Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mazda Motor Corporation

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a roadster made by the Japanese automaker Mazda. It actually has many names. For example, in the US, it’s known as the Mazda Miata, and in Japan, it’s called the Mazda Roadster. It was also known as Eunos Roadster in Japan until 1996.

It is a widely successful car and it actually started a renaissance of the roadster body type after it came onto the market in the 90s. Mazda had already sold 1,000,000 units by 2016 and therefore, the Miata is the best-selling roadster in the world.

The Idea

Mazda Motor CorporationMazda Motor Corporation

Mazda Miata was launched worldwide in 1989 and many roadsters were almost extinct for various reasons at the time. Strict safety regulations, small interiors, and little trunk spaces were the culprits. Some manufacturers even produced vehicles with removable roof parts such as the Targa to battle those problems.

The Miata follows the small British and Italian sports car tradition closely. That means, engine at the front, drive at the back, 2 seats, manual clutch, and wind in your hair. Just like the legendary Triumph Spitfire, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider, the Alfa Romeo Spider, and especially the Lotus Elan.

The only roadster still built in large series was the Alfa Romeo Spider, which was technically outdated. Even though the Mazda market research department saw no potential for such a vehicle, the car went into series production. It was largely thanks to the personal initiative of many developers, such as MX-5 project manager Toshihiko Hirai. 

Mazda initially planned to produce only 5000 units, however, by the end of 1990, over 140k vehicles had already been made. The contingent intended for Europe was sold out in just three days. Many Miatas were exported from the United States and Canada to other countries and sold there as gray imports.

As a company, Mazda wanted this car to have a positive emotional impact on the brand’s name and they were extremely successful. Even brands like Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, and Fiat followed right after this success.

First Generation - Type NA (1989–1998) 

Mazda Motor Corporation



Mazda Miata was first unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show in February of 1989. There was only one engine option, a 1.6-liter with 85 kW (115 hp). A five-speed manual gearbox was standard, and it had a very short shift travel of 1,5 inches. Over 430 thousand units of Miata Type NA sold worldwide.

It came out with new technologies for 1989, like optional rack and pinion power steering and ventilated disc brakes on the front. Both the front and rear axels were on double wishbones and there were ventilated brakes on all wheels. Clearly, this car was made for fun.

Mazda MX-5 Miata was a design and engineering marvel right from the start. It had a 50:50 weight distribution back to front and the drag coefficiency is specified as 0.38 with the top closed and 0.44 open. 

In 1994, a 1.8-liter engine with 96 kW (131 hp) output was installed. This version featured a longer rear axle ratio of 4.1:1, rather than the 4.3:1 ratio used on the 1.6-liter engine. The Miata also received a slight facelift in the chassis and interior. The emission values ​​have been improved, and ABS has been added with several airbags. 

Second Generation - Type NB/NB-FL (1998-2005)

Mazda Motor CorporationWikimedia


Mazda presented the second-generation MX-5 Miata with production code NB in January 1998. More powerful engines were offered: the 1.6-liter engine had an output of 81 kW (110 hp), and the 1.8-liter engine had 103 kW (140 hp).

Mazda celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Miata in 1994 with a limited edition of 7,500 units worldwide. This 10th Anniversary model had some special features such as a six-speed gearbox, Bilstein shock absorbers, and five-spoke 15-inch alloy wheels. It had an engine output of 103 kW (140 hp). 

The 10th Anniversary model was only made in sapphire metallic blue. The vinyl roof was also blue. The steering wheel and gear knob were made by Nardi and the top speed of this model was stated by Mazda as 128 mph.

In December 2000, the Miata underwent a facelift (internally NB-FL ), which was reflected in minor modifications to the front and rear and a slightly different interior. There was now also an automatic version with 102 kW (139 hp).

The Mazda Miata was also briefly offered in Asia and the USA as a Mazdaspeed version with a 1.8liter 16v 4-cylinder engine with turbocharger.


Third Generation - Type NC (2005–2015)

Third Generation - Type NCWikimedia

The third-generation Mazda Miata (production code NC ) was presented in March 2005 at the 75th Geneva Motor Show. It was initially available as a pre-sale special, which went on sale in October of 2005. 

This model was based on the Mazda RX -8 underbody and was offered with two different MZR 16-valve gas engines. It improved standard equipment with DSC, traction control, side airbags, and larger disc brakes and weighs about 220 lbs more than its predecessor. 

In Japan, the third-generation Miata was voted Japanese Car of the Year 2005/2006. From the fall of 2006, the Roadster-Coupé version was also available with a plastic folding roof.



Mazda Miata Type NC Special Editions 

Mazda Miata Type NC Special EditionsWikimedia


3rd Generation Limited

The “3rd generation” edition of the Miata was introduced in October 2005 limited to 3500 vehicles. The special model had a 2.0-liter gasoline engine with 118 kW (160 hp) and six-speed manual transmission. 

