Mazda rolled out a new MX-5, known more colloquially as the “Miata,” in 2015.
A quarter-century after its introduction, the frisky little drop-top has been steadily improved. It’s gotten bigger and faster. But how much faster?
Mazda decided to find out, pitting a first-generation MX-5 against the latest model and filming the excitement.
A pair of endurance racers were recruited: Jade Paveley to pilot the 1990 Miata; and Owen Mildenhall to helm the new MX-5.
The earliest Miata managed only 116 horsepower. With a larger engine, the new MX-5 cranks out 155. At a race track in Spain, Mazda’s thinking was that such a power differential translates into 4 seconds, so that’s how much of a head start Paveley got.
Would she be able to hold her lead?
Jade Paveley gets the older, slower Miata -- but a 4-second head start. Will she be able to drive the little roadster well enough to maintain her lead?
Owen Mildenhall got behind the wheel of the much-improved MX-5. But will better handling, better suspension, and more horsepower be enough? Driving skill can still win races, and Paveley has a head start!
Paveley will put the pedal down for a full 4 seconds before her competition can get off the start line.
But finally away -- and picking up speed fast. The graphic in the upper-right-hand corner shows how far apart the two cars are on the track.
The 2015 MX-5 is a much better race car. Years of racing have led Mazda to make numerous improvements. By all rights, the new MX-5 should catch up.
But this very well-preserved example of the first-gen car is no slouch. And with a good driver at the controls, it can be a lot quicker than its limited power would indicate.
Notice a big difference between the original model and the new car: the pop-up headlights went away over a decade ago.
And Jade can't hold off the pass at the finish. Mildenhall has the extra horsepower and he uses it at just the right moment.
Pretty impressive that it came down to a run for the finish line. The original Miata remains a good sparring partner on the track, even with 25-year-old technology.
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