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Chris Paukert

Aussie Mazda MX-5 Miata specs leak suggests power loss

Posted Sep 15th 2014 9:59AM

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata - studio front three-quarter view

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata engine spy shotMazda's 2016 MX-5 Miata reveal didn't include much in the way of specifications, but the car's debut seems to have blown the lid off of the rumourmill, with the latest word out of Australia including fresh claims of curb weight and engine output.

Before delving into the findings from, we're going to take a moment to find a few grains of salt. It's not that we don't trust the Oz publication, it's just that we wouldn't be surprised to learn their car's specifications will vary from that of our eventual North American car.

Of course, we don't expect the footprint of the new ND model to itself to differ much – it will still be the most compact Miata ever – overall length is expected to check in at just over 154 inches – that's about 1.4 inches shorter than the original NA Miata and over 4 inches shorter than today's NC generation, yet it'll ride atop a longer wheelbase and be slightly wider while sitting lower to the ground. sources indicate that a 1.5-litre Skyactiv four-cylinder will nestle low in the ND's engine bay, with a rating of just 96 kW – that's 129 horsepower, a 13-per cent drop in power over the Aussie-spec 2.0-litre four in the current Miata. Torque figures were apparently not disclosed by their source, but the publication expects the torque figure to come in above the 144 Nm (106 pound-feet) of the top-spec 1.5-litre four in the forthcoming Mazda2.

Countering that apparent shortfall is the car's hotly anticipated drop in weight. The ADM MX-5 is said to weigh 1,020 kilograms – that's just under 2,250 pounds – meaning Mazda would make good on its claimed 100-kg (220-pound) diet for the car. To put that number in perspective, ponder that a NA-spec 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C has a curb weight of 1,118 kilograms (2,465 pounds). True, it's about 3 inches longer, but it's also a car with a carbon-fibre tub, aluminum subframes, fiberglass skin and a deep-discount interior. Credit the Miata's shrinking footprint, an increased use of aluminum and a by-the-gram approach to engineering. Some back-of-the-envelope calculations reveals that's close to a 10-per cent weight drop, which should go a long way toward compensating for the loss in power.

We've previously heard rumours of the Miata having a Skyactiv engine displacing anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 litres, with the smart money seemingly being on Mazda's 2.0-litre engine seen in its Mazda3 compact. Despite the power drop, this 1.5-litre four could well provide enough motivation even for North American buyers, but we still wouldn't be surprised to see the 2.0 fitted to our cars.

Mazda has confirmed that the 2016 MX-5 Miata will make its auto show debut at the Paris Motor Show early next month... will it also take the opportunity to attach some more specifications to the next generation of its iconic roadster? Here's hoping. In the meantime, we've reached out to Mazda for clarification on these alleged specs and will get back to you if we learn more.

Related Gallery2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal
2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata design walkaround

Posted Sep 15th 2014 8:58AM

Mazda North America Director of Design Derek Jenkins points out lines on 2016 MX-5 Miata

By now, you've likely read what we think of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata's new looks both inside and out, and you've probably pored over the available photos and started to make up your own mind about the roadster's radically more aggressive new appearance.

More than likely, however, you haven't heard much from Mazda itself about its new design, and we're here to remedy that. Join Autoblog as we go over the new Miata from tip to tail with Derek Jenkins, Mazda North America's director of design. Jenkins, a veteran of both Audi and Volkswagen design studios, has been with the Japanese automaker for nearly four years, and he's kept a close eye in the ND Miata program along with his team in Irvine, CA.

Check out our video to see Jenkins explain his team's exterior and cabin handiwork and to learn a little more about why the new model graduates from the Miata's historically cute and friendly aesthetic to something altogether more assertive.

Image Credit: Gallery copyright 2014 Ronnie Fung / AOL

Teen Miata enthusiast and friend of Autoblog passes away

Posted Sep 9th 2014 3:00PM

Here's His Story And How To Help His Family

19-year-old Thomas Jost with his prized Mazda Miata

When Thomas' illness made it impossible for him to drive, he relied on friends to do it for him.

Attending the reveal of the 2016 MX-5 Miata and the subsequent 25th anniversary celebration at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca confirmed that the little roadster maintains broad appeal, one not limited to the elderly or a certain gender as detractors might have you believe. In fact, the assembled crowd was surprisingly youthful, particularly amongst the club racer set and tuners. But one young Miata owner and superfan unfortunately wasn't in attendance – Thomas Jost, 19, was busy fighting for his life in a Maryland hospital.

Sadly, it was a years-long battle he lost on Saturday afternoon.

Thomas, a Cleveland, OH-area teen, was at Maryland's National Institutes of Health for treatment as part of his ongoing battle with a rare auto-immune disease known as Chronic Mucocutaneous Candidiasis – the same genetic affliction that led to his mother's death when Thomas was four years old. Experimental treatments related to CMC would eventually weaken his immune system, making him susceptible to a virus that led to his passing.