The exterior was enhanced with chrome trimmings all around. The windshield frame, front grille, door handles, fog lights and side indicators all got the chrome treatment. The 17-inch aluminum wheels were combined with a sports chassis and Bilstein shock absorbers. 

The heated seats and the door panels were covered with red leather to match. A 3rd Generation Limited plaque with an integrated serial number sat on the center console. In addition to automatic climate control and a multifunction leather steering wheel, there was a Bose sound system included. 

There are silver-colored applications on the dashboard. When it was new, it also came with a package that included a Fila polo shirt, Levi's jeans, Puma shoes, and a pilot's watch made exclusively for Mazda. The watch dial was painted in the same color as the car and it had a red leather strap.




The limited special model Mithra was named after the Persian sun god, and it was available from April 2007. It was offered in the Mithra Emotion versions with a 1.8-liter engine, five-speed manual transmission, and 16-inch aluminum wheels based on the Emotion equipment, as well as Mithra Expression with a 2.0-liter engine, six-speed manual transmission, and 17- inch aluminum wheels. 

Both variants have a black fabric top that could be combined with Festival Black, Tiamat Blue, and Argos Green metallic paint finishes. There are also fog lights, chrome accents on the front grille, door handles, and roll bars, as well as a white third brake light and white side markers with chrome details. 

The interior offers beige-grey, heated sports leather seats, and beige decorative stitching on the gear knob, on the handbrake handle, and on the leather steering wheel. The standard equipment also included automatic climate control, a wind deflector, and silver inserts on the dashboard.



Black & White

The Black & White special model, limited to 250 units, was offered as a roadster in two variants in September 2006. What they both have in common is the brilliant black or Pegasus white paint finish and the light-alloy wheels.

As the Black & White Energy based on the Energy trim level, the vehicle was available with a 1.8 or 2.0-liter engine and five-speed manual transmission. The optional light package with fog lights, xenon headlights, and headlight cleaning system was standard on the Energy and cost extra for the Expression. 

The Bose sound system with a six-disc CD changer and seven loudspeakers, as well as the Professional package with an alarm system, and the keyless entry with a stop&start system were also subject to a surcharge. Black heated leather seats, automatic climate control, a multifunction leather steering wheel, and a mobile navigation system lined the interior. 




Named after a Japanese ski resort, the Niseko model was based on the Emotion trim level. It was available from March 2008 for both versions with a five-speed manual gearbox, with the basic model as a roadster with a 1.8-liter engine.

The exterior of the special model is characterized by silver-grey 17-inch aluminum wheels, new chrome applications on the door handle covers, as well as on fog lights and side indicators. 

The five exterior paint finishes are the brilliant black, pegasus white (not available for the roadster coupe), satin silver metallic, gray metallic, and, especially for the special model, blue metallic were combined with a dark brown soft top on the roadster.



20th Anniversary

Mazda presented this special model at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2010 to mark its 20th anniversary. It was only limited to 2000 units. The 20th Anniversary was based on the 1.8-liter engine model with a soft top. 

The equipment was supplemented by an additional strut bar in the engine compartment and some more chrome accents. The decorative elements in the interior and the roll bars of the special model are painted in body colors.



25th Anniversary 

This special model was unveiled at the New York International Auto Show in April 2014. It came in an exclusive color scheme. Soul Red Metallic exterior with a beige leather interior. The 100 copies, offered exclusively in the USA, sold out on May 20, 2014, ten minutes after being offered on the manufacturer's website so, this one is a rare vehicle.




Mazda Miata Type NC Special EditionsWikimedia



A facelifted version (NCFL) of the roadster was presented at the Mondial de l'Automobile in October 2008. Externally, the Miata of the model year 2009 was revised, especially at the front.

Mazda changed the oval cooling air intake and replaced it with the five-point radiator grille in the style of the Mazda RX-8. In addition, the headlights were optically stretched, the brand emblem was emphasized more clearly and the surrounds of the fog lights were changed. 

Furthermore, the exterior mirrors have been aerodynamically optimized and the side skirts have a light edge. The taillights have also been aerodynamically and visually revised. In addition, the roadster coupé is now distinguished from the roadster by a chrome-rimmed grille with a wire mesh pattern and chrome-trimmed fog lamps.

A sports package included Recaro seats and automatic transmission for the 2.0-liter engine. It was also offered with a 6-speed manual transmission, Bilstein sports suspension, xenon headlights, and aluminum pedals. The coupe was offered with automatic air conditioning as standard while the soft-top model was delivered with manual air conditioning.

