Mazda debuted the MX-5 Miata 25th Anniversary Edition during a press conference at the New York International Auto Show . A global announcement, this limited-edition automobile will be sold as a 2015 model with only 100 vehicles being slated for sale in the United States. The anniversary edition was built not only as a tribute to the unassuming diminutive roadster that sparked a large automotive impact but also to celebrate every owner and car enthusiast it’s won over throughout its 25-year history.
“The original concept behind the MX-5 was so simple: to offer the pure joy of a lightweight sports car that moves precisely as the driver intends,” said Takashi Yamanouchi, chairman of the board, Mazda Motor Corporation. “While responding to increasing safety and environmental requirements, in the 25 years since its launch we have had to continually reinvent the MX-5 – far beyond a simple evolution – in order to stay true to that original ideal. The history of the MX-5 is one of changing everything in order to stay the same, a history of innovating in order to preserve.”
On February 9, 1989, the Chicago Auto Show witnessed the global introduction of a vehicle so unexpected yet so secretly coveted that 25 years later in New York that same initial buzz continues to loudly surround a car that inspired the rebirth of a once-dismissed segment and inspired countless competitors. With the genuine aim of crafting a lightweight, fun-to-drive sports car, the MX-5 Miata was born. And not a vehicle limited to only the deep-pocketed select few but one built and produced specifically for anyone with a steady heartbeat for driving. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, MX-5 is continually humbled for being a fun-to-drive benchmark for the last two-and-a-half decades.
Inspired by famed British roadsters of the 1960s, MX-5’s first generation (model years 1990-1997) was sincere in focusing on Mazda’s mantra of the Jinba Ittai driving experience, or “oneness between car and driver,” and creating a distinct appeal to one’s senses.
The result was a lightweight and compact open-top two-seater with a front mid-ship engine on a rear-wheel-drive platform. With a nearly 50:50 front-rear ratio weight distribution and a low yaw inertia moment, the MX-5 was a driver’s dream. Add a distinctive design – its retractable headlights defined this generation – and an entry MSRP of $13,8001, the MX-5 Miata became an affordable dream.
Its layout and design dedicated to balance and precision, the first-generation MX-5 was given a powertrain focused on smooth, linear accelerator response rather than raw power. Offering a 1.6-liter engine (and later a 1.8-liter engine), the decision paid off with the best possible outcome of exhilarating direct handling and superb control. And consumers and critics took notice with the MX-5 Miata garnering several “Car of the Year” and “Top Ten” distinctions.
The second-generation MX-5 Miata (model years 1999-2005) was announced in October 1997 at the Tokyo Motor Show and featured a power boost, standard glass rear windows and fixed headlights. MX-5 was later certified as a Guinness World Records-holder for “best-selling two-seater sports car” in May 2000 when production reached 531,890 vehicles.
Announced at the Geneva Motor Show in February 2005, the third-generation MX-5 (model years 2006-present) was awarded the highly-respected Car of the Year Japan award. A complete redesign, this generation saw the introduction of the 2.0-liter MZR engine. Global production reached 900,000 units in February 2011, which resulted in an update of the Guinness World Records books.
With each subsequent generation, the basic principle of fun-to-drive-for-all remained but also had to be adapted for changing consumer expectations, advancements in technology and global safety requirements. The Jinba Ittai driving experience evolved and improved as well, to the point where its essence is now an essential part of every Mazda built, from sub-compacts to SUVs. The 25-year history of the MX-5 Miata showcases the absolute pursuit of a unique driving feel in which the car and driver become one, and also is a chronicle of how far Mazda has grown to establish its own unique style of driving exhilaration.
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