By on July 2, 2012

Mazda will be refreshing the MX-5 for 2013, as they attempt to hold us over for the long-awaited “ND” Miata, due in a couple years, that will share a platform with the Alfa Romeo Spider.

Although *some* uninformed enthusiasts claim that the current car is a heavier, uglier abomination not fit to carry on the legacy of the MX-5, I couldn’t disagree more. The NC MX-5 is brilliant. Full stop. The only thing that puts me off is the goofy front fascia. Otherwise, it’s just about perfect, especially with the “dreaded” Power Retractable Hardtop. I would go so far as to say that it’s better in every single way than my beloved NA Miata, with no additional drawbacks.

The refresh is subtle, and helps diminish some of the “smiley face” character of the awful Nagare styling language, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s impossible enough to do away with that blight. The headlights, grill opening and air intakes are only slightly changed, but it does help. Even though the front is still ugly, I’d buy one over an FR-S. I suspect I’m not alone.

Thanks to The Car Lounge for the photos

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42 Comments on “Mazda MX-5 Getting Refreshed Yet Again...”


  • avatar
    spinjack

    Seems to have a bit of S2000 DNA in the styling.

  • avatar
    Higheriq

    Derek, I agree with you. While this mild re-style doesn’t eliminate the “smiley-face”, it does tone it down considerably. While I likewise wouldn’t trade/sell my lightly-used 2002 NB for a new one, I would still buy ANY MX-5 over a FR-S/BRZ at least until the convertible versions of those cars are available. Although by the time that happens we will probably have the ND MX-5.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      The restyling is consistent with the updated Mazda3 this past year. The shape of the smile and the lead-ins to the fog lights mimic what was done on the 3.

      IMO, since Mazda can’t come out with all-new versions fast enough, this is a good stop-gap strategy.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I like it… looks more aggressive. Let me know when a factory “shooting brake” edition comes out. Plus I want a MazdaSpeed turbo version too. Until then I’ll keep my Z.

  • avatar
    Yuppie

    Have to agree with the preference over the FR-S (“86″), if personal driving enjoyment is what one is after.

  • avatar
    nmcheese

    Still looks smiley, but not that it matters, it’s a fun platform. I waited until the BRZ launched for comparison, and still purchased a 2011 NC. Folding hard top convertible with lots of toys for the same price as a BRZ worked for me.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    As much as I like our 2007 MX5, I won’t shed too many tears if our neighbor buys it this week.

    I want/need something a bit larger that’s easier to get in and out of, like an Eos or a C70…

  • avatar
    imag

    Say it ain’t so. That means at least three more years before we get the ND, and even more before we have a shot at the RX, assuming it makes it.

    Bummer. I understand the financial requirements that led to this, but I am not happy about the decision.

  • avatar
    dtremit

    I find all the “smiley” Mazdas look much “smilier” in photos than in person — particularly with the Miata, which is so low. Photos like the one of the white Miata above present it from an angle no one ever sees.

  • avatar
    jbltg

    Still a great car. If you want more power, step on the gas harder and it will oblige.
    I am still partial to my ’95 with the lower beltline, very much a go-kart.
    You really must not have an automatic in one of these.

    Why is the hardtop dreaded?

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      Because it adds weight, and some Miata fans are low-weight fetishists.

      • 0 avatar
        jbltg

        Of course. Pretty great option though over the paper-thin ragtop. But the weight ship already sailed with the current model. A very nice, much more civilized car, but just not quite as tossable.
        I get to compare constantly since there is a first and third generation in the immediate family, and to choose between them is very frustating and delicious at the same time.

      • 0 avatar
        rmwill

        Cloth roofs are better and weigh less. They just cost more to do right. Oh I forgot. Barbie likes retractable hardtops.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      “Why is the hardtop dreaded?”

      The one negative of the retractable hard top is that, as executed, it takes away an inch of headroom in a car that is already very short of headroom. Otherwise the retractable hardtop Miata is awesome. If I fit in mine I would have never sold it. You get both an incredibly solid coupe and a convertible for the price of one. And the oragami movement of the retraction is awesome. Soft tops are a PITA. Lots of complaints about the drip rail leaking and other issues on NC soft tops Miatas. No complaints about the retractable hard top. The retractable hard tops on some German cars may have a lot of reliability issues, but that is because they are German cars, not an issue inherent in retractable hard tops.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    I like the restyling. Not only does it get rid of the ‘smily face- it also gets rid of some of the ‘jello blob’ styling of the older model.

    • 0 avatar
      rx8

      The ONLY change is in the front Nose/Bumper/Grille/Fogs, everything else, fenders, sides, rear, rear lights and suspension and brakes and 2.02 MZR engine is all the same as the model it replaces.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    While it doesn’t have the clean classic lines of the original, I like the current gen myself, and the refresh seems to only help it. It looks compact yet muscular, and relatively handsome. I’d love some pop-up headlight action, but I doubt we’ll ever see that again.

    I think the 2nd gen Miata is the real dog of the model (at least aesthetically).

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    “I would go so far as to say that it’s better in every single way than my beloved NA Miata, with no additional drawbacks.”
    And you’d be quite wrong. The NC Miata is substantially heavier and larger which are two VERY large drawbacks in a car like this. As it was said before “NC is a better car but NA is a better Miata”. It applies here quite well.

