Old Versus New: 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring vs. 1990 Miata

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2016 and 1990 Miatas going over a bridge in the countryIn 1990, an industry choked by fuel-economy regulations rediscovered driving fun. Two and a half decades later, we tour Seattle to reaffirm that the Miata remains the very definition of a roadster.

Kurt Cobain’s credit card, the paradoxical plastic conduit for the autograph of a grunge icon who despised materialism, pulled in more than $27,000 during a recent auction. In southwest Washington state, Cobain’s mother wants $400,000 for the family home, which is surrounded by $100,000 bungalows in a neighborhood that locals once called Felony Flats. Nostalgia for ­Nirvana runs high these days, buoyed by aging Gen Xers. Because if you believe that culture and fashion echo in 20-year intervals, the 1990s are back at high volume. Are today’s hipsters wearing the very flannel that neo-moshers discarded at the Salvation Army when they graduated to graphic-design jobs? Call it a working theory.

The folks at Mazda must remember the 1990s fondly. Twenty-six years after energizing the brand with a new, lightweight roadster, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata signals a throwback to the original in nearly every aspect. The new MX-5 isn’t just shorter than its immediate predecessor, the 2006–2015 third gen. Despite powerful market and regulatory forces inflating cars in the opposite direction, the newest Miata measures 1.3 inches shorter than the original. And a fanatical effort to cut mass has dropped more than 150 pounds from last year’s car. (more…)

Re-shared from Car & Driver, Text by Eric Tingwall, Photography by Marc Urbano