Mazda has just officially announced it has stopped production of the Miata MX5. In a statement on Mazda Japan’s website, it says, “Sales of the current model have been discontinued.” Short, but sweet. Or not so sweet, as the Miata is such a popular sports car and aftermarket focus.
The good news is that there is a refreshed Miata in the works. When it will be released has not been reported, but it won’t be an entirely new model, at least not until 2024. Because what Mazda does in Japan applies here, expect the refreshed model to arrive sometime in 2022. In many ways, we’re lucky to have the Miata at all as sales have mostly been on the low side.
Miata has seen sales continually slide
Sales in 1989 through 1991 were above 30,000 a year. Then there was a slow, steady drop in sales figures leading up to 7,753 sold in 2019, and 8,807 last year. So Mazda is in no hurry to make any big changes to the Miata. And when it does, it will undoubtedly be a hybrid by 2030.
That said, the current 2.0-liter N/A four-cylinder will remain, with 181 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. Either the automatic or manual transmission is a six-speed affair, though we would recommend skipping the automatic. So the Miata will be in its simplest, most traditional form, for the next few years. But as with the entire auto industry, electrification is coming.
Since its debut in 1989, the Miata has seen three major redesigns. Yet, it remains as recognizable, and also as nimble, as that first production model in 1990. It’s small, tight, and has remained rear-wheel drive, too. And maybe the best part is that it has also remained affordable.
Mazda’s first Miata had traditional sports car feature in a modern package
The first Miata NA took on a traditional small sports car layout but modernized it. Lightweight, it was powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder, with 161 hp. And back then, you could only have the Miata in blue, red, or white. Mazda kept it small and simple. In 1991 it offered British Racing Green, which was more than a subtle hint of its designer’s overall inspiration.
Changes emerged in 1994 when Mazda kicked up the horsepower by poking out the banger to 1.8-liters. That was good for 128 hp. With more power came larger brakes, and bracing. A cross-body brace was added behind the seats, with side impact beams in the doors. Also, a passenger airbag was added.
Subtle improvements came over the next several years. Then, in 1999, the second-generation Miata arrived. Both the body and interior were all new, yet under the skin, it was the same Miata. Gone were the pop-up headlights, replaced with fixed versions. The body saw a bit of redesign, giving it a more pronounced look.
In 2004 the Miata got huffed with a turbo setup from Mazdaspeed. This bumped up the horsepower to 178. Other improvements included 17-inch wheels and a stiffer and lower suspension. Its 0-60 times were in the mid-six-seconds range.
The Miata got larger and heavier in 2006
A whole new Miata debuted in 2006. It was now called the MX-5 and got a new, larger unibody body. The larger 2.0-liter four-cylinder debuted, with 170 hp. This offset the added weight. While remaining the same for the next several years, it did see a “Power Retractable Hardtop” or PRHT in 2007. A new front fascia arrived in 2009, along with a better-sorted sport suspension that helped diminish understeer.
The next big change came in 2016 with the fourth-generation ND MX-5 Miata. Many improvements included a smaller, lighter body, that was also shorter than the original. This helped to offset the myriad of crash-safety components mandated by the feds. Front and side airbags were just a part of those additions.
The fourth-gen models are the quickest ever
With 155 hp, the MX-5 is the quickest in Mazda history. The next year Mazda added a retractable fastback top. Those who have owned more than one generation say it reduced noise in the cockpit by plenty.
In 2019 the Miata received another power increase to 181 hp. And for this, its 30th anniversary, a special orange version was made, but only 500. They sold out quickly.