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2017 Mazda Miata RF – Driven

2017 Mazda Miata RF – Driven

The less-expensive Porsche 911 Targa

Needing no introduction, the Mazda Miata RF is well into its first year of production. This retractable fastback version of Mazda’s insanely popular two-seat sports car not only adds a level of interior comfort with lower noise levels and better insulation against extreme temperatures, but also adds some beautiful aesthetics to the MX-5’s Kodo Design language. Coated in the gorgeous Machine Gray metallic paint, out recent test car proved the Miata RF is more than a mere replacement for the last-generation power-retractable hardtop.

The Miata RF is a looker. Its styling flows with more grace and elegance than the ragtop convertible. Crisp edges meet with curved fenders and voluptuous haunches. Mazda’s attention to detail moves the Miata further up-market, while its price and fun-loving nature remain firmly planted in the obtainable sports car category. Aside from the roof, the Miata RF changes little from its roadster counterpart. An extra 113 pounds, a slightly revised steering calibration, and modestly retuned suspension comprise the most notable differences. But how does this affect the drive? To find out, I spent a week with the Miata RF, flogging it over familiar roads around Central Florida, all the while enjoying the springtime air flowing through the open cockpit.

Continue reading for the full driven review.

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2016 Mazda MX-5

2016 Mazda MX-5

With a history that began in 1989, the Mazda MX-5 is one of the hottest-selling convertibles on the market. In its 21 years of history, the MX-5 saw three different generations, numerous design updates, and even more engine changes. However, the most impressive upgrade has been announced for the fourth-generation that debuted on September 3rd, 2014.

The Mazda MX-5 remains a rear-wheel-drive, compact sports roadster with an exterior design inspired by the Shinari Concept unveiled in 2010. With the new generation, the ND, Mazda focused on reducing the total weight to less than 2,400 pounds and implementing the SkyActiv technology that’s already available across the rest of its lineup.

Slightly shorter and lighter than its predecessor, the new Miata also received a new exterior design, which makes it unique among other Mazda nameplates despite featuring various cues from the company’s current KODO language.

Updated 03/25/2016: The new Mazda MX-5 was named 2016 World Car and World Car Design of the Year at the 2016 New York Auto Show. Masahiro Moro, the President and CEO of Mazda North America said it was a "Wonderful Honor" when receiving both awards for the company.

Continue reading to learn more about the fourth generation Mazda MX-5.

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2017 Mazda MX-5 RF Unveiled

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF Unveiled

The canyon-carving icon gets a retractable hardtop

Mazda got the drop on the 2016 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) with the launch of a new addition to the MX-5 family. It’s called the MX-5 RF, with the last two letters alluding to the “retractable fastback” roof that replaces the old ragtop. While the fourth-generation MX-5 is undoubtedly a significant aesthetic upgrade over the old model, the new RF is simply gorgeous. The design visually moves the cabin towards the tail, emphasizing the rear haunches and giving the whole package a superb sense of balance and poise. Complementing the new look is the availability of a new premium color – Machine Grey. Something tells me the days of explaining handling dynamics and tossability to non-enthusiasts is over…

Speaking of which, the RF promises to be every bit of fun behind the wheel as the standard model, although Mazda has yet to reveal how much the retractable roof mechanism adds to the original’s feathery curb weight. U.S. customers get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that sends 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels, while a 1.5-liter powerplant is offered elsewhere. Routing the power is a six-speed manual gearbox, or alternatively, a six-speed automatic. Inside, expect the same driver-centric control layout.

The 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF will be on display at the Mazda booth throughout the duration of NYIAS. Customers are invited to place pre-orders later this summer, with deliveries expected sometime thereafter.

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Fiat Trademarks the 124 and 124 Spider Names

Fiat Trademarks the 124 and 124 Spider Names

It’s been a couple of years since initial rumors about a brand-new Alfa Romeo Spider based on the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata surfaced the Interwebz. But what seemed like an interesting idea has been dismissed by Alfa Romeo chief Harald Wester, who told Car that the upcoming Spider is an in-house project that includes a new rear-wheel-drive architecture and not the Miata’s platform. No need to be too disappointed though, as it appears the brand-new MX-5 will still share its underpinnings with an Italian car, albeit with a Fiat badge.