The pistons, crankshaft, and valve springs of the 2.0-liter engine have been revised and the rev limiter has been raised by 500 revolutions to 7500 rpm with the same output. An induction sound enhancer was also installed from the engine compartment into the interior, which is intended to ensure a more intensive engine sound. 

Driving performance has improved slightly, while fuel consumption has been reduced. In addition, the ESP has been adjusted less sensitively and the six-speed manual transmission shifted more easily than before thanks to the carbon coating.

As of the revision, the Miata NC was available in Brilliant Black, Cardinal Red, Arachne White, Plutos Silver, Carmine Red, Kronos Gray, and Tiamat Blue. Except for the first two paints, these were all metallic colors.

Cruisematic cruise control, a Bluetooth hands-free system with voice control, an outside temperature and fuel consumption display, five-stage seat heating in conjunction with leather seats, and a tire pressure monitoring system were included in different packages with the facelift.

In the interior, the center console has been changed, the center bar of the cup holder can now be removed, and the armrest is upholstered. The door panels were also revised, as was the audio system, which received a different operating concept.




In the fall of 2012, the Miata has revised again. The changes were largely limited to appearance. It got a redesigned front bumper, which made the vehicle appear more aggressive and also improve aerodynamics. The outer two elements of the bumper, which contain the fog lights, are now sloping outwards, and the large air intake in the middle tapers downwards. 

The brake booster was revised and a more direct response to acceleration contributed to increasing driving pleasure. There were no changes to the engines, the two four-cylinder engines with 1.8 liters and 93 kW (126 hp) and 2.0 liters and 118 kW (160 hp) remained.



Fourth Generation - Type ND (2015 - Present)

Fourth Generation - Type NDWikimedia

Mazda presented the fourth generation of the Miata in September 2014 in three countries (USA, Spain, and Japan) at the same time. Production started in March 2015 in Japan. This Mazda follows the Kodo design line and Kodo means "soul of movement". This time in Miata, the body and axles were made of aluminum. The soft top, which is thicker and therefore better insulated, is operated manually as on the previous Roadster. 

Mazda presented a version with an electrically operated folding roof at the New York International Auto Show 2016. The cockpit is not much different than that of the Mazda2 and CX-3.

Like its predecessors, the fourth Miata is only available with a gasoline engine and rear-wheel drive. The base version has a new 1.5-liter engine with 96 kW (131 hp), while the more powerful version uses a two-liter engine with 118 kW (160 hp). Both engines are direct-injected without turbochargers. 

Mazda calls this SkyActiv technology and it includes compression up to 14:1, recessed pistons, aluminum alloy engine block, multi-hole injectors, and 30% less friction. By February 2011 Mazda claims to have applied for more than 130 patents for the design. The crankshaft is made of steel.

With both engines, 80% of the maximum torque is available from 2000 rpm. Modifications to the camshaft and the moving parts allowed the rev limit of the 1.5-l engine to be raised to 7500 rpm. Regardless of the engine selected, the manual transmission always has six gears.  

The Miata always distributes its weight evenly over both axles, which is called a 50:50 weight distribution. The chassis came with double wishbones at the front and multi-link suspension at the rear. The brake system uses disc brakes on both axles, internally ventilated at the front.


Protecting Your Mazda MX-5 Miata

Protecting Your Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mazda Miata is a real driver’s car. Everyone who enjoys driving will enjoy driving a Miata. The 50:50 weight distribution is extremely important for driving pleasure and it can otherwise only be achieved with cars like the Porsche 911. 

There was a great idea behind the MX-5 Miata and Mazda executed it in a spectacular fashion. It might not take you to your destination very quickly with its tiny engines but it will surely put a smile on your face every time you drive one. 

That’s why Mazda Miatas are immensely popular and it’s very hard to find a good one to buy. If you do, you should do everything you can to protect it so you can enjoy it for longer. After all, it is a legendary roadster and it deserves nothing less than great care. 

Mazda vehicles usually don’t suffer from too many mechanical failures if it isn’t pushed to the limit constantly. However, Miata is a fragile car and you will want to push it towards the limit from time to time. 

If you are going to use this roadster as a weekend car, you should keep it covered, just like any other convertible. If you have an indoor garage, take a look at the Custom Satin Stretch Car Cover from Coverking. If you are going to leave it outside, a StormProof Car Cover will be your best friend. 

If you own an older model, you are going to need some seat covers. We recommend you take a look at all seat covers from Coverking and choose the one you like. Pick up a Custom Fit Sunshield while you are at it and you are good to go! 


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Tankut Basar

Tankut Basar is an ARA (American Rally Assoc.) Racing Driver and an FIA Bronze Category License Holder. His passion for driving began with karting like most racers. He started racing internationally at the age of 22. Tankut loves everything car-related and will keep enjoying the drive until the end.