Mazda dropped off a 2016 MX-5 Miata at our office this week with only two stipulations: don't break it, and don't talk about driving impressions until 3:01 AM Eastern on Monday, June 1. Easy enough. But rather than hold our notes until the embargo lifts, we decided to do something different.

By now, you've no doubt read all there is to know about the 2016 Miata, including our review of the Japanese-spec car with the 1.5-liter engine that isn't coming to North America. You know it's smaller than the outgoing NC model. And you know that, at 2,332 pounds, it's nearly as light as the original.

But what you, and we, didn't know, is what Miata owners think about the 2016 model. The MX-5 group is incredibly enthusiastic, and they love their cars. Hell, they love each other's cars. So we gave them an opportunity to not only get together, but to get an up-close, informal look at the ND Miata outside of an auto show, several months before it officially goes on sale. Here's what we did.

Mazda Miata

Cars And Coneys

Anyone who's familiar with the Woodward Dream Cruise in metro Detroit has no doubt heard of Athens Coney Island in Royal Oak, MI. It's an iconic place, known for its top-notch coney dogs, quick service, and the fact that, on pretty much any warm-weather weekend, you can find cool cars in the parking lot. We called the folks at Athens, told them about our Miata meet-up, and they were immediately on board with coneys, soda, and coffee for our gathering.

We first published our meet-up info late last week, and sent the details out on our social media channels, as well. But without any formal RSVP system, we had no idea how many people would show up. And since Mother Nature decided to provide us with gray skies and chilly temperatures, we figured a lot of would-be attendees opted to bail at the last minute. Needless to say, we were surprised to see several Miatas already lined up in the Athens parking lot when we arrived with the ND at 4:40 PM, 20 minutes before the listed 5:00 start time.

No one kept a formal count, but our best guess is that something like 50 or 60 cars showed up over the course of three hours. Some folks stayed the whole time, some people only stopped by for a quick cup of coffee. A couple people drove long distances to attend – a few Miatas hailing from southern Ohio, and many from western Michigan. We had a huge mix of cars, too. NAs, NBs, and NCs were all represented, including some Mazdaspeed MX-5s, tuner cars, and one super-rare 25th Anniversary Edition. A few enthusiasts even showed up in other cars – a Mazdaspeed3 and Mazdaspeed6 made the journey, as did some Mopar fans, a few WRXes, and even a Ford engineer in a right-hand-drive Focus prototype.

Dave Coleman talks to Mazda Miata owners

Meeting The Experts

When Mazda got wind of our event, they wanted to get in on the fun, too. And what better way for owners to find out information about the Miata than to talk to the guys who actually worked on it. Rod McLaughlin, vehicle line manager for the MX-5 Miata, and Dave Coleman, one of Mazda's lead engineers (pictured above), happily talked with owners during our meet and greet.

These guys live and breathe Miata every single day, and they're immensely proud of this fourth-generation car, especially in US-spec form. "North America is why the two-liter car exists," Coleman told us.

Of course, several Autoblog editors were on hand to talk shop, leaving out the details about what it's like to actually drive the thing. And as a special treat for folks who stuck around, an Autoweek editor showed up with a second ND Miata – a Club model, as opposed to our Grand Touring – which meant people could see the changes for the two trims firsthand.

Mazda Miata Autoblog Meetup Extras | Cars & Coneys

So, What Do They Think?

No surprise, people love the new Miata. The enthusiasts we spoke to think Mazda did a fantastic job, overall. But there were a couple of specific points we heard over and over again:

  • The styling is awesome. Mazda's Kodo language translates to a really good-looking Miata, and a lot of the people we talked to were happy that the company decided to do something really different for the ND car.
  • The weight reduction is great. Lightness is key with a car like the Miata, so getting it down to 2,332 pounds is a huge win. The fans are impressed.
  • It's a lot nicer inside. From the choice of materials to overall fit-and-finish to the new spate of onboard safety and tech, many owners remarked that the ND Miata generally feels a lot more premium and comfortable, while still keeping it simple inside the cabin.
  • They want a power retractable hardtop. We've been asking Mazda this question for months. The company is dead silent about this matter, only saying that they "aren't talking about that right now."

Still, the one thing everyone asked us is the one thing we can't talk about: how it drives. Is 155 horsepower enough? How's the steering? How's the chassis? Does it feel like a Miata should?

Sadly, we can't say much more. Again, thanks to all the Miata owners and Autoblog fans who hung out with us on Tuesday. We're super excited about the new MX-5, and we know you are, too. Besides, if there's one thing we love to do, it's talk about cool cars with cool people. And coney dogs are pretty delicious.

Come back on Monday, June 1, at 3:01 AM Eastern for the full 2016 MX-5 Miata 2.0L review.


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