The good news is Fiat is looking to revive one of its most iconic monikers for the Japanese platform, as the automaker submitted two trademark applications to the U.S. Patent Trade Office for the "124" and the "124 Spider" names.

The 124 Spider is particularly important, as it will be the closest related to the 2016 MX-5 Miata roadster. There’s no word as to what design language Fiat will use for it, but if the original 124 Sport Spider is any indication, the result should be a stylish roadster with lots of Italian flair. A more powerful, Abarth-badged version is also likely.

The 124, on the other hand, is somewhat of a mystery. The most likely scenario is that the 124 will become a coupe version of the 124 Spider and the Mazda MX-5. Essentially a spiritual successor of the Fiat 124 Coupe produced between 1967 and 1975. However, with the "Coupe" name missing from the trademark, we can’t be 100-percent sure the 124 badge will adorn a two-door. The said moniker was actually used for a compact sedan from 1966 to 1974, when it was replaced by the 131 model. Considering Fiat’s current lineup doesn’t include a sedan, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the 124 four-door return. On the other hand, there’s no way Fiat could use the MX-5’s platform for a sedan.

Either way, make sure you stay tuned to TopSpeed for updates on this hot topic.

Click past the jump to read more about the upcoming Fiat 124 Spider.

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5 Biggest Competitors for the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

5 Biggest Competitors for the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

At last, the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata is finally here to put an end to years of speculation over its new design. Sure, details surrounding its engine and the amenities it will come with are still under wraps, but that didn’t stop us from having an argument about what impact will the 2016 Miata have on the sports car market once it hits showrooms. While most of us agree the Miata is a rather unique vehicle, we do know the Japanese roadster faces stiff competition from larger and sometime more powerful convertibles.

Of course, if you’re a Miata enthusiast, then it’s likely you’re not even considering what other manufacturers have to offer. But it’s not that of a bad idea to know how the fourth-generation MX-5 stacks up against its main competitors, which mostly come from either Japan or Germany. So what nameplates should fear the new Miata’s arrival in late 2015? Read on to find out.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata and its competitors

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Watch The Reveal of The New 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata LIVE Tonight

Watch The Reveal of The New 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata LIVE Tonight

In the matter of hours, Mazda is going to be livecasting the unveiling of all the all-new fourth generation Miata, the 2016 Mazda MX-5. It has been almost ten years since the NC-generation car made its debut, and the world is ready for a new roadster.

Will it have a turbocharged engine? How much less will it weigh? Will it shoot lasers into space from magical performance canons? Tune in tonight and you can find out. The party starts at 6 p.m. PDT. That means 9 p.m. if you are on the East Coast and a rather crazy 2 a.m. if you find yourself in a city like London.

Don’t forget to come back right after the reveal to check our coverage. We will have a full write-up with all of the important details, specifications and new press photos as soon as we can get it live.

While you wait for the reveal, feel free to hop into the comments and let us know what you think is coming. I especially want to know what you guys think about the engine. Justin and I have a bet going on; he thinks it will have a turbo, and I think that he is wrong.

Get to commenting and we will see you back here in just a few hours for the party.

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Duran Duran is Set to Headline the Unveiling of the 2016 MX-5

Duran Duran is Set to Headline the Unveiling of the 2016 MX-5

Mazda is now confirming details on its upcoming launch of the all-new 2016 MX-5 Miata. The event is set to take place in Monterey, California on Wednesday, September 3, 2014. It will in fact be a global launch with simultaneous debuts in Tokyo and Barcelona. Coverage will also be viewable live on Mazda’s YouTube channel.

Besides the new MX-5 getting the spotlight, 1980s rock band Duran Duran will headline the event, singing plenty of their classic hits. “Duran Duran and the MX-5 Miata both made their world debuts in the 1980s and captured the hearts and imagination of an entire generation,” says Russell Wager, vice president of marketing for Mazda North American Operations. “In 25 years, both the car and the band have evolved while staying true to their roots.”

