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First Look: 2010 Mazda Miata

by on Feb.13, 2009

2010 Mazda Miata: 20 years later

2010 Mazda Miata: 20 years later

“It was 20 years ago, today…” or so the Beatles might have been saying if they were in hand at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show to celebrate two decades of the Mazda Miata.

It’s hard to recall how much has changed since the first of those little roadsters rolled into the Windy City, for the 1989 Chicago Auto Show. The Berlin Wall had yet to fall. The first George Bush was in the White House. And as far as Conventional Wisdom was concerned, the 2-seat sports car was effectively dead

So, when Mazda pulled the wraps off the first Miata,” It was considered a fad,” and one not likely to gain much traction, says Mazda North America’s CEO, Jim O’Sullivan, who served as master of ceremonies for the launch of the 2010 Mazda Miata. And with 900,000 of the roadsters sold, over the last 20 years, O’Sullivan seemed confident the Miata will be around for a little longer.

2010 Mazda Miata: long-lasting appeal

2010 Mazda Miata: long-lasting appeal

Better known to motorists around the world as the MX-5, the roadster has succeeded by blending price and performance. It’s about the most affordable entry you can find in the roadster segment, and though competitors, such as the Porsche Boxster, may pull better 0 to 60 times, Miata has a high fun-to-drive quotient.

The roadster went through two major redesigns since its ’89 debut – in 1998 and 2005. So, this year’s edition gets a relatively modest series of updates, inside and out.

The most immediate difference can be found in headlights that bear the clear influence of the latest Mazda6 sedan. More subtle changes have been made to both the front and rear fascias. Meanwhile, in keeping with the automaker’s Zoom-Zoom theme, the MX-5’s 2.0-liter inline-four engine gets a bit of a boost, so the 2010 Mazda Miata will make 167-horsepower.

Miata’s long-running success comes in sharp contrast to other roadster wannabes. The latest maker to pull out of the segment is Honda, which will scrap its S2000 at the end of the 2009 model-year.

Joe Szczesny contributed to this article.

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