By on June 4, 2012

I’m not afraid to admit I’m wrong (though I tend to be right nearly every single time without fail. So there.). When I saw that Mazda had asked Jalopnik readers for their thoughts on the next MX-5, I oscillated between sheer terror (at the prospect of reading a bunch of keyboard jockeys telling engineers how to do their jobs, i.e. every press launch) and total Schadenfreude.

The next MX-5 is more than likely “locked in” past the point of no return. Styling, engineering and powertrains are all but locked in, and not a damn thing can be done to change them, even though the next MX-5 will have to be tweaked a bit to become an Alfa Romeo. That’s a shame. Mazda might be wise to listen to some of the suggestions put up by Jalopnik’s readers.

It turns out that I wasn’t alone in feeling apprehensive. Reader “tobythesandwhich” composed a brilliant satire

Well this can only end badly. Suggestions WILL Include: 
-1200lb weight 
-No safety features whatsoever. People don’t really hurt/die from car crashes. It’s a government cover up to try and control us 
-Must have at least 600hp and a turbo AND supercharger 
-Must be able to go off road and scale mountains 
-Must cost less than $5000. Because everything that costs more than that enters V6 Mustang territory 
-Must get at least 400mpg while maintaining constant aggressive driving 
-Must have pop-up headlamps, reverse opening hood, and give fuck-all about Pedestrian Safety Regulations 
-Must have an interior decked out in leather on leather on leather while having a 40000 watt stereo system that we’ll still end up bitching about because it weighs more than 2lbs 
-Must have a Manual Transmission with no less than 100 Gears. Us Jalops love to shift. And if you even consider offering an Automatic for the sake of keeping the model alive I (And the Jalopnik community) swear to god we will kidnap the families of the Designers. Then burn their houses down and fornicate their wives while wearing their slippers and robes.

Feel free to chime in Jalopnik. I know this is what you want.

In the end, most of the suggestions seem to be firmly grounded in reality, life experience and prior ownership – the kinds of things that auto journalists aren’t usually brimming with, even if they have owned a Miata or three.

Among the suggestions listed were a la carte optioning (a big yes, as anyone who has tried to order a CX-5 or Mazda3 can attest to), classic styling and enough room for a 6’2″ individual, wearing a helmet to clear the “broomstick test”. All of those, plus say, an inch more leg roof (tilt/telescoping wheel perhaps) would go along way to increasing comfort without making the car much larger or heavier.

Rather than catalog every single good idea, you might as well go and read the thread. My personal theory is that Mazda thought they could get some free publicity by “empowering” Jalopnik readers by “engaging in a conversation” about the next MX-5. Then they could promptly ignore all the suggestions, since the car was a done deal, and wait for the praise to roll in. Hopefully there’s still time for them to listen.



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68 Comments on “Mazda Courts Jalopnik Readers With Next MX-5, Gets More Than They Bargained For...”

  • avatar

    Did anyone suggest a factory shooting brake option to replace the ‘vert top and trunk? That plus a MazdaSpeed turbo is really all the MX-5 needs to make it better in my book.

  • avatar

    Design lock happens at this summer, the car weighs 1800lbs thanks to high strength steel, has the same interior volume as current car, and begins production spring 2013. Montego Blue returns-yeah, in my dreams.


  • avatar

    6’2″? Really?

    How about, oh, 6’8″?

    • 0 avatar

      Well, I’m 6’3″ and can’t fit in the damn thing. My automotive salvation for an affordable, balanced, enthusiast oriented, rear wheel drive car will have to come from an FR-S, unless Mazda’s engineers can work some kind of miracle and provide a lower seat position that doesn’t have me staring straight ahead into the crossbar on the top of the windscreen.

      • 0 avatar

        Yea, the broomstick-test suggestion was def one of the best ones; i have the same problem and am 6’2.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m 6’3″ and race a Miata. I have the seat all the way back and notched out the transmission tunnel to make more room for myself. I fit but like a glove (and not in a Jim Carrey way).

