This article is taken from TRDC magazine 1996 Edition 1 and re-produced by kind consent of Stewart Rendall.

The MX-5 was designed to fill the void left by BL's departure from the mass sports car market. It is the first popular production convertible to be marketed since the demise of the last TR model.

For those not in the know the 1.6i MX-5 is a 16 valve, DOC engine based on a Mazda 323 block. All MX-5s have full emission control. Despite this, the car develops 114 bhp. 0-60mph in just under 9 secs. In the initial design, special attention was paid to weight and weight distribution and so the car has an aluminum bonnet and thinner gauge steel boot!

Power and torque figures for the 1.6i MX-5 are:
  Max output (DIN) 114bhp at 6500rpm   (Carb'd UK TR8 155 bhp at 4750rpm)
  Max torque (DIN) 100 lbsft at 5500rpm  (Carb'd UK TR8 196 lbsft at 2750rpm)

Weight difference is:
  MX-5 Miata 1.6: 955kg kerb
  Carb'd UK TR8: 1139kg unladen

Note that Europe now has a basic de-tuned 1.6i 88 bhp MX-5 as an entry-level car. All markets now sell the more powerful 1.8i .130 bhp model.

Style & Street Cred

At the time, the wedge was an entirely new shape whereas the MX-5 has unashamedly copied the best bits from a variety of past masters; principally the old Lotus Elan. Interestingly, a book on the Miata development contains a photo and reference to the Triumph Spitfire which they used early on for ideas, much as Rover used an MX-5 and a Toyota MR-2 for the MGF design development!

These cars have little in common with regard to appearance. The wedge is quite angular with barely a curve in sight. In contrast, the MX-5 is heavily rounded. This is seventies versus nineties styling.

After 6 years on the market, an MX-5 still turns heads. As for the TR8, it is a case of they can hear you coming; never mind the looks!