Thomas was a diehard MX-5 fan. I know this because my son, Nate, counted Thomas among his best friends. Thomas' Mariner-Blue 1991 NA MX-5 was his first car, and my son describes him as "obsessed" with everything about his self-described "Smurfin' Miata." With the help of family and friends including my son, he not only customized the suspension, wheels and stereo on his Mazda, he eventually executed an automatic to manual transmission swap in his garage. He was also a member of the Autoblog community, often stealing away bits of time to read this website during his classes in high school. He was also an enthusiastic member of the Ohio Miata Owner's Association.

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata first engine shot revealed

Posted Sep 8th 2014 4:00PM

Clandestine engine photo of 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata prototype

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata - front three-quarter viewWe've dug deep for just about every scrap of 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata info available out of the car's California reveal celebration, but powertrain particulars have been especially hard to come by. While we still don't have engine specifications, the folks over at Autoweek have scored a nice scoop – the first underhood photos of one of the display cars.

In the image above, the ND-generation Miata is clearly shown to be powered by a Skyactiv inline four-cylinder, as expected, but its displacement remains unclear. The engine is most likely either the 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G engine offered in low-end Mazda3 and CX-5 models or the 2.5-litre Skyactiv-G found in those same vehicles' upper trims. In those iterations, the 2.0-litre generates 155 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque, while the larger-displacement engine nets out at 184 hp and 185 lb-ft. There is no sign of a turbocharger, a feature rumoured to be fitted to at least one test mule. There has also been previous rumours of a 1.5-litre Skyactiv engine, possibly for overseas markets.

The 2.0-litre strikes us as the most likely scenario, particularly as Mazda has worked diligently to save every gram in the new car, dropping a pledged 100 kilograms (220 pounds) over the current model, even while adding content. It's entirely possible that the alleged turbo car was, in fact, a mule for the Miata's Alfa Romeo sister car, which is expected to have a wholly different powertrain. Or it could simply be a second engine option for an eventual Mazdaspeed variant, perhaps.

Autoweek also notes that the battery is located in the very front of the engine compartment, as opposed to in the trunk like the NA and NB Miata. The new car's passenger compartment has been pushed back in the chassis and weight distribution near 50:50 has been pledged, so it likely wasn't necessary to put the battery in the back where it would eat up precious cargo space and require the added weight of longer leads. According to AW's report, packaging is extremely tight, with prominent coil-on-plug fixtures up top and a four-point strut tower brace vying for eyeball time.

The publication goes on to speculate that the MX-5 could have output figures lurking somewhere between Mazda's existing 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre engines, possibly with new heads and revised airflow. That makes sense to us, as we'd expect the ND to make a similar horsepower figure to the current car, if only to stave off criticism from spec-sheet bench racers.

Related Gallery2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal
2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Reveal

News Source: Autoweek

Image Credit: Lead image copyright 2014 Autoweek | related gallery 2014 Ronnie Fung / AOL

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata first in-car observations

Posted Sep 8th 2014 10:58AM

Driver's area, 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata reveal car

We've had few days to digest the all-new 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata since the roadster was first revealed on Wednesday evening when we offered you our first impressions. Since that time, we've gone back and looked at the car a number of times in person here in California, and we've even seen it briefly run under its own power (okay, it was more of a saunter). What we didn't get the chance to do at the reveal, however, was sit inside the car. We've since been able to remedy that, and while we haven't been allowed to drive the new roadster, we do have some initial in-car impressions to share with you.
  • First, the location and feel of the major controls is quite excellent. The three-spoke steering wheel is an MX-5 specific item – it's not shared with any other Mazda. That's vital, because others would likely be too big in diameter or have the wrong rim thickness. The wheel's redundant controls seem to be well laid out and the airbag boss is very small. The column tilts, but unfortunately and somewhat inexplicably, it still doesn't telescope.
  • Pedals are well-spaced, and the six-speed manual has the same short throws and positive engagement that we've come to know and love.
  • The more supportive seats are positioned closer to the floor of the car, and the slightly wider passenger cell itself seems to be set a bit further back in the wheelbase than the NC.
  • Legroom feels roughly analogous to the NC, mirroring what we've been told. Headroom is said to be about the same as the exiting car as well, but without being able to put up the soft top, that's hard to assess.
  • We haven't measured it, but it looks like the new car has a longer dash-to-axle ratio, too. Combine all that with a lower hood, lower ride height and a slightly faster windshield rake, and you've got the recipe for a racier feel from behind the wheel.
  • Speaking of the view out, the front fenders are more pronounced, giving an evocative view out of the windshield and providing a clearer idea of where the front wheels are placed in corners.

