The ND Miata debut is around the corner. All we have so far is speculation. That said, it’s rather well-informed speculation on Mazda’s latest and greatest roadster offering.
All the big debuts have been unveiled. Two years ago, the Toyobaru twins – Scion FRS and Subaru BRZ. Then came the C7 Corvette and the Mk7 Volkswagen GTI. Finally, late last year the new Ford Mustang was unveiled as well as the new Subaru WRX STI. Seeing as nobody knows what the heck Mitsubishi is doing about the new Evo XI, all eyes are on Mazda. Yes, all eyes are on the new Mazda MX-5 Miata ND.
Just about everything online about the ND Miata is pure speculation. Yes, Mazda has dropped hints here and there about the new roadster, but there’s really not much concrete info. Many of these speculations are on the right track. Many however, are complete and utter nonsense – like a diesel Miata. Riiiiight. We’ll just skip over those, thank you very much. Let’s look at some of the fun stuff that actually makes sense.
ND Miata Reduced Weight
This bit is a must. How much lighter the car will be is a mystery. Miata enthusiasts want the ND Miata to be lighter. We are pretty sure the new car is going to be lighter, but achieving lightness with today’s design restrictions is not an easy task. Some people expect the ND Miata is going to be 2,000 lbs. Chances of that are slim to none. A good target would be 2,200lbs – And even so, this is still quite the challenging number to achieve. Even if Mazda manages to build the car to 2,300 lbs, that is in fact an achievement they are going to tout in advertising non-stop.
The fact of the matter is, the car doesn’t need to be 2,000 lbs unless it wants to be a Lotus Elise at Lotus Elise prices. The ND Miata, at 2,300 lbs with a slightly more powerful engine, would blow the NC Miata AND the Toyobaru GT86 twins away. It wouldn’t take much more horsepower to do this. Even if the new engine has the same 200 hp of the GT86, at 2,300 pounds, the performance advantage would be dramatic. Heck, 170HP at 2,300 pounds would be enough to beat the twins.
Back in Small Size
Here’s another speculation that’s bringing a lot of chit chat on Miata forums everywhere. The ND Miata’s size. This is yet another point of contention because size is often directly related to overall weight. A guy in size 46 jeans is not going to weigh anywhere close to the dude in 32s. The current NC Mazda MX-5 is, well, bigger than both the NA and NB. It’s also heavier. But here’s the thing, it’s not much heavier, yet it’s considerably bigger. This means that by now, in 2014, Mazda can very likely engineer a Miata that’s exactly the same size as the NC, yet much lighter.
This is where all the NA Miata fans pull out their pitchforks and condemn the NC Miata and its size. Well, too bad. The fact is that it’s almost definitive the ND Miata will be lighter. However, in overall dimensions, it’s likely the car is going to be very close to NC proportions. But guess what? That’s not a bad thing at all. The NC is not big by any means. The NC is smaller than the GT86 and it’s almost exactly the same length of the Ford Fiesta ST reviewed by us, only lower in height. I can’t think of another production car that is smaller apart from the FIAT 500 Abarth – not counting the stupid little town cars that I dare not mention their names.
ND Miata Price
This one’s a big deal. The NC is already quite expensive, specially in the upper trims with PRHT (Power Retractable Hard Top). In these upper trims, the car can cost over $30,000. Mazda does make a basic Sport trim that starts at $23,720. The problem is, no one wants it. It’s way too stripped. To get a Miata that has what you need and skips what you don’t, you’re looking at roughly $26,900. Therein lies the problem. The stripped NC at $23,720 is a black sheep because it’s too plain. You’d guess it would at least be good for the tuners or racers that are going to strip and mod it anyway. But even they don’t want it. This is because it has the 5-speed transmission instead of the 6-speed. That 5-speed is good for the autocrossers, because the gear ratios are suitable for shifting less on the auto x course, but it’s a con to just about everyone else.
If Mazda had offered the base sport model MX-5 with steel wheels to save money instead of alloy, that would have been far better than the 5-speed gearbox. The wheels can easily be swapped. The tranny, not so much. No shock tower brace? Fine. Aftermarket. No steering wheel controls? Who needs those anyway? For crying out loud, you don’t even have to stretch your arm out all the way to reach the stereo! Please tell me why one would even need miata steering wheel controls?
