Could Mazda singlehandedly save the manual transmission *and* make FIAT exciting again?
Those might seem like two completely unrelated things, but the new 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata has the potential to do both. It’s a tall order from an automaker that ranks 15th in size by production worldwide, but sometimes it’s the smaller guys who rise up to make the biggest impact.
Car enthusiasts in the U.S. are painfully aware of the slow demise of the manual transmission. They are also aware that driving a FIAT basically means you’ve given up on attaining any type of thrill from driving.
But fear not, friends, because the Miata is here to save the day.
Thanks to the advent of super-advanced automatics, manuals are no longer the fastest and most fuel-efficient type of transmission. A proper slushbox can now out-accelerate a manual while delivering more miles per gallon. It’s painful, but it’s true.
Honestly, it’s even true for the new Miata. However, and this is a fact Mazda felt important enough to include in a press release, the new Miata in manual trim gets 25 percent better fuel economy than the outgoing automatic.
Here’s how Mazda’s wordy marketing people said it:
Lighter, quicker and more nimble than its predecessor, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata demonstrates the power innovation can have when re-engineering a roadster from the ground up. In addition to all of the aforementioned improvements the 2016 MX-5 has, fuel economy can now be added to the list, with MX-5 achieving an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city/34 mpg highway/30 mpg combined when equipped with the standard SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission (EPA-estimated 27 mpg city/36 mpg highway/30 mpg combined when equipped with the six-speed automatic).
This performance represents a 25-percent increase in fuel economy versus the 2015 MX-5’s EPA-estimated fuel economy when paired with the outgoing model’s available six-speed manual transmission, highlighting the benefits of SKYACTIV Technology.
In other Miata news, we’re hearing reports that FIAT will base its new 124 Spider on the Japanese roadster. We don’t know much else, but apparently FIAT thinks the ultra-lightweight Mazda will provide a solid foundation for a new MultiAir-powered roadster that’ll arrive in dealerships next year.
The 124 Spider will be the first modern FIAT in the States that isn’t a derivative of the 500 and should do a lot to inject some excitement back into the brand.
Will you test-drive the Miata-based FIAT 124 Spider?