Mazda MX-5 test mule

The original Mazda MX-5 Miata was distinguished by an oval grille – a design trait that gradually evolved into the smiling cat face on the latest model. But Mazda, according to the latest intel, is planning on returning to that oval grille with the new model in the works.

The revised grille will cap a slightly longer form than models past, while still keeping weight down to a minimum. The stretched wheelbase was reportedly adopted in order to meet the requirements of Alfa Romeo, which is jointly developing the new platform together with Mazda for use on a new roadster of its own.

The new Miata is expected to adopt the 1.5-liter Skyactiv four found in the Mazda3, albeit retuned to rev higher and deliver more power and torque, mated to either a six-speed manual or automatic. The Alfa version, meanwhile, is expected to use a 1.4-liter turbo four with a dual-clutch transmission. Sources anticipate the new MX-5 to debut first, possibly at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show a little less than a year from now.