The bottom line is pretty simple, if Mazda is to be successful with the new ND Miata, that bottom trim sport model needs to have the same transmission as the more expensive trims. Furthermore, the price should be $23,000 for that. Then $25,000 for the middle trim (club, touring or whatever the heck they call it). The upper trims can then be whatever they need to be based on the toys added. Yes, yes, yes… I know… A base ND Miata with a 6-Speed priced at $20,000 would be great… But it ain’t gonna happen. Sorry. It’s 2015, not 2005. Even the Fiesta ST is at least $24,000 equipped with what you want on it. Of course, Ford always has better incentives, so the Fiesta ST could be had for less. But the point is, it’s absurd to think the Miata is going to be cheaper than the Fiesta ST. Base Fiesta yes, but Fiesta ST, no.
The Miata is never going to be about big horsepower. It would change the soul of the car. While I admit, I would love a factory V6 Miata… the chances of that ever happening are: go buy a Porsche Cayman. In 2015 mindsets, the customer is going to want more power than the NC currently has. For sure. There are way too many inexpensive cars pushing over 200HP to drop a car with a weak power to weigh ratio. No, 250 horsepower is not the right thing to do. Yes it would be fun. Yes, it should be done aftermarket, but the price point and insurance tiers for the Miata will not quite hit the mark. We have to be realistic here. The correct number is not necessarily 200 HP either, although that would be a great round number. Everyone remembers 200 horsepower at a car show. Nobody remembers 170 horsepower at a car show. Regardless, it’s the power to weigh ratio that matters. If the number is 170 HP, but the weight is low, there is no stock BRZ that could stop it.
And yes, expect Skyactiv – There’s no two ways about that one. Mazda is not going keep their best respected technology out of their halo car. Engine size? Who the heck knows? I vote 2.5 liters though.
Other things we can speculate about the ND Miata
1. Wheels with 4 lug nuts – The current Miata has 5 lugs. A lighter ND Miata would ideally be fit with 4 lug wheels. Sightings of ND Miata mules have been seen with 4 lug nut wheels. But Mazda, please make it a standard pattern 4 lug pattern – not some weird spacing that would make it impossible to buy aftermarket wheels for. Though if Mazda makes the bolt pattern like that of the Fiesta ST at 4×108, maybe Enkei would be bothered to tool up for RPF1s that would fit the FiST.
2. Manual retractable hardtop (RHT) – There has been lots of talk about this after Mazda filed a patent for it a while back. This design could offer the benefits of the NCs PRHT, but would be cheaper and lighter. Win, win. However, we’ve said it before, it’s not just the street cruising guys that like the benefits of a retractable hard top – THE RETRACTABLE HARDTOP NEEDS TO ALLOW THE FITTING OF AN AFTERMARKET ROLL BAR! We certainly hope Mazda realized this with the NC. The NC’s lack of aftermarket roll bar capabilities in the power retractable hard top model was the biggest downfall of the PRHT.
3. What about the Alfa Spider? – Apparently, FIAT realized it might cost too much to promote Alfa Romeo in the USA to try and sell a car that sells in small numbers anyway. Why try and push a new brand if they already have a successful dealer network for their FIAT brand? For this reason, the Miata-based Alfa Romeo Spider might have been re-badged. A bit. We’re now hearing rumors of FIAT changing their mind with their version of the Alfa Romeo MX-5 platform and rather badge it as a FIAT Abarth Spyder or some such something. VERY interesting. While an Alfa Miata would be cooler, the possibilities of an Abarth Miata are much higher and still pretty darn cool.
So Now What?
There are all kinds of comments on the internet about the possible unveilings of the ND Miata. Chicago, no. New York, possibly. Maybe the chassis only. In the meantime, Mazda keeps showing us all kinds of funny concepts and electric machines as a diversion. Quite frankly, nobody wants to see any of that right now. People want to see the ND Miata. The press wants to see the ND Miata. All the Miata clubs in the world want to see the ND Miata. In fact, even my wallet seems to want to see the new ND Miata.
We don’t want to spend endless hours speculating over the new Mazda MX-5 Miata ND. We’ve already done plenty of that without having to put it all down in writing. We will however continue to follow the stories and see where all this is going. Be sure to subscribe to our Miata section on RallyWays for more ND Miata stories like this one. They will only get better after the car is released.