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A quarter-century of Mazda Miata, with more to come

2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata 25th Anniversary Edition

(Greg Jarem)

Mazda occupied the last slot on 16 April’s frenetic first day of the New York auto show, and wisely kept the mood light and celebratory. And why not, when the MX-5 Miata, the most popular sports car of all time, was celebrating its 25th anniversary?

A year removed from the launch of an all-new model, Mazda announced it would produce a run of 25th Anniversary Edition Miatas, with 100 units earmarked for the US and the rest allocated for Japan and Europe. Each 25th Anniversary Edition Miata will wear Soul Red, with contrasting black detailing, inside and out. The special edition is an almost entirely cosmetic exercise, aside from some powertrain and chassis changes – most notably the inclusion of Bilstein shocks on manual-transmission models. Otherwise, 25th Anniversary Edition Miatas will retain the stock, 167-horsepower four-cylinder gasoline engine.

Not unlike Ford’s recognition of the Mustang’s 50th anniversary, which also was commemorated this week in New York, Mazda’s focus on the Miata was a wholehearted celebration of the car’s position in motoring history.

The festivities were not without some goofing at competitors’ expense. Robert Davis, senior vice president of Mazda’s operations in the US, listed off the supposed “Miata killers”, the sports cars that have failed to sustain consumer interest over the last quarter-century, from the Honda Civic del Sol to the Toyota MR2 Spyder.

The greatest failure, according to Davis? The short-lived, third-generation Mercury Capri that, ironically, shared some components with the Mazda 323.

“Embarrassing,” he said, shaking his head.

Davis did confirm that the next Miata will feature a chassis imbued with elements of the company’s SkyActiv powertrain-efficiency technologies. On display, adjacent to the presentation stage, was a stripped chassis of the next Miata with scant discernible details. Davis and Miata project manager Nobu Yamamoto noted that “every part is different,” on what they said would be the sharpest-ever Miata.

For the cadre of devotees in attendance, including members of local Miata owners’ clubs, that might be the greatest gift of all: assurances of many more anniversaries to come.

2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata 25th Anniversary Edition

(Mazda)

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