        I’m on the list for the BRZ and hoping that when mine comes in I will fit well (but can pass up on it if not). There’s always the RX8 but they are so problematic it’s not worth it. The zoom zoom manufacturer really doesn’t offer much to match that moniker today. If you want a 2+2 built to be a sports car you are quite limited in options.

      • 0 avatar

        “If you want a 2+2 built to be a sports car you are quite limited in options”

        Not true, provided you have a lot of money and/or are willing to consider, eg, the Camaro or Mustang.

        I’ve always wanted a Miata, but it’s just not going to happen. Ever.

      • 0 avatar

        My old NC Miata and a Camaro with a sunroof actuall have exactly the same lack of headroom. My hair brushes the headliner in a Camaro without a sunroof, and I have about two inches of head room in the Mustang that I ended up getting.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m 6’1″ tall but with a long torso, I don’t fit in the MX-5 :-(

      • 0 avatar

        I’m 5’10” with a long torso and need to crook my neck to see the stop lights. You tall guys need to ask Mazda to put a ‘foamectomy’ option on the checklist.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve read the hints about what to do if you’re tall (cut out the seat foam, bold the seat directly to the floor and eliminate the tracks) and while it’s appealing in a hardcore, it’d be nice to have a car that other people can drive in a pinch.

      • 0 avatar

        My “specs”, and problem, exactly. Out of all cars I’ve ever driven, the one that fit me the best was the S2000; talk about like a glove; so Mazda is not that far away.

    • 0 avatar

      No, no, a thousand times no. A car simply cannot be built to really “fit” people over a two foot difference in height. Sure, you can build a vehicle that will physically fit people over that range, but there will always be a sweet spot for whom the car will feel the most “right.”

      To get enough room for someone who is 6’8″, you will either need to raise the roofline 6+”, lower the floor to the point that it scrapes on speed bumps, or remove all the seat padding.

      If you make the car fit someone who is pushing 7 feet tall, it will no longer fit those of us who are short as well as it does now. I’m 5’4″, and most cars have belt lines too high to be comfortable for me. The Miata is one of the few cars that feel like everything is in the “right” place for someonne my height. I feel lost in most other cars, my Challenger included, where if I slide the seat up far enough to be comfortable, I then have to open the door very wide to get out comfortably.

      • 0 avatar

        Amen to that. I’m 5’7″ and my Miata fits me perfectly. Some cars just do not work with some people. It’s just life.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve been thinking about this, and I think this constant begging for space for taller individuals cannot coexist with the wishes of the “Best and Brightest” to return to more “sane” wheel and tire sizes. Why?

        If you increase headroom, you raise the height of the roof, reduce the height of the floor, or both. When the body gets “thicker” in height, you need larger wheels to maintain ground clearance and not make the wheels look out of proportion to the body. You also end up with longer wheelbases to keep the car from looking stubby.

        You want a return to 15″ wheels? Then you need to return to early 90s car proportions.

      • 0 avatar

        Pretty much you are spot on. All vehicles are a compromise and the market just doesn’t add up. There aren’t that many 6’+ compared to sub 6′ buyers for the vehicle. That’s not to say that they don’t exist, just you don’t make up the profit segment of the market.

        I agree and it sucks, but that is the reality. On the other hand I can recall sitting in a few Vipers and they fit 6’+ people with no problem and shorter people struggle to sit in one of those comfortably. so maybe the trade off there isn’t too bad.

      • 0 avatar

        15″ wheels are great; all of my cars are in the 13″-15″ range, and other than the PITA of finding tires for the odders sizes, I love em’.

        Just get away from the chunky pillbox school of design and you are home free. I love the form over function greenhouse of 70s-80s era BMWs/most everything else! I know it will never fly with everyone wanting to look all bada**, but no reason you can’t make something Honda Fit-esque that’s a bit more sporting in appearance and goes like stink…

    • 0 avatar

      OH! For love of Pete – Shut up and get some bones removed.

      (Actually, it is a wee bit cramped.)

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “How about, oh, 6’8″?”

      People of that height are far enough beyond average human size that Mazda probably just wrote them out of the Miata’s design parameters.