Image Credit: Live images copyright 2014 Ronnie Fung / AOL

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata firsthand impressions and notebook scribblings

Posted Sep 4th 2014 12:00PM

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata - front three-quarter live reveal image

In a temporarily repurposed airport hanger in Monterey, CA, the world caught its first glimpse of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata, and I was fortunate enough to attend in person along with my fellow auto media colleagues, Mazda execs, a couple hundred Miata devotees and, oddly, a fair number of Duran Duran fans too. The klieg lights have dimmed, Simon Le Bon is no longer ringing in my ears, and I'm left to ponder what I've seen. I've scavenged my notes – and my Twitter feed – to give you some details and brief thoughts on the 2016 Miata thus far.

Fair Warning: I can't claim to be completely impartial (I own a second-generation NB Miata and consider the Miata franchise to be one of but a few sacrosanct franchises in modern motoring), but I will share my honest first impressions of the new car, both good and bad... READ MORE

Image Credit: Live images copyright 2014 Ronnie Fung / AOL

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata reveal livestream is here and now

Posted Sep 3rd 2014 8:45PM

Mazda MX-5 Miata reveal video

Let's not understate the significance and difficulty of what's been accomplished here. In this ever-connected, constantly surveilled modern auto industry, Mazda has pulled a coup – it's kept a new vehicle under wraps. Yes, we've seen hacked up and camouflaged mules and maybe a form under a sheet, but Mazda is about to reveal its next-generation MX-5 Miata, and the car – let alone its specifications – hasn't been leaked anywhere yet. Not via clandestine camera phone snapshot, not by patent drawing, not by leaked ad copy, not even by diecast model. Believe us, we've looked.

And this isn't just some humdrum crossover or workaday compact, it's the Miata, the world's most popular roadster, apple of the enthusiast community's eye and seeming center of gravity for the Japanese automaker. For those who are genuinely excited about cars – about motoring – this is an impressive feat. If anything, Mazda's radio silence regarding the fourth-generation ND Miata has only served to heighten our anticipation for a model that probably won't reach showrooms for another year.

So, what's true and what's false among all the rumours? Will the already lightweight Miata really shed hundreds of kilograms? What exactly will live under hood and drive those rear wheels?

Let's all tune in to the car's live global reveal and find out. It's being staged simultaneously in Monterey, CA, Tokyo and Barcelona. It starts at 6:00 PM Pacific (9:00 PM Eastern), and Autoblog will be on hand in the Golden State with all the pomp, circumstance, and Duran Duran that you can handle, ready to delivery further analysis and images. Check back with us later this evening.

2015 North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year list revealed

Posted Aug 17th 2014 5:59PM

This is the first time we can recall the eligible nominees in the truck/utility segment outnumbering the number of qualifying cars.

'Back to school' ads are are spooling up on TVs and in newspapers everywhere, and the auto industry's model picture is pretty clear for 2015, which means it's time for a new North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year long list.

For 2015, the jury will consider some 28 entrants in the car category, and 29 models are in contention for the truck/utility award, a category that includes crossover vehicles. This year's list (click here to view) is as long and varied as the industry itself, with everything from inexpensive subcompacts like the Honda Fit to exotically styled, constructed and powered dream cars like the BMW i8 up for consideration... READ MORE

Choosing the 10 Best Cars for 2014: Behind the Scenes

Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to bow at Woodward Dream Cruise?

Posted Aug 5th 2014 10:00AM

2015 Dodge Challenger R/T

A few days ago, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis made an appearance on a popular Detroit morning radio show, Dave & Chuck The Freak on WRIF 101, to talk up the company's Woodward Dream Cruise display later this month. During the interview, Kuniskis gave the hosts an intriguing exclusive that has us thinking that a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat reveal is just around the corner.

While he stopped short of confirming specifics, Kuniskis told the live radio audience:

"I'm going to break something here that we haven't told anybody yet ... We have a very significant performance announcement coming on Tuesday of Dream Cruise ... And then the car that that performance is associated with will also be on site Saturday, so the first time anyone gets to see it will be here in Detroit at Dream Cruise. We'll announce it Tuesday, then come down Saturday and you can see the car.

All of this happened, incidentally, as Kuniskis was about to get into the passenger seat of a 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat with one of the show's radio personalities for a quick drive of the 707-horsepower coupe.

Given all of this, it certainly sounds like the Charger SRT Hellcat (or at the very least, another performance model or technology), will be announced on Tuesday, August 12, and then the car will be shown for the first time on Saturday, August 16 at Dodge's Woodward Dream Cruise display. Of course, with no more specifics to go on, the reveal could be absolutely anything, right down to a new Mopar striping package for the Dodge Dart. That said, we're thinking Hellcat, especially as prototypes of the supercharged four-door have been spotted prowling area streets for some time now.

We'll know soon, but for now, we can hardly wait.

News Source: Dave And Chuck The Freak Podcast via iTunes