Fresh from its de facto split from Ford, Mazda is moving forward with the final touches on its 2009 lineup. Most of the 2009 U.S. range was revealed in mid-2008, but the MX-5 facelift has been kept secret. Today Mazda has let the new car out into the open, with full specs, photos and pricing.

The new MX-5 gets its power from a 2.0L four-cylinder engine, producing 167hp (124kW), a 1hp gain over the previous model. Redline rises 500rpm to 7,200rpm. New for 2009, six-speed manual models get an Induction Sound Enhancer (ISE). Made up of a series of tuned pipes and a passive resonance membrane, the ISE delivers the engine's natural induction sound to the cowl, just ahead of the windshield, so engine sounds can be delivered at a 'comfortable volume'.

The car's transmission also gets upgrades: the new six-speed delivers quicker, lighter, more direct shift feel thanks to a new carbon coating on the 1st through 4th gear synchros and larger diameter syncrhos on 3rd and 4th gear. Sixth gear is also slightly taller (0.787:1 vs. 0.832:1) for improved fuel economy and more relaxed highway cruising.

Handling is also improved by way of relocated ball joints on the front suspension that lower the car's roll center by about an inch. Damping has also been completely re-tuned on both the standard suspension and the Bilstein-equipped suspension package. The optional traction control and stability control systems have also been thoroughly re-tuned to be less intrusive during sporty driving. Taken together, Mazda's ethos of 'Jinba ittai' (horse-and-rider-as-one) driving sensation grows further.

"The MX-5 Miata has been true to Mazda's Zoom-Zoom philosophy since rolling off the assembly line 20 years ago," said Tim Barnes, director of product development for Mazda.

Other updates include a revised front fascia with the 'smiling' face common to the new 2010 Mazda3 and other new Mazda models. The outside gets a range of new paint colors: Competition Yellow and Liquid Silver Metallic. As with the previous car, both folding soft top and power retractable hardtop (PRHT) versions will be available.

Inside, the seat shape has been refined for better lower-body comfort, while the backrest still delivers body-hugging lateral support for sporty driving. Two new interior color schemes are also available: Dune Beige Leather and Havana Brown Leather. The center console has been redesigned for more flexible storage and, and better comfort, with a padded armrest now residing behind the shifter.

New standard features have also been added, including an auxiliary-audio input jack and a CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability. Touring models now include an auto dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, premium finish on the instrument panel and a trip computer sporting average MPG and ambient temperature displays. The top Grand Touring model adds automatic air conditioning, leather-wrapped hand brake and 5-way adjustable seat heaters.

Sales are expected to begin soon now that the car has been unveiled. Pricing starts at $21,750 for the stripped-down SV model soft-top, $22,750 for the Sport soft-top and $25,390 for the Sport power-retractable hard-top. Prices rise incrementally to the top-of-the-line Grand Touring models, which go for $27,450 (automatic transmission) in soft-top guise and $29,250 (again, auto-box) in PRHT trim.