
In addition to MX-5’s usual competition the Roadster Coupe goes for the Mercedes SLK and the Smart Roadster Coupe. The first one is the car that invented the category and was born with a retractable hard-top. Available now with a second generation model, the SLK can be considered top of the tree in this class. Mazda’s pros over the Merc are the price and emotional orientation. The car is being directed rather towards the owner’s hart, instead of hitting the rational side, as the SLK does. The Smart Roadster Coupe is in the same price range as the MX-5, but feels more like a kiddie-cart. Rumors say that this center engine toy is about to be abandoned due to poor sales.
The Miata’s success was partially due to its cute exterior styling. It took the idea of the British roadsters of the ’50s and ’60s and added Japanese style (and a healthy dose of Japanese quality). The "Coke bottle" shape of the original Miata was such a winning design that the biggest problem Mazda had was making sure any future exterior changes would still maintain the vehicle’s overall appeal. Now we’re on the third generation, and Mazda designers amazingly made all the right changes but still kept that original flavor. The wheel arches are more pronounced, the overall size has risen in small portions (2.5 inches longer on the wheelbase, 1.6 inches overall length, 1.6-inches wider, and a hair taller), but the overall proportions front to rear are still intact. The bottle shape is gone, replaced by a more rounded styling that is noticeable looking down the sides from the front or back of the MX-5. The rear taillights are still elliptical, but now have clear lenses that are more contemporary. It’s still cute, but a touch more aggressive, which matches the increase in power and handling.
While no body panels have been left unchanged, the 2006 MX-5 is still very definitely a small Mazda roadster. From the rear it is most similar to the earlier models, while the fender treatment and the lines cut into the hood establish a family resemblance to the RX-8. At the front, the oval grille and slit-like projector-beam headlights give it a look that combines classic European design with the contemporary Japanese idiom. A longer hood and shorter rear deck accentuate the new Miata’s sports car proportions, and the wheels fill the wheel arches well. It has the look of a high-performance car without being a steroid-injected caricature.
The nose and tail are tapered as before, but on the new MX-5, the surfaces wrap smoothly between the wheels without narrowing, providing a wider cockpit with additional hip, shoulder and elbow room. The low, flowing shoulder line is complemented by body panels that smoothly wrap around the nose and tail.
The single most important element in creating oneness between car and driver is the chassis. The first and second generation MX-5 set a benchmark for chassis performance in the automotive industry, and true to form, so has the third generation MX-5. The spectacular new MX-5 chassis is at once responsive, precise and nimble.
Two key words for the feeling Mazda’s engineering team pursued were precise and nimble. The goal was for a natural, lively feeling instead of the cold efficiency of some well-oiled machines. While solid stability is essential for safe driving, the ideal for the new Mazda MX-5 was to develop a chassis that is keen to alter speed or direction as swiftly as the driver changes his mind.
Every aspect of driver control had to be coordinated with steering, suspension, brakes, engine, and transmission responses. How the driver’s seat was configured, the distance to the steering wheel and shifter, the feeling of the brake pedal, the ability to heel and toe, all played a significant role in achieving the Jinba Ittai driving experience. The original Miata was quantified and higher targets of opportunity in all aspects were identified.
A lightweight, stiff unibody serves as the chassis’s foundation and provides the rigidity needed to deliver the performance synonymous with Mazda. The all-new MX-5 unibody boasts a 22 percent increase in flexural stiffness and a 47 percent increase in torsional rigidity over the previous generation MX-5 for a more direct, connected driving experience.
Overall Height, in.: 50.0 (estimated)
Curb Weight, lbs.: 2550 (estimated)
A double-wishbone front suspension setup complements a multi-link rear suspension system for optimized handling and chassis stability. Stretching the front track by 3.0 inches, rear track by 2.1 inches and overall wheelbase by 2.6 inches while moving the engine back in the chassis by 5.3 inches also helped improve the new MX-5’s handling and balance characteristics. The advanced anti-dive and anti-squat geometry integrated into the suspension controls unwanted steering and pitch motion during acceleration and braking for a predictable driving experience.
For braking performance, Mazda engineers selected 11.4-inch ventilated discs in front and 11.0-inch solid discs in back to deliver rapid, controlled stopping. Because the new MX-5 was developed to "feel" right, caliper stiffness was increased by 25 percent, brake hoses are now less resilient and the power booster is one-inch larger than before.
The new MX-5’s power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering is tuned to be precise and responsive with only 2.6 turns lock-to-lock, giving the car a keen sense of agility.
Wheels & Tires
Rear wheels 17 x 7 in rims, 205/45 R17 tires
Engine & transmission
The new Mazda MX-5 is available with a choice of three petrol engines (109 cui or 122 cui with 5-speed gearbox, 122 cui with 6-speed gearbox).
The 109 cui MZR engine delivers the power in a precise manner allowing you to perfectly match each gear change within the correct power band. A 5-speed manual gearbox is standard and with a 0-62 mph time of 9.4 seconds and a top speed of 122 mph - the 1.8i engine has to worked quite hard to explore its potential.