This is a special time for the MX-5 Miata, as it celebrated its 25th anniversary on February 10, 2014 and will soon break the one millionth unit sold. As of this writing, Mazda quotes that it’s sold over 930,000 Miatas globally since its debut back in 1989.

The details about the new Miata are still unknown, but that won’t last for long. Its debut is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. PDT.

Mazda is throwing a second party for the MX-5 in partnership with Fashion Rocks. The event will be broadcast live on CBS on Tuesday, September 9 at 9:00 p.m. ET. Fashion Rocks will be hosted by Ryan Seacrest at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The two-hour event will celebrate the close relationship between fashion and music.

Click past the jump to read the full press release

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1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata "Turbo Smurf" by Flyin' Miata - Driven

1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata "Turbo Smurf" by Flyin’ Miata - Driven

Flyin’ Miata has this incredible ability to create unique and wonderful cars from the Miata. Nancy the supercharged NC is a sprightly car that is set for rally racing, Atomic Betty is a world class GT car and the Exocet is a track-day phenom. These are all shop cars, however, and are set up to portray a certain style and characteristic.

But what would an employee of Flyin’ Miata do to their own car. With no need to highlight a certain part or feature, and no need to cater to the desires of a customer, what would they create. If you are Keith Tanner, you create the Turbo Smurf.

This 1990 Miata has been fettled, upgraded and altered in essentially every manner to become what is Keith’s ideal daily driver. From the drivetrain and suspension to the interior and even the sound insulation, there is almost no part of this roadster that has been left untouched.

Are the results a carefully created car that coddles as well as it excites? Or did Keith just create a Frankenstein of speed and noise that only just manages to ferry him to the shop without killing him? I spent some time behind the driver seat to figure it out.

Read on to discover more about the Flyin’ Miata Turbo Smurf Miata

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2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata "Atomic Betty" by Flyin' Miata - Driven

2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata "Atomic Betty" by Flyin’ Miata - Driven

What happens when you take the stiffest and most refined Miata ever built, and then have Flyin’ Miata cram a fire-breathing small block V-8 under the hood? You get one of the best cars I have ever driven. Period.

This is Atomic Betty and she has stolen my heart.

With more than 400 horsepower and an equal measure of torque, Atomic Betty takes the power and thrust of a Corvette, and cuts a few hundred pounds. The results are staggering to say the least. Despite the insertion of the large engine, very little of Betty has been altered, and from the exterior she looks like a stock NC Miata to 99-percent of onlookers. If you prefer the idea of a “sleeper,” Betty is about the best you can get.

Best of all, the weight balance has barely been changed and overall weight gain from the new engine is less than putting a full-size male in the passenger seat. That means that same handling and crispness of the Miata remains, there just happens to be almost three-times as much power at the call of your right foot.

Hell. Yes.

Continue to read more about Flyin’ Miata’s V-8 powered NC Miata Atomic Betty.

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Flyin' Miata Summer Camp: An Unforgettable Experience

Flyin’ Miata Summer Camp: An Unforgettable Experience

When I was a child, my only real experience with the idea of summer camp was watching Salute Your Shorts on Nickelodeon. I was always active and outside, I just never went to an actual camp. Now that I am an adult who is staring at 30, the idea of going to summer camp sounds even more laughable. At least, it did until I got a quick message from Flyin’ Miata asking me if I wanted to come out for its annual Summer Camp.

This isn’t a s’mores, campfires and Kumbaya style of summer camp. Rather, it would be a several days of epic drives, track time, food and friends, all wrapped up with the lovely veneer of driving in a roadster.

Within hours of the invitation I was trying to arrange flights.

Upon my arrival in the great state of Colorado my time as a FM Summer Camp attendee began. From my blast up Pikes Peaks in the supercharged NC, Nancy, to a welcoming party, two full track days, several information seminars and the awards dinner, the next few days were packed with fun, friendship and long-lasting memories. The heat was a bit intense though, and as you can see by the photo, it made me do some really weird things.

Special thanks to Travis Ingram Photography for the photo.

Read more about the Flyin’ Miata Summer Camp Festivities after the break.