      Not to gloat, but being 5’10” is feeling pretty good.

  • avatar

    I’m sure most of the vehicle is locked in, such as structure, suspension (maybe not some fine-tuning of some bushings & spring/damping rates), powertrains (skyactiv 2.0 gasoline i’m sure is a definite), but things like offering a la carte options could definitely still be considered, as well as some of the option packs and what they should include. Color choices possibly as well

  • avatar

    My own suggestions:

    Use the older, round grille and simpler nose, but keep the headlights.
    Build a few parts from carbon fiber to reduce weight.

    Remove unnecessary sound equipment, or at least make the sound bits an option.

    Off a special edition that comes in a Lotus-ish paint job, to pay a tribute to the Elan that inspired the Mx-5 to start with.

    At Lalop, everyones asking for more power but I think that the factory 167hp is good enough, it’ll be even better with less weight.

    I find it a bit worrying that Mazdas asking for advice from random posters on the internet, we all know what focus grouping and such brings us.

    Also, DON’T do these things:

    Make the grille bigger
    Add 20 more speakers
    Add 5 cup holders
    Use styling from the Furai (its ugly)
    Stick on a turbo or a supercharger, 167hp is enough! If you really need more, tweak the exaust.
    Make it a hybrid
    Make it 4WD

  • avatar

    “-Must cost less than $5000. Because everything that costs more than that enters V6 Mustang territory”

    This made me laugh. How can it be that the Mustang only occasionally makes it to the top 40 sellers list when it is the answer to so many basement dweller’s dreams? The ones that do sell around here fall into one of two categories: high end V8 cars with names longer than GT and rentals. I’m not sure that I’ve seen a single owner-driven V6 Mustang from the current model year. I see plenty of infirm baby-boomers in Shelbys, Bosses, Saleens, or Roushes though.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      V6 Mustangs invariably come with a rental bar-code on the window in the Pacific Northwest. I see plenty of owner-driven 5.0 Mustangs and both V6 and V8 Camaros around here – the V6 Stang is just rental fleet fodder.

      It’s not a bad car, but the $23k headline price gets a Stang few buyers will want. I’ve rented optioned up V6 Mustangs which I wouldn’t mind owning, but they’re hitting Genesis Coupe V6 territory.

      • 0 avatar

        V6 stangs can be talked down on price. I keep posting this everywhere, as it just seems to come up over and over. Window sticker on my base manual V6 was $24k with an adjusted dealer markup of $8955. I paid $19,200.

      • 0 avatar

        So you’re saying that the dealer wanted over $30K but sold it for under $20K? Why are Ford dealers so confident that their customers like having their intelligence insulted? I was at a Ford dealer recently with my business partner looking for a pickup truck. They were pushing an EB that I vetoed and I noticed that they had six Boss 302s, all with twenty some thousand in ADM. Fortunately, that was enough to help me convince my friend that we shouldn’t do business with said operation.

      • 0 avatar

        Correct. The “Sticker” price with ADM (Adjusted dealer markup) was $32,xxx. It was so insane that it wasn’t even the starting price when I sat down to talk numbers. We started at like $21,xxx.

  • avatar

    Little chance that Mazda will read any of our collective drivel, but as an MX-5 owner of long standing I may as well vent. Weight creep, power to weight issues, poor fuel economy relative to power output, and mediocre styling are a few of my beefs. All of thes could be easily fixed in the next generation. Why cannot Mazda achieve 30 mpg or better on this package when sports cars with 4 times the power can best it for highway mileage while blowing the MX-5 doors off? Could it be that lack of competition has made Mazda complacent about this market? Mazda cannot keep pace even with Porsche on the will to constantly improve platforms like the Boxster at a rate 2-3 times faster than MX-5 improves. Get with the program Mazda or we may all start looking for a pre-owned Boxsters or Z4s.

    • 0 avatar

      I expect fuel economy to be addressed with the SkyActiv engines, but the Miata is the most fuel efficient rear wheel drive car on the market, other than the Smart, which doesn’t count.

      The Miata has not gained a single pound since 1994, but gained 40 HP.

