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The Mazda Miata has long been one of the most popular small sports cars on the road. It’s agile, stylish, and affordable. But is it practical? The answer is a resounding yes, but just how practical it is can depend partly on which Miata you buy. Let’s take a closer look at this awesome car and what its various models have had to offer throughout the years. 

A brief history of the Mazda Miata

Mazda Miata (MX-5) logo, maker of the most practical Miata, on the back of the car.
Mazda MX-5 | Getty Images

Mazda first released the Miata MX-5 in the U.S. in 1989, and it quickly rose to popularity, eventually becoming a best-selling two-seat convertible. In its first iteration, the MX-5 came with a 1.6-liter, 116 hp four-cylinder engine and could reach speeds of up to 116 mph. Drivers weren’t given a choice about transmission, which was a five-speed manual. Beginning in 1994, the Miata came with an upgraded standard 1.8 L engine.

The second generation Miata was introduced in 1998, although changes to the model were minimal. The most notable difference involved the styling of its headlights. However, horsepower had reached 140 by 1999. 

The third-generation Mazda Miata MX-5 subsequently appeared in 2005, introducing a wider body and the capacity to make 170 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque. After some tweaks along the way, the fourth-generation Miata MX-5 came out in 2015, offering 155 hp and the ability to go from 0 to 60 mph in just 6 seconds. 

Here’s a look at the most practical Miata

With all of the Miata models and variations produced over the years, it can be hard to know which one to choose. If you’re looking to snag the most practical version possible, Autoblog recommends the third-generation, 2006 to 2015 MX-5.

The main reason for Autoblog’s recommendation is the car’s relative spaciousness. The vehicle is the largest of the Miatas, making it more comfortable for taller passengers. It also offers 5.3 cu-ft of cargo space, making it especially helpful for conducting errands such as grocery shopping.  For those in search of convertible fun, in addition to practicality, it also has the advantage of being able to fully lower its roof. 

The 2019 and newer Mazda MX-5 gets named the best Miata


8 Quirky Features in the 2019 Mazda Miata

While Autoblog declared the third-generation MX-5 the most practical Miata, it has a different idea regarding the question of which Miata is “best.” This is awarded to the fourth-generation 2019 and newer Miata MX-5. 

One of the main reasons for Autoblog’s recommendation is the fourth-gen MX-5’s increased power and performance. Capable of 181 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque, the latest Miata iteration is the most powerful. It’s also remarkably lightweight, making some smooth sailing when behind the wheel. 

Autoblog also gives rave reviews to the fourth-gen MX-5’s shifter, which the website comments that it “shifts from slot to slot effortlessly.” Despite its sportiness, Autoblog notes that the car is perfectly adequate for daily driving, unlike many other sports cars that aren’t nearly such a smooth ride. 

If you’re considering buying a Miata, the truth is that it’s hard to go wrong, no matter which one you end up selecting. The fourth-generation car is still plenty practical, while the third-gen offers the opportunity for convertible fun. Anyone looking for an affordable yet fun mini-sports car is unlikely to be disappointed with the Mazda Miata. The only real question is where you’ll go for your first convertible ride.