The 122 cui MZR engine is a quicker car with a 0-62 mph time of 7.9 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. Available with a choice of standard 5-speed or optional 6-speed manual gearbox.
Shifts on the standard 5-speed manual are smooth, with direct, precise and short throws that never require more than a flick of your wrist to execute. (Two other transmissions are available: a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters.)
122 cui engine specs
Valvetrain DOHC, 4 Valves per Cyl VVT
Fuel feed Multi-Port Electronic Fuel Injection
Displacement 122.0 cu in
Power 170 bhp @ 6700 rpm
Hp per litre 85.04 bhp per litre
Bhp/weight 151.52 bhp per weight
Transmission 6-Speed Manual (opt 5-Speed, or 6-Speed Sport Auto)
Gear ratios 3.82:1, 2.26:1, 1.64:1, 1.18:1, 1.00:1, 0.83:1
Top speed 130 mph
0 - 60 mph 6.8 seconds
0 - 100 mph 19.5 seconds
0 - 1/4 mile 15.54 seconds
The interior of the MX-5 received the same careful craftsmanship and attention to detail as the exterior. The design and placement of all switches and controls communicate the care taken to make the cockpit as driver-focused as possible. A highly legible instrument cluster clearly displays all necessary information, including speed, engine rpm and oil and coolant temperature. Coated glass covers the cluster for visibility even in direct sunlight.
Chrome and silver highlights accent the interior, distinguishing the instrument panel and gauge rings, air-vent bezels and outer door handles. The spokes of the three-spoke tilt steering wheel share the silver trim as well. For added safety, steering wheel-mounted audio and speed controls allow the driver to keep both hands on the wheel when not shifting. Both the steering wheel and the seats are adjustable to allow drivers of all sizes to enjoy the pure exhilaration of the newest generation Mazda MX-5.
To enhance comfort when the top is down, waist-level louver vents direct warm and cool air throughout the cockpit to maintain a comfortable cabin temperature, effectively extending the open-air driving season. A mesh aero-board deflector mounts vertically behind the seats to reduce wind buffeting and top-down turbulence for a comfortable driving experience.
Interior storage accommodation is plentiful. Three separate compartments are built into the back wall of the cockpit, with one compartment readily accessible and lockable with room for 10 CDs, and the other two compartments positioned behind the seat backs. Bottle holders, pockets and additional compartments are placed strategically throughout the rest of the MX-5’s interior. The end result is a comfortable, driver-focused cabin with a surprising amount of functional amenities.
Another cool feature is the Advance Key design that, unlike some of the bulkier keyless start systems, is the size and shape of a credit card, and easily fits in a pocket or purse. As long as the key is in proximity of the vehicle, just grab the ignition switch and turn on the MX-5.
Although Mazda’s engineers placed a premium on vehicle performance, safety continues to assume a high level of importance with the 2006 MX-5. For the first time ever, MX-5 now offers side airbag protection as standard equipment. A two-volume side-impact airbag is positioned inside each seat backrest. A single inflator simultaneously expands the torso portion of the airbag and the larger-volume head-protection airbag. This innovative design is light, compact and highly effective at minimizing occupant injury in a side impact collision.
Passive safety features of the new MX-5 include a sturdy unibody structure designed to meet or exceed impact protection standards, and front and side airbags. Excellent handling and stopping characteristics help active safety.
Prices & equipment
When the Miata hit the showrooms in 1989 as a 1990 model, it caught all the other manufacturers off guard. Now, some 15 years later, there are little roadsters all over the place. The only one that Mazda’s worried about is the new Solstice from Pontiac.
ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), alarm, immobiliser and dual front airbags are standard on the entry level car and DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), with TCS (Traction Control System), Limited Slip Differential and side airbags standard on the 122 cui model. We would like to have seen safety as standard with all features especially side airbags standard throughout the range
The Roadster Coupe MX-5 is estimated to be 10% more expensive therefore we can approximate using the prices of the soft-top version. The Club Spec, estimated for $23,100 will make all those Mazda Club Spec racers happy as it comes without certain items like A/C to help reduce weight. The well-equipped Grand Touring (GT) model, with features like leather seats and trim, a six-speed manual tranny, and Bose audio system (which automatically adjusts the volume when the top is down — cool), is an affordable $27,450.
Bumper-to-bumper: 4 years / 50,000 miles
Corrosion: 5 years / Unlimited miles
Mazda’s success in creating a dynamic two-seat roadster is evident from the large number of Miatas sold since its introduction – more than 700,000 – and the more than 100 consumer and industry awards won, including 11 prestigious Automobile magazine "All Star" awards. More than 320,000 Miatas have been sold in the United States alone, and there are still in excess of 270,000 on the road – true testament to the car’s "cult" following. Now, as the car goes after the retractable hard-top tendencies of the industry there is even less to criticize about the MX-5. Mixing the incredible high fun factor with the 365 days a year usage possibility due to weather proof folding hard-top, the success seems to be guaranteed.