      • 0 avatar

        You must be trolling. NA 1.8 is 100 lbs heavier than NA 1.6, NB is 100 lbs heavier than NA 1.8, NC is 100 lbs heavier than NB. Give or take.

        2012 BMW Z4 28i 6MT 23/34/27 (1000 lbs heavier, 240 hp)
        2013 Porsche Boxster PDK 22/32/26 (manual is 20/30/24)
        2004 Toyota MR2 6MT 23/30/26 (older)
        2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 6MT 21/30/24 (1000 lbs heavier, 2+2, 290 hp)
        2012 Mazda MX-5 6MT 21/28/24 (city/hwy/combined)

        Not really a fair comparison:
        Lexus GS450h 29/34/31
        Infiniti M35h 27/32/29

        The Miata has always had terrible to middling fuel economy for cars of its weight and power since the NA.

      • 0 avatar

        There’s EPA and there’s actual road conditions, and they are unrelated. Road and Track just publised a comparison test of the Genesis 2.0T, Miata, and BRZ. With an EPA number of 21/30, the turbo Genesis returned 14.6 mpg. Driven in the same manner and the same conditions, the 21/28 Miata returned 23.9 mpg. The 22/30 BRZ returned 25.1 mph. Physics still has more to do with economy than politicians that think they’re gods do. The Hyundai carried an extra 940 lbs compared to the Miata. That accounts for some of the 64% greater fuel consumption of the Genesis Turbo. The inefficiency of turbocharged engines in real world conditions makes up for the rest of it.

  • avatar

    I decided to post there. We can always dream right? Here’s my list

    I’m currently an S2000 owner, but you could make me a future Miata owner if you follow a couple of these suggestions:

    The miata will always eventually evolve into a track car given enough time and owners. Make it easier for us by doing the following:
    1. Ditch the roll hoops. Make a proper rollbar with a harness bar standard and good looking, that can pass the broomstick test, and is NASA/SCCA rule compliant.
    2. Add seats with built in harness slots, see above. sub belt slots/clips would be an added plus.
    3. Have someone who is 6’2 sit in the seat and build it around them.

    Here’s how my MX-5 lineup would look:
    Whole line:
    -Torsen rear diff
    -sport seats/supension option availaible on all trims
    -sport package will be a $2-3k option, but parts will be Bilstein/eibach/recaro
    -2.0 skyactiv motor motor on the base
    -maybe a skyactiv-T? for the speed, otherwise the current 2.3T works just as well adapted for RWD. At miata weight the car doesn’t need more than 200hp or so.
    -base weight below 2200#
    -adjustable steering wheel
    -Kodo design language
    5×114 bolt pattern

    Sport (stripper)
    -Manual everything
    -16×7 alloys

    Touring (Lux)
    -Power everything
    -steering wheel controls
    -17×7 alloys

    -beefier rear diff for the added power
    -Sport suspension standard
    -sport seats standard
    -17×8 wheels, or 17×7,8 stagger, in the aesthetic of the RX-8 R3 (I love those rims)
    -Make a drug deal with Dunlop or Hankook to get Star Specs or RS-3s or equivalent as the standard tire.
    -maybe throw in an SCCA membership like Subaru used to do with the WRX?

    • 0 avatar

      You want different seats and suspension? Just to run in a stock class?

      Do it yourself!

      • 0 avatar

        First off on the suspension: Miatas have offered a high spec suspension for some time now, and it is still currently an option.

        Highly bolstered sport seats don’t fit everyone, nor do most people like them. They offered some great Recaros in the RX-8 R3 that weren’t available in the lesser ones. BMW and Audi offer a more bolstered seat in their sport packages as well for reference.

        Miata seats traditionally have not had shoulder guide slots, and if it had attachments for a harness built into the structure like an Elise does, that would be all the better. Some people prefer the look of an OE solution, myself being one of them. In my S2K in particular, the only options are to heavily modify the interior.

        If you try and track a convertible, you will run into many clubs that demand these mods done to get it on the track. If I were able to pay $3k extra when buying the car for a 90% ready to go track package, rather than $3k for a solution with cut up plastic and seats that rub on interior panels.

