Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Liveblogging the ND Miata Reveal

7:30 PM EST - I have personally be waiting for this day for about two years. I have spent the last few Septembers (and Octobers, and the other ten months) expecting it to happen soon. Somehow.

It is now happening. Today. In about an hour and a half.
What do we know? Lots of lovely necessary continuity, gleaned largely from the exposed chassis that the world saw back in New York in April and the small handful of details that have surfaced since then. It will still be a front-engined rear-drive two-seat convertible. It will be slightly smaller than the current one, more in line with the original.

The unknowns? Lots of fun there. The shape is still to be revealed, of course, although the renderings are starting to coalesce into an understanding in the collective consciousness. Details about the powerplant have been kept secret - forced induction? size? It'll undoubtedly be a product of Mazda's Skyactiv approach, which means many good things by itself. Other details - weight is a big important question  mark - will likewise be revealed.

I'm just glad it's here. Finally.

8:20 - No need for the history lesson here; this is one of the best-known products in the industry. Maybe it's better to remember why this is so important.

The Miata isn't just a fun little car; for a lot of us, it's the one living embodiment of certain ideals that were otherwise lost thirty to forty years ago. It is small; it is simple; it does not traffic in fads or gimmicks. It favors balance and responsiveness over raw numbers, an enlightened innate purity over attempts to mitigate liabilities with complexity and flash.

It's a belief. And that fact that it exists in reality is a bit of a miracle.

8:30 - Broadcast is starting. Feed is unstable, although you'd probably need half the servers in California to cover the likely audience. Gawd, Mazda, what's up with the music?

I am going to be very annoyed if this derpy synth-pop is all that happens for the next half-hour.

7:37 - Okay, that's better. Every Gen Xer in the audience is now having a very appropriate Nineties moment.

A few personal notes: I've driven a Miata once, the first NB that I saw on a dealer lot back in 1998. Miatas aren't great dealer-test-drive cars - they're not immediately visceral, certainly not when buzzing around Ypsilanti. You need time to understand them, preferably time on a twisty road. One - from any generation - would be ideal for my situation right now, with its everyday mix of two-lanes and tight city streets and a bit of Interstate.

Personal favorite? Very hard to say. I love the essential simplicity of the original cars, though I'd skip the first year to completely avoid the (rare) crankshaft issues. The glass rear window and exposed headlights on the NB are big pluses to me. The post-facelift NC Touring/Grand Touring may just be the most elegant and refined and lovely of them all.

Forced to pick one (and yeah, like that's such a violation of my human rights)...'99 or '00 NB with whatever package gets me the Nardi steering wheel - leather package, right? Probably would look into a Racing Beat Stage One suspension, would distantly contemplate a new set of camshafts and high-compression pistons and a lightened flywheel. But most likely as-is; wouldn't want to disrupt the balance that much.

9:00 - Showtime, or thereabouts. Only 21,000 people watching?

9:01 - Here we go. Tribute to the ancestors; how pleasantly Japanese.

9:02 - Good evening. (Addendum later on: Derek Jenkins, head of design)

9:04 - He didn't say Miata. He said MX-5. Hmm.

9:05 -I hate the overuse of "icon." This is close to not being an overuse.

9:06 - Hmm. Totally modern and new? Tensions builds.

9:08 - Oh, damn. That last in-house rendering was DEAD on.

Please not the black wheels on all of them

9:10 - It's a baby F-Type.

Still has the fabric top.

 9:12 - Wait, more music? No, I want details. Hold on.


Sigh. And I like Duran Duran - but really?

 9:15 - Y'know, one of my minor gripes about the Corvette intro was that they just had the one guitarist looking kinda lonely onstage. I would have preferred a good band. But not stomping all over the actual unveiling like this.

9:20 - While we're waiting for the oldies revue to run its course, here's the first official pictures of the car:
Interesting. Not traditionally cute/pretty, but not at all unattractive. Slightly fish-like?  I have a standing aversion to all-black wheels

9:27 - My YouTube feed has gone to hell. Ugh.

9:30 - No, it's just stopped.

I went to the livefeed for one of the two or three most important car introductions of the year and a Duran Duran concert happened

9:32 - What happened?

I went to the livefeed for one of the two or three most important car introductions of the year and it was a PR fiasco.

9:34 - I get the sneaky feeling that that's it. We're back to the derpy music from the beginning

Cripes. Okay, what do we know? Low hoodline, black accents...balance of traditional and modern....

Right. Okay, another released Mazda press shot that maybe gives us some real information:
Four-cylinder. No turbo. Structural element along the driveshaft. Um...smallish tires.

Video feed has a "stay with us to see more!" message. Sigh.

Interior is cool (Photoshop brightening via the other Patrick at Jalopnik):
9:45 - Okay, the three-part global reveal thing is starting to make some sense. How'd we draw the straw labeled "more Duran Duran, less tech babble", though?

9:51 - Oh, hi again. Program Manager Yamamoto speaks.

9:54 - Oh, hi again. Dean Case and HEY! BOB HALL! COOL!

9:55 - Oh, come on. We do not need the history lesson.

At this point I am getting important information only from around the edges and whatever gets sent from people who are there.

10:02 - At this point word from a well-placed source says that important tech details will be forthcoming later - much later. Ugh.

10:05 - At this point if you want information go check Twitter. The live feed is turning into a bad joke. I'm done.

That was not well-produced.

10:10 - Thanks to Mazda's really odd idea of a product intro, we are left hanging in a lot of ways for now. Wish list: Basic powertrain specs and dimensions, pricing info, pictures of it wearing black paint with non-black wheels. Release date. OH CHRIST DEREK IS TALKING AGAIN.

10:12 - Yeah, really want to see it in black to match the windscreen frame and mirrors.

10:14 - All of the designspeak is not doing anything to change my impression that this is a smaller mass-market F-Type. Wonder what Ian Callum is thinking right now.

10:19 - That is sort of a big bulgy rear, at least from the livefeed's perspective. Ferrari California a subconscious influence?

10:20 - Chris Paukert from Autoblog has a shot with it wearing the 17" wheels.  Nice.

Okay, livefeed is officially over.

I am really disappointed that we don't have more real information. I'm really wondering what the folks who put this together were thinking.

That said, I think the car itself is, safely, a good move. It looks interesting, if a bit derivative. It keeps all the important ideas intact (we think).

Now we just have to wait again.