There are very few sports cars that offer everything the Mazda MX-5 Miata does.
Now in its fourth generation, the Mazda MX-5 Miata has built a reputation for being a no-frills sports car, focusing on being fun to drive rather than squeezing as much power out of its engine. Since its introduction in 1989, the MX-5 Miata has gone on to become one of the most successful droptops in the market, and this year, it’s celebrating the one-millionth unit with a spectacular tour around the U.S.
If you have ever met an MX-5 Miata owner before, you’ll know that they likely have nothing but good things to say about their car, and for good reason. So here are 10 things Mazda MX-5 Miata owners understand better than anyone else.
10. Cars Don’t Have to be Complicated
From the ground up, the Mazda MX-5 Miata was designed to be a small, uncomplicated roadster. In fact, Mazda focused so much on it being lightweight that it basically has the minimal mechanical complexity a modern car can have, while still meeting all legal and safety requirements. While other sports cars feature fancy electronics and complex all-wheel-drive systems, the Miata sticks to what it knows best.
9. There Really can be a Connection Between Driver and Car
If you ever watched the older episodes of Top Gear starring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, you know the three often talk about the connection between driver and car. It’s actually a part of the MX-5 Miata’s mantra, what the Japanese automaker refers to as Jinba Ittai. Mazda relates the relationship between driver and car to the symbiotic relationship developed over time by a horse and rider. In the company’s eyes, “driving the MX-5 Miata feels like a natural extension of your being.”
The former program manager for the MX-5 at Mazda Japan, Takeo Kijima explained how the company worked hard to implement the latest technologies and the Jinba Ittai principle into the Miata: “For instance, the location of the shift lever, whether it’s more in the front, off to the side or farther back, will determine what muscles are used to operate it. We need to balance the amount of strength needed to feel oneness.”
At the end of the day, you can’t help but agree with Kijima when he says, “When the car and driver are in perfect harmony, driving is fun.”
8. There’s Value in History
In 2014, the Mazda MX-5 Miata celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special edition model limited to 100 units and it sold out in just 10 minutes. It was also the perfect time to look back and see just how much the Miata means when it comes to recent history of sports cars. It’s the most popular roadster of all time, having been cleverly modeled after legendary British roadsters like MGs and Triumphs with rear-wheel drive. When it was introduced onto the market in 1990, it had very little competition, but some would say the sports car revived the industry for two-seater convertibles all on its own.
The second-generation model arrived in 1999, with Mazda unexpectedly adding around 200 pounds to the weight, tipping the scales at 2,348 lbs. It did however, gain 25 more ponies to the tune of 140 horsepower, but the more important factor was that Mazda retained the sports car’s balance.
A few years later, the third-generation Miata was introduced in 2005 after sluggish sales of the second-generation model. A redesign was needed and Mazda called in the assistance of Moray Callum, brother of famous Jaguar designer Ian Callum. Weight dropped to 2,542 lbs, while a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine provided 170 hp. The model also introduced the MX-5 Miata Power Retractable Hard Top, making the Miata even more versatile in the marketplace.
7. There’s True Beauty in a Rear-Drive Sports Car, That’s Also a Convertible
Convertibles may not be as popular around the world as they are in the U.S., but it’s hard to argue there isn’t something absolutely stunning with their design. But unlike other cars that receive convertible variants based off an existing coupe model, the Miata is initially developed to be a roadster, ensuring it’s designed as one. Miata owners can truly appreciate not only the beauty and fun of driving a lightweight, rear-wheel-drive sports car, but one that can drop its top to enjoy the open air.
6. A Sports Car Doesn’t Have to be Expensive
The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata starts from $25,750 including destination, proving that owning a sports car doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. One could argue that before the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ were introduced onto the market, the Miata sat in a class of its own. Sure, there are other offerings like Mustangs and Camaros, but those aren’t exactly known for being lightweight. The truth is, many automotive enthusiasts have different opinions on the definition of a sports car, but very few would say the Miata isn’t one.
5. Driving a Smaller, More Nimble Roadster can be one of the Greatest Driving Experiences Ever
Some think the pinnacle of driving experiences is getting behind the wheel of a luxury exotic like a Ferrari or Lamborghini. Others would say pure driving enjoyment can only come from piloting a lightweight, rear-wheel-drive sports car. You don’t have to take our word for it, former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson recently released his top 10 Star Cars that he’s driven in the past year or so and the Miata makes an appearance. Simply put, small and nimble roadsters offer one of the greatest driving experiences you can ever have in a car with four wheels, and the Miata is one of the best available, and you don’t have to wait until you’re old and rich to afford one.
4. Affordable Modifications go a Long Way to Improving the Driving Experience
Realistically, no car is perfect from the factory due to regulations and emissions requirements, not to mention price. But the aftermarket loves the Miata and owners are blessed with the opportunity to upgrade their machines at a low cost. Simple things such as stickier tires, bigger brake pads or a beefier sway bar go a long way in improving the Miata’s performance. Even basic bolt-on parts can help the engine breath better, offering even more power without having to break open your piggy bank.
ALSO SEE: Why Have There Been a Million Miatas?
3. Racing can be Affordable and Fun
There’s a reason why the Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of the most raced cars in the world. Not only is it affordable to get into, but the Japanese automaker fully supports motorsports activities with its own MX-5 Cup. The latest MX-5 Cup race car saw over 70 units delivered in less than seven months and as of late June, Mazda had received its 100th order. Priced from $53,000, the MX-5 Cup race car is cheaper than some luxury sports cars and offers a lot more fun.
2. A 50/50 Weight Balance isn’t just Marketing Jargon
You likely have heard it at least once in your life, an automaker bragging about how its car has a perfect 50/50 weight distribution. That means the vehicle has the same weight on both the front and rear axles. To show just how much development went into the latest Miata, Mazda released a video showcasing how the compact sports car was finely tuned for pure driving perfection. Weighing 2,332 lbs, Mazda sought a perfect 50/50 balance with a driver inside and that’s no easy feat. And if you drove a Miata everyday on the streets, you would know that its 50/50 weight distribution is more than just the marketing department’s way of making a fancy video.
1. Power-to-Weight Ratio Proves Horsepower isn’t Everything
At the end of the day, the Mazda MX-5 Miata proves that the power-to-weight ratio is the most important specification when it comes to pure driving pleasure. Sure, most cars advertise their horsepower, torque, zero-to-60 and even quarter-mile times, but few brag about their power-to-weight ratio unless they can. Leading up to the fourth-generation Miata’s release, many speculated that Mazda would turn to forced induction to give the Miata more power, but Mazda knew better. That’s because horsepower isn’t everything when it comes to making a car fun to drive. Its the Miata’s focus on being lightweight that allows it to use a smaller engine that doesn’t even push out 200 ponies. And best of all, it’s something you won’t even notice once you get behind the wheel.