        And personally, I don’t care about class. I just want to be able to get out there in the first place, and short of autocross, there is not a single track on the east coast that will take a stock convertible without some semblance of those mods, and very few instructors that would ride with you either.

    • 0 avatar

      All of that sounds fine, except for the “Kodo design language”.

  • avatar

    Can we get it to 6’3.5″ capability? Not too snug under the wheel, either?

  • avatar

    I own a six-speed ’01 Miata Sport, and most of the time it sits in the garage on the battery tender, waiting for its annual oil change. It’s just not that stirring, despite the sublime chassis. Less than the sum of its parts.

    Subaru and Toyota teamed up to make the Miata I always wanted: fastback shape, a little extra utility, a touch more torque. The Miata has always been an excellent starting point for an affordable, light, RWD coupe. However, it took a clean-slate effort from a completely different manufacturer to make it happen.

    Can’t wait to get a FR-S.

    • 0 avatar

      I miss the RX-8. I think a they could be the masters of the turbo V6 if they wanted, and it would be a giant killer. The Toyota GT 86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ are a definite benchmark.

  • avatar

    I agree with almost everyone. It needs to have more room for us larger people. I am only 6ft, but don’t fit in one(long torso). And have huge feet, which don’t fit in it either. More HP is always nice. Say…220 or so.

    • 0 avatar

      Stats show that North Americans continue to get bigger (taller and fatter). So, if they intend the Miata to sell well here they need to take that into account. No doubt they will.

  • avatar

    I have a 2002 Miata. Its weak points, imo, are poor mileage (24mpg for 142hp), vibrations at certain speeds that a lot of us can’t eliminate, noise, and comfort. The seats have never been very good throughout the years, even for smallish guys like me (I’m still taller than the average female, but they don’t seem to buy many Miatas). And while purists decry tilt/telescoping steering as luxuries, I consider a comfortable driving position to be more important than a mere luxury. Some of us don’t need them, but others really others do.

    The roof operation was greatly improved in the current generation – I can’t think of a way to make it better. The current generation does have too much body roll though.

    At least improve the mileage. I didn’t buy the car for that, but it would make me feel better about the horsepower I’m getting.

  • avatar

    I just ask that Mazda give it better milage, and less of a smily face.

  • avatar

    At least a bit larger inside than the earlier ones; to allow for driving with the top down without freezing ones ears off, and with the top up without banging ones head into it.

    Keep the manual top light and close enough to both lower and raise with the right hand, while seated in the drivers seat. I always loved that feature of the Miata, distinguishing it from the motorized top guys.

    NO turbos! Driving turboed manual transmission cars to anywhere near their potential, is simply waay to involved; and a Miata is supposed to be easy going. If they have to make some ‘Ring statement, at least make it optional.

    HIDs, preferably curve following. They already do this in the 3, I believe.

    Really sweat shift and clutch action.

    Leave enough difference between rotor size and wheel arches to allow for wheel/tire combos with some semblance of tire sidewalls.

    Seat heaters and a good heating system in general. It’s a claustrophobic car to be stuck with the top up in, simply because it’s a bit nippy.

    Keep the front overhang short enough, and far enough of the ground to not have to slow down for every bump for fear of losing front bodywork. It’s a road car, not a LeMans racer.

    Factory points for mounting a trunk lid luggage rack with capacity for a checked size and weight suitcase. As well, factory mounted trailer hitch option.

    • 0 avatar

      So you want the top high enough to not bang your head, but low enough to close easily, but complain that the interior is too small?

      A tow hitch?! On a Miata?!

      Um, Mazda does make a car with lots of headroom and a tow hitch. It’s called a CX9. Sadly, I don’t think it has a sweaty transmission.

  • avatar

    A marketing stunt if ever there was one. At Derek’s suggestion I have been reading the book Car: A Drama of the American Workplace by Mary Walton (an excellent read, by the way), and if nothing else it has provided me a solid appreciation of the amount of time, effort, blood, sweat and tears that go into the production of a car. At this point they probably can’t even change the optional paint colors on the next model. Unless they are taking suggestions for the 2015 MX-5, this is pure hype.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup. I read an article a couple (3?) years ago on the design and engineering goals for the next-gen Miata.

