If you’re up for a challenge, try this: redesign an icon that owns a spot in the Guinness Book of Records as the best-selling two-seater sports car in the world, one that is to this day loved and cherished around the globe. Should you take on such an endeavor, the best place to start would be at the end: If you were on the Mazda team that spent two years rethinking the Miata, you would look backward to leap forward, a jump that would start with the metaphor of Jinba Ittai, the spirit of the “horse and rider” as one, derived from an ancient Japanese competition in which a rider shoots arrows at a target while galloping at speed. You did say you were up for a challenge, right? So if that’s not enough, add in this brain buckler: engineer your third-generation 2006 MX-5 Miata in a way that replicates the performance of the successful first and second editions, yet has no parts in common. Give it the same basic shape and design, but make it notable in its differences, all the while making sure old Jinba Ittai – car and driver as one – is alive and well.
Which is exactly what they did. With this complete redesign, Mazda adhered to the core principle of Jinba Ittai, having ridden the horse and struck the target with uncanny precision. The 2006 Mazda MX-5’s technological intelligence, bigger interior and exterior, improved safety, upgraded features, and great performance successfully marries its past to its future, a strategy sure to keep the newest Miata in the enviable position as the top-selling sports car in the world, loved by enthusiasts around the globe.