Leading up to the Chicago Auto Show, Mazda announced it was releasing a Heritage Collection of accessories. Needless to say, we at JNC were very excited. Not only that, but the show would be a reunion of sorts, as the original Mazda MX-5 Miata was debuted at this very show 26 years ago.
This exact Mariner Blue NA was one of the three original Miatas shown in Chicago when Mazda’s plans for a lightweight 2-seat roadster were announced in 1989. It boasts the lowest serial number (00014), still has fewer than 9,000 miles on it, and is the most original one of the three. Who knew at the time it would go on to become the best-selling roadster of all time, launch a slew of followers from Audi to Saturn, and introduce almost a million drivers to the joys of motoring?
So it was with much anticipation that we went to see the Heritage Collection, which the automaker said was “inspired by key themes of Mazda’s past, present and future.” Well, here it is. These prototypes of hoodies, polo shirts, and mugs are what he Heritage Collection currently consists of.
All of these items were designed by Mazda’s car designers. “There are no hard performance parts,” said a Mazda spokesman. It’s all about the lifestyle that goes along with the Mazda brand. You see, apparently Mazda is starting to use design and branding to distance itself from the mainstream Japanese pack. It sees itself as not necessarily competing with Honda or Toyota, but with a more premium tier of automakers like Acura, VW and Volvo.
We do agree that the current crop of Kodo design Mazda cars like the new Mazda6 and CX-5 — developed free from the shackles of Ford — are some of the best new cars on the market, with stellar styling and superb handling to set themselves apart. We even think the plaid scarf is fashionable, but to us it doesn’t say much that is uniquely Mazda. The driving gloves, a nice touch to connect the apparel line with the cars, look perfectly fine, but replace the Mazda logo with another and no one would notice.
Separate from the Heritage Collection, Mazda also took the opportunity to unveil a new line of aftermarket accessories for the ND Miata. A white RHD 2016 Miata, probably the very car we saw at the LA Auto Show last year, was used to display the goods.
The most visible parts are a an air dam, rocker extensions, rear bumper skirt and spoiler painted in gloss black. While tasteful, we’re not exactly sure these add anything visually to the beautiful design of the ND Miata.
Performance-wise, a Brembo brake kit with larger BBS 17-x7-inch wheels provide a bit more stop and a bit more grip. No word on whether any powertrain modifications were made, but official numbers for US-market NDs have yet to be released anyhow.
Lastly, a trunk-mounted luggage rack is meant as a throwback to the days when you threw a couple of leather suitcases on the back and took off glamorously for a weekend getaway, wind in your hair. The look is modern, but perhaps fitting with the ND’s lines.
Save for the luggage rack, these items bring the ND in line with the global MX-5 Cup cars. Personally, we’d stick with the original without any accoutrements simply because the MX-5’s entire philosophy is minimalism.