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TopSpeed Podcast Episode 023 LIVE

TopSpeed Podcast Episode 023 LIVE

Well, the live show is over. A huge thanks goes out to everyone who tuned it and chatted with us. You guys make this even more fun. If you tuned in last week to take part in the fiasco that was my terrible Internet service, I apologize, but I am back this week. After our usual mildly hilarious intro issues, we move straight into the Weekly Wheels. You get to hear all about the new Toyota Corolla, the 2015 Buick LaCrosse and the brand-spanking new Lexus NX.

After weekly wheels we break straight into my epic trip to Colorado to drive a whole collection of amazing and modified Miatas at the Flyin’ Miata Summer Camp. From V-8s and turbocharged cars, to built and stroked naturally aspirated engines and race-bread kit cars, I drove all kinds on awesome things.

After I quit swooning over the multiple Miatas, we move into the news. We cover two upcoming BMW i models, the nearly 300-mph feud between Hennessey and Bugatti, and rumors of a 700-horsepower Infiniti. We also touch on the potential future of Cadillac and the rumors of a RWD flagship for the American brand.

The Question and Answer segment featured what cars we think are the most boring, as well as what we would buy for our own children when they are old enough to drive. Finishing our little shindig is Own, Drive, Burn in which we have to choose between special Aston Martin models.

Please let us know if you liked the show or not, any and all feedback is appreciated. As always, you can find us on iTunes if you want to subscribe to the audio feed. Have a safe weekend, and we will see you next Thursday.

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2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata "Nancy" by Flyin' Miata - Driven

2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata "Nancy" by Flyin’ Miata - Driven

What happens when Flyin’ Miata gets a hold of an old Mazda press loaner and the supercharger kit that was designed for the Super20 concept? It creates an all-out targa rally car, of course. Meet "Nancy," the supercharged and rally-prepped 2006 Mazda Miata MX-5.

Nancy started life as a test bed for NC-generation parts, but after the application of the supercharger kit and a full suspension upgrade, she got wrapped in a racing livery vinyl and Flyin’ Miata took her racing across Canada in the 2011 Targa Newfoundland.

I got to spend several days, a few hundred miles and some track time with this incredible machine. Did Flyin’ Miata ruin the balance and fun of the Miata with all of its racing upgrades, or is Nancy merely a better version of an already great car? Read on to find out.

Continue reading to find out what I thought about Flyin’ Miata’s Nancy.

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I Raced Toward the Sky as I Drove a Highly Modified Miata up Pikes Peak

I Raced Toward the Sky as I Drove a Highly Modified Miata up Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak is one of the oldest and most historic races in North America. When I landed in Denver, Colorado for the Flyin’ Miata Summer Camp event, I decided that I couldn’t be this close to the mighty mountain without seeing its summit.

So there I stood, holding the keys to a supercharged Miata, and I was only an hour away from one of the highest roads in the United States. I pointed the nose of the racing-liveried NC south, and started my mountaineering adventure.

Thanks to a series of storms that were dumping record levels of wet stuff in the area, I figured the mountain was going to be treacherous, but I also assumed it was going to be mostly empty. Upon arriving at the toll gate to the twisty piece of pavement I found that my predictions were mostly correct.

What followed was 19-miles of automotive nirvana and incredible scenery.

Continue reading to hear about my incredible journey to the top of Pikes Peak.

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Join Me as I Hoon With Flyin' Miata

Join Me as I Hoon With Flyin’ Miata

It is no secret that we all love Miatas here at TopSpeed.com. The tiny roadster is built for nothing but pure driving pleasure, and it delivers in spades. There are a few though that feel the Miata’s small, four-cylinder engine is just not powerful enough to really exploit the incredible chassis. Flyin’ Miata falls into that group, and it has earned a reputation for making some of the best modifications that include chassis bracing, turbo kits, supercharger kits, suspension and brake upgrades, and V-8 conversions.

If you want your Miata to go faster, handle better and stop quicker, there isn’t a finer team I know of than the crew at FM.

As you read this, I am on my way to their headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado to see the operation, look at what new goodies they have coming, and of course, I am going to drive a whole pile of modified Miatas.

