Mazda unveils a smaller, lighter Miata that still delivers thrills – Los Angeles Times

Posted: Saturday, August 01, 2015

The bestselling two-seater in history is back.

Mazda, betting that the economy has recovered and Americans are ready to buy cars just for the fun of it, has unveiled its new Miata.

The popular drop top joins a growing list of small sports cars, signaling a post-crash resurgence of interest in vehicles that are more than people-movers.

Alfa Romeo is returning to the two-seat convertible market with a new 4C Spider. Fiat plans to introduce a new Spider too. Even stodgy Buick is introducing its first convertible in 25 years, the 2016 Cascada.

Mazda’s fourth-generation Miata, the first new MX-5 since 2006, is smaller and lighter than its predecessor, and delivers better fuel economy.

It’s an important vehicle for the company, which despite its reputation for building great cars has never been a substantial U.S. rival to Japanese competitors Toyota, Honda or Subaru.

“This is a halo car for Mazda,” said Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing for the online auto shopping site Edmunds. “It defines who they are, and how they look at automobiles.”

The 2016 MX-5 — like earlier Miatas, a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive convertible — weighs 2,332 pounds, boasts a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque, enough to propel it from zero to 60 miles per hour in under six seconds. Mazda boasts it is the fastest Miata ever built.

Priced at about $24,000 for the entry-level Sport edition and just over $30,000 for a loaded GT model, the new Miatas are expected to appeal to an older, male consumer.

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