Mazda MX-5 Miata design proposals reveal what could have been

Everyone’s favorite example of slow car that begs to be driven fast almost looked a little different from the production Mazda MX-5 Miata on the road today. The brand itself recently released a slew of images that show a handful of design proposals for what would become the fourth-generation—or ND as it’s known to enthusiasts—MX-5 Miata.

When every final sketch was looked over, Mazda decided on two designs to choose from: one from Japan and one from the United States. The Japanese proposal featured retro-style lines and channeled the original MX-5 Miata. The American proposal was slightly more forward thinking and took the design in a new direction, but retained much of what made the MX-5 Miata a sports car icon.

American designers felt there was too much of the original MX-5 Miata in the Japanese proposal and that the design didn’t capture a new identity that fell in line with Mazda’s Kodo design language. On the other hand, the Japanese designers felt the American proposal didn’t capture enough emotional excitement. Ultimately, the body of the car remained truer to the Japanese design proposal, while the American offering provided more of the final details.

From design proposal to production car, much of what the Japanese originally penned is present. However, the Americans shaped the headlights, providing a link to the rest of Mazda’s portfolio of vehicles—the MX-5 Miata is the halo atop the brand, after all. The collaboration led to a striking design that isn’t so retro yet hardly dilutes its character and is easily recognizable as a Miata. Have a gander at the additional images up above.

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