I will be covering a lot of what I see and learn on the site in the next week or two, but if you want to follow along live, you can check out the social media links posted after the break. Also after the break is a quick look at some of what I will be driving and doing this week.

If there is a special modification or car that you want to know about, drop it in the comments. I will do whatever I can to get your questions answered. For now, just hit that jump to get a sneak preview of the mess I’m getting into over the next few days.

Click past the jump to read more

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The Mazda Miata: A Unique Car for Unique Owners

The Mazda Miata: A Unique Car for Unique Owners

During my more than 2,000-mile excursion with the 2014 Mazda Miata, I learned a lot of things. I learned why Mazda gave me a hat and sunscreen when they dropped off the car, I learned that I actually love convertibles, and I learned that 25 years of changes have yet to alter the true feel and purpose of the tiny roadster.

More than this, I learned that the Miata is a very special car, and that you need to be a very special person to buy one. More than any other car I have ever encountered, the Mazda Miata attracts a very specific buyer that no other car seems to. Unlike models from brands like BMW, or Toyota who attract a large collection of buyers in different age groups and interests, the only people who ever seem to own a Miata are the people who love cars and driving more than anything else.

But why is that?

Read on to find out what makes Miata owners special

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Chasing Cherries: 1,000 Miles, a Mazda Miata, and Fresh Pie

Chasing Cherries: 1,000 Miles, a Mazda Miata, and Fresh Pie

The list of things that bring me joy in this world is a long one. I enjoy tire smoke, nice scotch, sunny days, road trips and so much more. Way up near the top of this list is fresh cherry pie. It just so happens that the woman I married is one of the greatest pie chefs the world has ever seen. The big issue is the best place to get fresh cherries is in Door County, Wisconsin; about 1,000 miles from home. As fate would have it, Mazda gave me a buzz to ask if I would be interested in taking a road trip in a 2014 Miata.

I couldn’t think of anything else that sounded better than 1,000 miles of topless fun on the way to a fresh and tasty pie.

The trip wouldn’t be all fun and games. Thanks to conflicting work schedules I only had a four-day window to make the trip happen, and most of the trip to Wisconsin would be in an overnight blast. It was late Wednesday evening as I packed the trunk full of clothing, camera equipment and an empty cooler for my cherries. The wife slid into the passenger seat, I lowered the top, and we set off into the night. 1,000 miles is a long distance, but the Miata is a willing dance partner and my desire for pie gives me strength.

Hit the jump to read about my epic search for pie with a Japanese roadster

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2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT - Driven

2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT - Driven

The Mazda Miata is regarded as one of the greatest driver’s cars in the world. Not only is it the best-selling roadster of all-time, but the Miata is one of the most raced cars ever created as well. If you want a cheap and enjoyable driving experience, the Miata can’t be beat. At least that used to be the case, anyways. Now the current generation car is nearly a decade old, and new challengers like the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ have arrived promising the same type of fun.

Mazda will be replacing the current NC-generation Miata with an all-new, fourth-generation car next year, but does the current car still deserve your attention? Mazda dropped one off in my driveway and I spent 8 days and drove more than 2,000 miles in the search for driving nirvana and some pie. In that time I learned a lot about this little roadster. Some of my thoughts are expected, but some other ones were quite surprising.

Is the Miata still the best cheap sports car in the world? Read on to find out.

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2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Driven

2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Driven

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is really one of the more polarizing roadsters available today. Those who are fans of it — myself included — rave about its handling, power-to-weight ratio, analog feel and balance on the track. Those who hate it argue that it looks like a "chick’s car," isn’t fast enough, too loud and never has all of the cool features found in modern cars.

Well, Mazda has — for the most part — ignored all of the MX-5 haters and focused on what the MX-5 lovers desire from the Japanese roadster. When Mazda redesigned the MX-5 in 2006, it listened to enthusiasts by adding in a Club Spec model that eliminated all of the higher-end features and replaced them with performance goodies, like Billstein struts, a strut tower brace and upgraded tires. Well, Mazda was gracious enough to bestow upon me a 2014 MX-5 Club for a week, and as a Miataphile, I was more than thrilled to get a crack at a new model.

