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Friday, January 27, 2023

Mazda Miata adds lightness with 990S Roadster variant in Japan

Mazda has quietly revealed the most lightweight version of its fourth-generation Roadster, known in the U.S. as the MX-5 Miata, yet. They’ve dubbed it the 990S because it weighs just under 990 kg, or approximately 2,180 pounds. For those keeping track, that’s about the mass of a first-gen Miata.

The minimalist Miata was unveiled at a gathering of Roadster enthusiasts in Japan. According to Car Watch, Mazda demonstrated its dedication to shaving weight by removing sound deadening material from under the hood and in the cabin. The 990S also substitutes stock wheels with forged units made by Rays, scrubbing 1.76 pounds each. It uses aluminum Brembo brake rotors as well, which measure larger but end up being lighter than the standard steel units, saving 1.54 pounds.

Visually, the 990S is distinguished by a blue convertible top, blue louvers on the cabin air vents and blue Brembo logos on the brake calipers. Mazda says the color blue conveys a feeling of lightness. The 990S isn’t just light; it’s also pure, eschewing technologies like Mazda Connect and GPS in favor of a focused driving experience.

The 990S also introduces a new handling system that Mazda calls “Vehicle Attitude Stabilization Control.” Like G-Vectoring Control, it uses software and sensors to detect motion to subtly enhance dynamics. In this case, if it detects lateral forces greater than 0.3g, it knows the car is cornering and applies a tiny amount of braking to the inside rear wheel. Mazda says this will help reduce its tendency to lift and stay flatter in turns. The system can be deactivated when the traction control is turned off.

Sadly, the 990S will not be available in the U.S. The weight savings is possible because it’s based on the 130-horsepower, 1.5-liter Roadster available in some markets. The U.S.-spec Miata employs a 181-horse, 2.0-liter four, and Mazda says the larger motor necessitated bigger brakes, more cooling, and a strengthened drive shaft and power plant frame. All of that would add approximately 50 kg to the car and pushing it beyond the 990 kg weight that is its namesake.

However, chief of development Shigeki Saito believes that even with its smaller output, the 990S is the purest driver’s car in the Mazda lineup. “Horsepower and fun are not proportional,” he said at the owners’ event, “But lightness and fun are.”

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