      They were planning to go back to the Miata’s roots. Simpler and lighter. I just hope they don’t screw up the styling or price it out of reach. ‘Cuz I really want one!

    • 0 avatar

      Love the avatar. Thats the best looking engine ever. Shame Ford didnt just use the top part again. To me this was like art.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      I think they need to offer a Wagon version with a diesel. Someone had to say it.

      Actually, since their formula for success has been small, light and affordable it’s hard to change much without compromising what makes it successful (and still stay affordable). I have a ’94 and my only real request would be to reduce the noise level.

      With Skyactiv the fuel economy should improve, but I don’t think that’s a big factor.

  • avatar

    ROTARY!!!!!!! That is all.

  • avatar

    It must also be able to patch up all my previous relationships and save my marriage.

  • avatar

    The Miata is a Barbie car with no real comfort for anyone over 6 feet tall . Maybe that’s one thing they should focus on changing ?

  • avatar

    My only suggestion: name it Miata again.

  • avatar

    Shocked we didn’t get answers about optimization for DUIs, driving naked and/or in-car “onanism”.

    …oh wait, that would be if you asked the Jalopnik writing staff.

  • avatar

    I think this fellow may have a few design ideas for them:

  • avatar

    Okay, my turn. What I DEMAND to know is: WHY did Mazda ask that OTHER web site instead of right here at good ol’ TTAC, huh? That right there ticks me off, loyal member I am.

    Soapbox off, now.

    I own a 2007 MX5 Sport, granite gray, 5 speed. CD player, front speakers only, no MP3 or any inputs except for the 12V standard. Tilt wheel (sort of…), no cruise, but A/C, which can be a godsend, as the footwells get pretty hot, and using it sometimes with the top down feels great. I’m around 5’10 (shrinking?), 61 yrs. old and I fit fine, one of my neigbors is 6′ and fits fine. Another friend is much taller and cannot fit, so he bought a 2009 Mustang 45 year anniversary model, which is awesome, I might add.

    The car is a great deal of fun and wifey loves it, too. How can you make it better? I suppose a bit longer for interior room, but need to watch the weight, lest Mazda destroy the concept. A “shooting brake”? I like that a great deal. A definite possibility to advance the model. Add a couple of chrome touches like door handles, grille surround, a few other minor touches just to give a little bit of an “wow!” factor.

  • avatar

    I hate it when these “journalists” use the term “reached out.” It’s overly pretentious and just sounds odd.

  • avatar

    Makes me wonder (again) if they are really getting a car out any time soon. Maybe the design isn’t locked. Maybe the Alfa deal has reopened things. Maybe the bankruptcy put the brakes on the design a bit ago.

    Are you *sure*, Derek, that Mazda is actually on track to get this out soon?

  • avatar

    The FR-S/GT 86/BRZ triplets are my next-gen Miata.

    • 0 avatar

      Bah! The Miata is noticeably smaller than the triplets. Most importantly, the Miata is a proper man’s car, with just two seats and no roof (just an integrated umbrella for when it rains or snows).

      Personally, I hope the Miata largely leaves the triplets to their nipping at the heels of the Nissan Z. Stock Miatas are all about the act of driving, and if done right the owner won’t care that they’re only going about half as fast as they feel. Miatas aren’t for showing off or posing, they’re a car for YOU to enjoy, for giving you your own little paradise of driving pleasure without imposing itself upon others. Leave the bench racing for the Corvettes and tuner cars of the world; the Miata driver is too busy heading to the next bend in the road to care.

  • avatar

    The thing I long for most in my ’94 is a highway gear. I like the gear ratios I have just the way they are. Why not a similar setup plus a cruising gear?

    Stop measuring top gear acceleration, buff books. You’re missing the point of having a manual transmission.

  • avatar

    Thank you for acknowledging my post. Unfortunately I don’t think Mazda is considering any of my suggestions.

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