I personally own a modified 2004 Mazdaspeed MX-5 that pumps out about 225 to 250 horsepower, so I had a good base to go off of for this review. Some of you may think that since my daily driver is a modded MX-5 that I may not find the new Club model all that thrilling, but you would be absolutely incorrect.

Click past the jump to read our Driven review of the 2014 Mazda Miata Club.

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Spy Shots: Mazda MX-5 and Alfa Romeo Spider Mule Laps the Nurburgring

Spy Shots: Mazda MX-5 and Alfa Romeo Spider Mule Laps the Nurburgring

Mazda and Alfa Romeo announced some time ago that they plan to join forces for the development of a small sports car that will replace the current MX-5 for Mazda and will revive the Spider for Alfa Romeo.

Today, we present to you the first mule of this upcoming project that we caught testing at the Nurburgring.

Both models will be built on a totally new chassis that features weight-saving technology to help reduce the total weight by about 220 pounds when compared to the current MX-5. Also, shared between the models is a new rear-wheel-drive system. Though they will be mechanically similar, the Mazda and Alfa models will look completely different from one another.

When it comes to the engine lineup, rumors suggest that the Alfa Romeo version will feature a four-cylinder, turbocharged gasoline engine with an output of about 150 horsepower. The Mazda roadster will get a 1.3-liter, turbocharged powerplant featuring SkyActiv technology and the same 150 horsepower.

It is unclear as to when the two models will hit the market, but rumors point toward the Mazda version will hit the market first with the Alfa Romeo version coming 6 to 12 months later.

Click past the jump to learn more about this MX-5 - Spider mule.

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2013 Mazda MX-5 Sport Graphite

2013 Mazda MX-5 Sport Graphite

If you haven’t heard anything about the MX-5 in the past few months it’s only because Mazda is quietly preparing to unleash the new generation soon. Still, in order to keep our attention focused on the model, Mazda announced today the MX-5 Sport Graphite. This release comes as no big surprise, as the MX-5 remains the world’s best-selling two-seat sports car with almost 1,000,000 units sold around the globe.

The model was initially unveiled in 1989 and it is currently in its third generation. All the three generations were built with the "Jinba ittai" credo in mind, which can be translated as "rider and horse should be one body."

What makes the MX-5 so cool is the fact that it managed to keep its origins during all the three generations, and each one was an evolution of the previous one.

Click past the jump to read more about the Mazda MX-5 Sport Graphite.

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Mazda to Debut a New Vehicle on Xbox Live

Mazda to Debut a New Vehicle on Xbox Live

With the ever evolving landscape of the auto industry, it’s easy to get left behind on new developments that can be categorized as a "world first".

Mazda’s probably well aware of that, which is why it is taking the never-before-taken step of unveiling a new car - a global debut, in fact - through a video game system.

Believe it or not, that’s exactly what the Japanese automaker is set to do after partnering with Xbox to introduce a new global model as part of the first-ever global live stream of a new vehicle introduction through the Xbox.

“It’s a digitally connected world, so what better way to reach our customers than through a connected platform like Xbox,” Russell Wager, vice president of marketing for Mazda, said.

”We were looking for a way to launch a global product and tie together our five separate reveals. Xbox not only gave us the platform, but allowed us to leverage our digital assets to drive a global audience to view the event.”

Mazda is keeping a lid on what kind of vehicle it’s going to unveil, but fortunately, we won’t have to wait too long to find out. The ground-breaking unveiling is scheduled to take place on June 26th in New York with the festivities being streamed globally, courtesy of Xbox Live, beginning at 9:00 p.m. EDT.

To drum up interest for the talked about debut, Mazda is sweeping through social media, touring the hashtag #GameChanger, alluding presumably to a car that will redefine its market.

Perhaps Mazda is gearing up to unveil the next-generation MX-5 Miata.

For now, your guesses are as good as ours because the whole event is being shrouded in so much secrecy that would make the Pentagon proud.

If you want to be part of the unveiling - and score a chance to win $2,500 and create your own dream trip to a music event of your choice - you can participate in the live broadcast and the accompanying sweepstakes.

Click past the jump to read some history on the MX-5

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