3 Best Mazda Miata Years for Best Ownership Experience
The Mazda Miata is the most loved convertible on the road today. With a cult following for being a cheap, reliable, and fun roadster, getting wrapped up in wanting to own one is easy. Over thirty years after the Miata was first released, it still tops the list of fun sports cars. The Mazda convertible is not only a great driver’s car, but it can be a great cruiser or daily driver. Tossing the top down on a summer afternoon and taking off for the night is an incredible experience. Although, with so many years to choose from, which ones give you the best experience? Here are the three best Mazda Miata years to own.
1. 1995 Mazda Miata
Starting with the first and most iconic generation, the 1995 Mazda Miata is one of the best years to own. These cars are the later version of the first generation, so they come with some much-needed upgrades. Keeping the pop-up headlights and lightweight design, the NA8 chassis codes are well-equipped. Starting with the engine, in 1994, Mazda moved from the 1.6-liter four-cylinder to the 1.8-liter. The increase in engine size means a jump from 116 horsepower to 133 horsepower. It may not seem like much, but it is a massive difference in a car that weighs just over a ton.
Along with the larger engine, updates were made to the drivetrain, like stronger differentials and axles, bigger brakes, and the addition of anti-lock brakes. Interior upgrades consisted of a redesigned dashboard which included a passenger airbag, seatbelt tower crossbar to help with side impact safety, and a better seat design.
2. 2005 Mazdaspeed Miata
In 2004, Mazda decided to give its roadster the Mazdaspeed performance treatment. These cars are the only factory-delivered, turbocharged models of the Miata. Using the standard second-generation car, Mazda took the 1.8-liter engine and equipped it with a turbocharger and intercooler to increase performance. As a result, power moved from 143 horsepower and 116 torque to 173 horsepower and 167 torque. These cars were also equipped with a closer ratio six-speed transmission and a clutch-type limited-slip differential.
Other upgrades like Bilstein shocks, Racing Hart wheels, and unique interior trim completed the Mazdaspeed treatment. Car and Driver gave the car a great review overall upon release. Unfortunately, only 5,428 of these models were made for the US market in 2004 and 2005. Special paint colors were also used, with Titanium Gray Metallic and Velocity Red Mica being the most common. The “MSM,” as the community calls it, is one of the most sought-after versions of the roadster.
3. 2014 Mazda MX-5
Next in line is the facelifted third generation of the Miata. The NC chassis code is called a “boat” because of its heavier, more bulbous redesign from the previous two generations. However, it is still a Miata and incredibly fun to drive. Most facelifted years are on the table, but a 2014 model year seems to be the best value in the current market. While the cars are heavier than usual, they are still around 2500 pounds. Coupling that with the 2.0-liter engine, which makes 167 horsepower and 140 torque, makes it feel like the added weight is not even there. Not only that, but the car finally feels updated from the original 1990 release.
If you can find one, the optional Club trim package is the best version of the car. A Club package adds some black design elements to the exterior, larger wheels, Bilstein shocks, and fine-tuned suspension. Overall, the handling of the Club trim is improved, and for the money, it allows you to hold off on modifying the car right out of the box.
Which Mazda Miata year is the best?
As an honorable mention, the newest generation MX-5 is an incredible choice. Avoiding the first few years because of transmission issues, the fourth generation is one of the best. However, it is still over $20,000, even in used condition. Therefore, the earlier generations provide a better value. If you are looking for the best handling, lightest, most modifiable version of a Miata, then the 2004 or 2005 Mazdaspeed versions are the ones to look for. It takes everything you would love about the first generation and improves upon it while keeping the tuner car feel you might lose from the third generation.