    As for BRZ, I’d much rather have a BRZ than NC. But I would certainly choose an NA over BRZ.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Go look up the weight difference between a base 1994+ NA (i.e. an NA with some added body rigidity, side impact door beams and dual airbags) and a base NC, with standard ABS, side impact air bags, 40 more HP (not that a Miata fan would care about something so base) and a MUCH more rigid body (any sports car fan should care about that).

      It’s basically nothing. Definitely nothing substantial.

      Oh, and the substantial change in size really is non-existent. They are the same size.

      If you are going to bench race the NA vs. the NC at least get the specs right.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t have the 1994 specs handy, but compared to the NB the NC gained less than two inches of length and width and only about 50 pounds.

        Unless they’ve changed it, a soft top remains standard and the PRHT optional.

      • 0 avatar
        mitchw

        The NAs weighed about 2200 pounds and the NCs about 2400(more with the HT). I can tell you that with the optional hardtop(45lbs) on my NA the handling was quite affected. That weight above my head took its time following the rest of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        I’m seeing the following difference between a 1994 base Miata and a 2006 base (club sport) Miata:

        Curb Weight – Manual (lb.) 2293 2441
        Wheelbase (in.) 89.20 91.70
        Length (in.) 155.40 157.30
        Width (in.) 66.00 67.70
        Height (in.) 48.20 49.00
        Track Front (in.) 55.50 58.70
        Track Rear (in.) 56.20 58.90

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        The most substantial difference in the above specs is a 6% difference in weight. For much more rigid, much safer car.

      • 0 avatar

        Gold medal for you, sir

    • 0 avatar
      rx8

      Power to weight ratio has also increased with the NC by over 10% with the 2.0…an NA or NB could not be made today as both fail to pass any passenger, crash or safety regulations of this century.

  • avatar
    blau

    Indeed, you are not alone. I only just realized that I’d been waiting with bated breath to see what the FR-S/BRZ would be like when there was really no way I was going to like it better than I do this Mazda.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Personally, I think cross into the “retractable, folding hardtop” territory is unfortunate. It adds weight, it adds complexity, and it adds the possibility of leaks in the multiple joints and folds of the top. It also probably eats into trunk room. Even with a roadster, you want to have enough of a trunk to carry stuff for you and your very best friend for a weekend . . . and still be able to put the top down.

    I guess that leaves the Z and the Boxster as the only truly soft top roadsters out there.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Retractable hard tops add marginal weight, often impressive top up rigidity, and more reliability. Soft tops are always ripping or fading or getting vandalized. I had to replace a soft top on an NA with an NC top after the flexible plastic window cracked – not fun, and probably the easiest to replace soft top on the market.

      In the long run most cars are going to switch to hard tops because they are in practice better and more reliable. A retractable hard top is more complex than a soft top like fuel injection is more complex than a carburetor.

    • 0 avatar
      300zx_guy

      as I understood it from when it came out, the PRHT design on the mazda stack in such a way that it does not take up any trunk space, I could be wrong. Not a fan of the new face in these pictures, looks cheaper. I prefer the current design, but these pictures aren’t much to go on.

      • 0 avatar
        smokingclutch

        The PRHT on the Miata drops into the same well space as the soft top. It costs no trunk space, and adds less than 70 lbs to the car. Not inconsequential, but after having the fabric top cut on my NA Miata, I see the appeal of the hardtop.

        It’s not only the lightest HT implementation on the market, it’s also supposedly the fastest – I think I read somewhere that it takes less than 10 seconds to operate.

        I wouldn’t have noticed the headroom difference as I’m well under 6′ tall.

    • 0 avatar
      kuman

      Bring back S2000 please! i haven’t amass enough fortune to buy one before they went out of production… i test drive a miata not long ago and gosh they are just too claustrophobic inside.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    The Miata is a great car (my sister has an NB 10AE and I’ve ridden in an NC) and if I was looking at an extra car I would be tempted to pick it over the Scion. however, if I’m looking at it as a daily driver, I carry too much stuff work to fit and as small as the back seat on the Scion is, at least its there.

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    Can’t wait for the Kotex edition Miata. ; )

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    This fixes a lot of what the 2009 refresh screwed up. I see the FR-S/BRZ as what you have to settle for if, like me, you do not fit in an NC Miata. If you fit in an NC Miata then go get a ridiculous deal on a 2008 PHRT Touring (not Grand Touring) with the sport package.

    • 0 avatar
      rx8

      The ‘screwed up’ 2009-2012′s (manuals) has the better engine with forged internals, crank/rods, updated trans internals (from 2009 RX-8)..so the ‘screwed up’ current NC has no 5-6th gear change grind, and no failed con-rod through the block that ALL previous NC’s could have and have had happen at some stage of their life.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    When the lightweight ND comes out, there may be a lot of geezers finally selling their NAs. So supply may go up for vintage Miatas, while the NC becomes the unloved step child. Buy the NCs at your pecuniary peril, girls.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    The later Miatas always looked fine to me, until they threw that embarrassing smile on them. Now instead of an evil grin we have a very very “DUHHH!!!” expression.

    And… it still looks like a Koffing!

  • avatar
    Junebug

    I don’t know, but it “seems” the folding hard top would be a much better idea than cloth. All I do know is that for the past few days it’s been too damn hot, and every cloth top anything I saw at the stop light, had a miserable looking soul at the steering wheel.


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