These Are the Key Reasons the 2016 Mazda Miata Has Our Attention

May 31, 2015 09:53 PM EDT | Jeff Jablansky

A fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster is almost ready for prime time. You know this because of countless teasers, auto show lead-ups, and announcements up to the moment of its launch.

In the automotive world, conventional wisdom dictates that when a new model is introduced, it's always better than the one it replaces. (Sometimes much, much better.) Forget everything you know about the status quo: The status quo has been elevated. The brand-new next-generation model is completely changed. All-new. Game-changing.

As in so many other consumer sectors, we've been trained to believe that the next best thing—different, often, for the sake of being different—is always around the corner.  But automobiles like the Miata, which serve the purpose of reminding us of the way things once were, or ought to be, cannot adhere to that mantra.

For a Miata to be better, it has to stay much the same.

The relatively low-volume Miata has attracted a loyal following over three decades by staying true to the mission of the NA (first-generation) car that debuted in 1989: To evoke the passion of British sports car motoring and add modern comfort, safety, and reliability. The NB Miata took that formula and ran with it. The third Miata, the NC (pictured here), introduced a lightweight folding hardtop to the mix, but it did much the same.

So, is there much doubt as to how the ND Miata will perform? Hardly. Based on the styling, weight reduction, and supplied dynamic data, the next-generation Miata has a fighting chance to continue to earn the respect of the faithful. Sure, we're eager to find out for ourselves if the steering is as dead-on, if the top is as easy to operate, and if the chassis is as unflappable. Is the engine still buzzy and happy? (Is there still a center-mounted storage compartment?) The real test will be left to the next generation of Miata owners, and we'll soon find out if they're as interested in preserving and advancing an important moment in time. Count us among those excited for a positive outcome.

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