Heaps of praise have been laid at the wheels of Mazda’s new 2016 Mazda MX-5, and now the automaker has yet another accolade to add to the collection. On June 29, in front of 1,200 guests at the Aalto Theater in Essen, Germany, the roadster received the Best of the Best award for exceptional, ground-breaking design in this year’s Red Dot: Product Design competition.

Accepting the Red Dot trophy was Kevin Rice, Mazda Europe’s design director, who said that one key focus of the design process was striking a balance between tradition and progress. However, he also said that, since the beginning, the MX-5 has been about creating smiles, adding “… I believe every inch of this car radiates life, movement and the promise of fun behind the wheel.”

The MX-5 is one of the latest examples of Mazda’s KODO – Soul of Motion design language. Clearly, the styling is a hit, as Mazda also managed to take home a Red Dot for outstanding design quality for its 2016 Mazda CX-3 compact SUV, plus an honorable mention for the 2016 Mazda2. In total, five new-generation Mazdas have received Red Dots. 

The Red Dot Design Awards have been around since 1955, with the Product Design being the oldest category of three. The competition is open to not just cars, but several other manufacturing fields as well, including furniture, home appliances and tools.

Last year, more than 15,500 submissions were received from 70 different countries. This year, that number was smaller, with 4,928 submissions coming in from 56 countries. A jury panel of 38 international experts assessed entries in 31 categories, evaluating each on criteria like innovation, functionality, ergonomics and ecological compatibility. Only 1.6 percent of submissions in the Product Design category received recognition. 

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

For its fourth generation, Mazda did good work in revamping the exterior of the MX-5. As stated by Rice, the car has always been about fun, and in the past, that’s equated to a design that some found to be far too cute to be considered a real sports car, despite the MX-5’s long list of performance credentials.

The small proportions, gentle curves and grinning fascia of the older generations made many reviewers think “librarian.” However, the redesign is more aggressive, with sharper cuts and more angles. The fascia isn’t quite grimacing, but it’s definitely not something you could add eyelashes and a toothy smile on like the previous iterations.

I agree with the panel in thinking that the car looks good, and stands as a stark improvement over the outgoing model. It’s still fun, but bears a few cues that hint at the incredible potential this car has on a race track.

2016 Mazda MX-5

2016 Mazda MX-5 High Resolution Exterior
- image 614474

The MX-5 roadster has been around for 26 years, with nearly a million units built and sold around the globe. It’s front/mid-ship, RWD layout provides the necessary bones for a world-class sports car, while a low curb weight and perfect 50:50 weight distribution lend it superb handling prowess. The latest generation comes with a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine, which creates 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque, providing the necessary motivation to yield a 0-to-60 time just under 6 seconds and a top speed around 130 mph. Pricing starts at $24,790.

Read our full review here.

Jonathan Lopez
About the author

Press Release

Mazda accepted the “Red Dot: Best of the Best” prize for the all-new Mazda MX-5 on 29 June at a gala ceremony in front of some 1,200 guests at the Aalto Theatre in Essen, Germany. The “Best of the Best” prize goes to exceptionally ground-breaking designs across many industries; only 1.6% of all submissions received the distinction during this year’s Red Dot Award: Product Design competition.

“The MX-5 has always been about creating smiles, and design is a key part of its success,” says Kevin Rice, Mazda Europe’s design director, who accepted the Red Dot trophy together with Vice President Communications Wojciech Halarewicz. “Balancing tradition and progress, the new model was an exercise in knowing what to change and what not to. And I believe every inch of this car radiates life, movement and the promise of fun behind the wheel.”

With its aggressive face, sweeping lines, wide stance and short overhangs, the latest MX-5 is perhaps the most unique adaptation yet of the critically acclaimed KODO – Soul of Motion design theme on which all new-generation Mazdas are based. The company also won two other Red Dot product design prizes this year: a “Red Dot” for outstanding design quality for its all-new small SUV, the Mazda CX-3, and an “Honourable Mention” for the Mazda2. Five new-generation Mazdas have now captured Red Dot awards.

The Red Dot product design jury of 38 international experts evaluated the entries based on criteria ranging from the degree of design innovation to functionality, ergonomics and ecological compatibility. The jury appraised 4,928 submissions from 56 countries this year, selecting the best entries in 31 categories, including vehicles. They have earned the right to bear the Red Dot symbol, an international seal of design excellence. Initiated in 1955 by the Essen, Germany-based Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, the annual product competition is considered the world’s largest.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: