Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5
Mazda MX-5
2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT Special Edition (US)
Manufacturer Mazda
Also called Mazda MX-5 Miata
Mazda Miata
Eunos Roadster
Mazda Roadster
Production 1989–present
Assembly Hiroshima, Japan
Class Roadster/Sports Car
Layout FR layout
Platform Mazda N platform

The MX-5, also known as Miata (play /miˈɑːtə/) in North America and Eunos Roadster in Japan, is a lightweight two-seater roadster, of front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, built by Mazda in Hiroshima, Japan. The model was introduced in 1989 at the Chicago Auto Show. The MX-5 was conceived as a small roadster – with light weight and minimal mechanical complexity limited only by legal and safety requirements; technologically modern, but a philosophically direct descendant of the small British roadsters of the 1960s such as the Triumph Spitfire, Austin-Healey Sprite, MG MGB and mainly the Lotus Elan.

The second generation MX-5 (NB) was launched in 1998 and the current (NC) model has been in production since 2006. It continues to be the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car in history[1] and by February 2011, 900,000 MX-5s have been built and sold around the world.[2]

Since the launch of the third generation MX-5, Mazda consolidated worldwide marketing using the MX-5 name, though enthusiasts in the US still refer to it as Miata, a name that means "reward" in Old High German, and the vehicle in 2011 was still marketed by Mazda in the US as the MX-5 Miata in printed showroom brochures.[3]


Generations and overview

The MX5's first generation, the NA, sold over 400,000 units from 1989 to 1997 – with a 1.6 L (98 cu in) straight-4 engine to 1993, a 1.8 L (110 cu in) engine thereafter (with a de-tuned 1.6 as a budget option in some markets) – recognizable by its pop-up headlights. The second generation (NB) was introduced in 1998 with a slight increase in engine power; it can be recognized by the fixed headlights and the glass rear window. The third generation (NC) was introduced in 2005 with a 2.0 L (120 cu in) engine.

It was launched at a time when production of small roadsters had fallen into almost total disuse. The Alfa Romeo Spider was the only comparable volume model in production at the time of the MX-5's launch. Just a decade earlier, a whole host of similar models - notably the MG B, Triumph TR7, Triumph Spitfire and Fiat Spider - had been available.

The body is a conventional, but light, unibody or monocoque construction, with (detachable) front and rear subframes. The MX-5 also incorporates a truss marketed as the Powerplant Frame (PPF) which connects the engine to the differential, minimizing flex and contributing to responsive handling. Some MX-5s feature limited slip differentials and anti-lock braking system. Traction control is an option available on NC models. The earlier cars weighed in at just over a ton, with engine power output usually 116 bhp (87 kW). The later cars were heavier, with higher power engines.

With an approximate 50:50 front/rear weight balance, the car has nearly neutral handling. Inducing oversteer is easy and very controllable, thus making the MX-5 a popular choice for amateur and stock racing, including, in the US, the Sports Car Club of America's Solo2 autocross and Spec Miata race series and in the UK the Ma5da racing championship.

The MX-5 has won many awards including Wheels Magazine 's Car of the Year for 1989 and 2005; Sports Car International's "best sports car of the 1990s" and "ten best sports cars of all time"; 2005-2006 Car of the Year Japan; and 2005 Australian Car of the Year. The Miata has also made Car and Driver magazine's annual Ten Best list 10 times. In their December 2009 issue, Grassroots Motorsports magazine named the Miata as the most important sports car built during the previous 25 years.

In 2009, Automotive critic Jeremy Clarkson wrote:

The fact is that if you want a sports car, the MX-5 is perfect. Nothing on the road will give you better value. Nothing will give you so much fun. The only reason I’m giving it five stars is because I can’t give it 14.[4]

From idea to production

In 1976, Bob Hall, a journalist at Motor Trend magazine who was an expert in Japanese cars and fluent in the language, met Kenichi Yamamoto and Gai Arai, head of Research and Development at Mazda. Yamamoto and Gai Arai asked Hall what kind of car Mazda should make in the future:[5]

I babbled [...] how the [...] simple, bugs-in-the-teeth, wind-in-the-hair, classically-British sports car doesn't exist anymore. I told Mr. Yamamoto that somebody should build one [...] inexpensive roadster.[6]

In 1981, Hall moved to a product planning position with Mazda US and again met Yamamoto, now chairman of Mazda Motors, who remembered their conversation about a roadster and in 1982 gave Hall the go-ahead to research the idea further.[5] At this time Hall hired designer Mark Jordan to join the newly formed Mazda design studio in Southern California. There, Hall and Jordan collaborated on the parameters of the initial image, proportion and visualization of the "light-weight sports" concept. In 1983, the idea turned concept was approved under the "Offline 55" program, an internal Mazda initiative that sought to change the way new models were developed. Thus, under head of project Masakatsu, the concept development was turned into a competition between the Mazda design teams in Tokyo and California.[5]

The Californian team proposed a front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, codenamed Duo 101, in line with the British roadster ancestry, but their Japanese counterparts favored the more common front-engine, front-wheel drive layout or the rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout.

The first round of judging the competing designs was held in April 1984. At this stage, designs were presented solely on paper. The mid-engined car appeared the most impressive, although it was known at the time that such a layout would struggle to meet the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) requirements of the project. It was only at the second round of the competition in August 1984, when full-scale clay models were presented, that the Duo 101 won the competition and was selected as the basis for Mazda's new light-weight sports car.

The Duo 101, so named as either a soft top or hard top could be used, incorporated many key stylistic cues inspired by the Lotus Elan, a 1960s roadster. International Automotive Design (IAD) in Worthing, England was commissioned to develop a running prototype, codenamed V705. It was built with a fiberglass body, a 1.4 L (85 cu in) engine from a Mazda Familia and components from a variety of early Mazda models. The V705 was completed in August 1985 and taken to the US where it rolled on the roads around Santa Barbara and got positive reactions.

The project received final approval on 18 January 1986.[5] The model's codename was changed to P729 as it moved into production phase, under head of program Toshihiko Hirai. The task of constructing five engineering mules (more developed prototypes) was again allocated to IAD, which also conducted the first front and rear crash tests on the P729. While Tom Matano,[7] Mark Jordan, Wu Huang Chin, Norman Garrett and Koichi Hayashi worked on the final design, the project was moved to Japan for engineering and production details.

By 1989, with a definitive model name now chosen, the MX-5 (as in "Mazda Experiment", project number 5) was ready to be introduced to the world as a true lightweight sports car, weighing just 940 kg (2,100 lb).

Although Mazda's concept was for the MX-5 to be an inexpensive sports car, the market proved extremely eager for it; the car became an overnight novelty, resulting in many dealers placing customers on lists for pre-order due to the demand exceeding the anticipated supply. Several dealers across North America resultingly took advantage of this high demand and dramatically increased the markup on the vehicle; some asked for as much as USD $17,000 retail price.

Jinba ittai

The design credo Mazda has used across the three generations of the MX5's development was the phrase Jinba ittai (人馬一体?, [dʑimba itːai]),[8] which translates loosely into English as "rider (jin) horse (ba) as one body (ittai)".[8]

With the first generation of the MX-5, the phrase was developed into five specific core design requirements:[8]

  • That the car would be as compact and as light as possible while meeting global safety requirements.
  • That the cockpit would comfortably accommodate two full-stature[clarification needed] occupants with no wasted space.
  • That the basic layout would continue with the original's front-midship rear-drive configuration with the engine positioned ahead of the driver but behind the front axle for 50:50 weight distribution.
  • That all four wheels would be attached by wishbone or multi-link suspension systems to maximize tire performance, road grip, and dynamic stability.
  • And that a power-plant frame would again provide a solid connection between the engine and rear-mounted differential to sharpen throttle response.

First generation (NA)

First Generation (NA)
Production 1989-1998
Body style 2-door roadster
Platform Mazda NA
Engine 1.6 L (98 cu in) B6ZE(RS) I4
1.8 L (110 cu in) BP I4
Transmission 5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
Wheelbase 89.2 in (2,270 mm)
Length 155.4 in (3,950 mm)
Width 65.9 in (1,670 mm)
Height 48.2 in (1,220 mm)
Curb weight 940 kg (2,100 lb)

The MX-5 was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show on February 10, 1989, with a price tag of US$14,000 (US$25,400 in 2011 adjusted for inflation[9]).[citation needed] The MX-5, with production code NA, was made available for delivery to buyers worldwide in the following dates: March 1989 in Japan; May 1989 (as a 1990 model) in the US and Canada; and 1990 in Europe. An optional hardtop was made available at the same time, in sheet moulding compound (SMC). Demand initially outstripped production, fueled by enthusiastic press reviews.

In Japan, the car was not badged as a Mazda, as the company was experimenting with the creation of different marques for deluxe models, similar to Nissan's Infiniti and Toyota's Lexus (both brands of which launched at the same time as the Miata). Instead, the Mazda MX-5 was sold as the Eunos Roadster in that market.

The body shell of the NA was all-steel with a light-weight aluminium hood. Overall dimensions were 3,970 mm (156 in) in length, 1,675 mm (65.9 in) in width, and 1,235 mm (48.6 in) in height. Without options, the NA weighed only 2,150 lb (980 kg). Drag coefficient was indicated as 0.38. Suspension was an independent double wishbone on all four wheels, with an anti-roll bar at the front and rear. Four wheel-disc brakes, ventilated at the front, were behind alloy wheels with 185/60HR14 radial tires. The base model came with stamped steel wheels from the then-current 323/Protege.

1990 Mazda MX5 1,600cc DOHC 4-cylinder engine. This example has been modified with the addition of a GReddy TD04(Mitsubishi) turbocharger kit

The original MX-5 came with a 1.6 L (98 cu in) dual overhead cam inline four-cylinder engine, producing 86 kW (115 bhp) at 6,800 rpm, and 136 N·m (100 lbf·ft) of torque at 5,500 rpm. The engine employs an electronic fuel injection system using a vane-type air flow meter and an electronic ignition system with a camshaft angle sensor instead of a distributor.[10] This engine, codename B6ZE(RS), was specifically designed for the MX-5 and featured a lightened crankshaft, flywheel, and aluminum sump with cooling fins.

Standard transmission was 5-speed manual. In Japan and the US, an optional automatic transmission was also offered but proved to be unpopular. The Japanese and American markets also received an optional viscous limited slip rear differential, although it was only available for cars with a manual transmission. To achieve the low introductory price, the base model was stripped. It had steel wheels, manual steering, roll-up windows, and no stereo or air-conditioning. Power steering, air-conditioning, and stereo were added as standard equipment in later years.

The NA could reach 60 mph (97 km/h) in 9.1 seconds and had a top speed of 116 mph (187 km/h). This first generation of Miata (often referred to as the NA) included a special edition in 1991, produced in British Racing Green with the first use of tan interior.

1990 Mazda MX-5 interior.

1500 LE (Limited Edition) cars were produced in 1993. This model featured red leather interior, upgraded stereo, Nardi shift knob, leather wrapped steering wheel, cruise, limited slip differential, power windows, power mirrors, power steering, air conditioning, BBS wheels, Bilstein shocks, front and rear spoilers, ABS brakes, stainless sill plates, and Harley style peanut tank door speaker trim. All 1993 LE cars came in black.

For the 1994 model year, the first-generation MX-5 was freshened with the introduction of the more powerful 1.8 L (110 cu in) BP-ZE engine, dual airbags and a limited slip differential in some markets. The chassis was substantially braced to meet new side-impact standards, most visibly by adding a "track bar" between the seatbelt towers inside the car, but also to the front and rear subframes. Also, 1994 and 1995 were the only years in which Mazda offered a light metallic blue paint (Laguna Blue Mica), making these cars rare collectors cars to some. 1994 also saw the introduction of the "R" package, a sport-themed package with Bilstein shocks and subtle underbody spoilers, in addition to the removal of unnecessary items such as power steering. No body style changes were made, however.

The new 1.8 L (110 cu in) engine produced 98 kW (131 bhp), which was then increased to 99 kW (133 bhp) for the 1996 model year. The base weight increased to 990 kg (2,200 lb). Performance was improved slightly, the additional power being partly offset by the extra weight. In some markets such as Europe, the 1.6 L (98 cu in) engine continued to be available as a lower-cost option, but was detuned to 66 kW (89 bhp). This lower-powered model did not receive all the additional chassis bracing of the new 1.8 L (110 cu in). Japanese and US cars were fitted with an optional Torsen LSD, which was far more durable than the previous viscous differential.

The retractable headlamps of the NA (front car) were replaced by fixed headlamps on the NB (rear car).

There were a number of trim levels and special editions available, determined by local Mazda marketing departments. In the US, the base model was offered for US$13,995 at launch and was very basic, with manual windows, steel wheels, and without A/C or power steering. The "A Package" offered power steering, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum alloy wheels and cassette stereo. The "B Package" added power windows, along with cruise control and headrest speakers, while the "C Package" included a tan interior and top and leather seats. The "R Package" was for racing, and the annual special editions were formalized as "M Editions". These included all of the luxury options from the "C Package" as well as special paint and, sometimes, special wheels. In the UK, to celebrate Mazda's 24 hours of Le Mans win, Mazda brought out a special edition of the MX-5, with the winner's color scheme (see Mazda 787B) and came equipped with BBR (Brodie Brittain Racing) turbo conversion; the car is one of the most sought after special edition cars of the MX-5s.

The first generation MX-5 was phased out with the 1997 model year (with the exception of 400 limited edition Berkeley models sold only in the UK in 1998 to mark the end of the NA), with the final 1500 NAs produced for the US market being the "STO" ("Special Touring Option") versions.

M2 Special Editions

A small range of Miata units were assembled by the M2 Incorporated. Founded in November 1991, M2, also known as "Mazda Too", was Mazda's new off-line planning / niche-house / Research & Development company back in the early '90s. The M2 Corp. employees had noble intentions — creating niche-mobiles derived from Mazda's volume products. Although M2's basic mission involved focusing on the "soft" aspects of vehicle design in an attempt to create more specifically targeted niche variants, the changes to the off-line cars would go well beyond mere cosmetics.

Heading the M2 operation was Mr. Masakatsu Kato, original father of the Miata (Eunos Roadster) in Japan, as well as creator of several Mazda concept vehicles. Kato-san was assisted by Hirotaka Tachibana, development engineer responsible for the superb dynamics of the FC (second-generation RX-7) and the NA Roadster (Miata MX-5). M2 Corp. was based out of Tokyo, Japan. M2-Corp was a 100% owned subsidiary of Mazda, and it was closed by Mazda in 1995. Mazda kept a similar program going with the Mazdaspeed vehicles, and then in the late '90s Mazdaspeed was absorbed into Mazda as a subsidiary company in Mazda Auto Tokyo. There were many types of M2 branded vehicles between 1991 and 1995, beginning with the 1001 up to the 1031 Cafe Racer (Dec-91).

M2-1001 Cafe Roadster (Dec-91) Limited 1/300 M2 Corp. released the M2-1001 Roadster in December 1991. It was a special "Limited Production" Roadster variant that was a short production run of only 300 units, in a special Blue/Black Mica Paint, with a sticker price of $26,000. Prospective buyers were required to show up in person at M2's Tokyo headquarters to register for a lottery to place an order for this extremely limited Roadster.

This upscale Eunos Roadster was M2's first turn-key, race-ready offering. Here is a list of some of the goodies that made it so popular: functional front airdam with integrated fog lamps, vintage aero mirrors, 4-point roll bar, vintage gauge cluster, fixed back bucket seats, polished 3-spoke steering wheel, stiffer suspension package with M2 specific rates, polished aluminum strut brace, upgraded exhaust by HKS, intake system, 1.6L motor with new aggressive pistons, upgraded camshaft, lightweight flywheel, LSD cooling intake, manual steering, manual windows (A/C was optional), racing pedals, centerless console with matching shortened radio bezel, aluminum gas filler cap, a more aggressive wheel & tire package (15" x 6" Panasport rims), and a rear spoiler (which became standard for the R package). The performance changes made to the Roadster would bump the power to 132 bhp (98 kW) @ 7,000rpm, and 109 lbf·ft (148 N·m) of torque @ 5,500rpm. Once released, it proved so popular that people were paying up to $35,000 for one.

M2-1002 Vintage Roadster (Nov-92) Limited 1/300 M2-CORP released its second Roadster in late 1992, with a sightly different front bumper but all the same items as the previous 1001 Roadster. This one did not do as well as the 1001.

M2-1028 Street Competition Roadster (Feb-94) Limited 1/300 M2-CORP released its third Roadster in early 1994, based on the original "Jinba Ittai" concept made by Toshihiko Hirai. This was billed as a track-ready Roadster. (The US saw a cheaper version known as the R-Package.) Offered in Chaste White or Brilliant Black only, this Roadster used the new 1.8L powerplant with upgraded pistons, camshafts, and other similar goodies as the previous 1001 and 1002. This Roadster had an output of close to 150 bhp (110 kW), and included 14" Eunos Factory Rims with a unique gunmetal paint with polished lip. The only real changes were a new set of lightweight side mirrors, MOMO Steering Wheel, Centerless console, racing seats, racing tow hook, a set of lower lip spoilers (R-Package) and a newly designed "Duck-Tail" trunk lid with integrated spoiler. The M2-1028 trunk lid was made from aluminum and weighed only 7.7 lb (3.5 kg), a very light weight from the original lid of 15.5 lb (7.0 kg). It also came with a 6-point roll cage, but no soft-top, instead featuring a tarp that stretched over the cage. With optional FRP Hardtop with plexiglass rear window for more weight savings coming in at only 19 lb (8.6 kg).

Second generation (NB)

Second Generation (NB)
1999 Miata (Leather package)
Production 1998–2005
Body style 2-door Roadster, 2-door Hardtop
Platform Mazda NB
Engine 1.6 L (98 cu in) B6-ZE I4 (Europe/Japan)
1.8 L (110 cu in) BP-5A I4 (Japan)
1.8 L (110 cu in) BP-4W I4
1.8 L (110 cu in) BP-Z3 I4
1.8 L (110 cu in) turbocharged BPT I4 (Mazdaspeed)
Transmission 5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
6-speed manual
Wheelbase 89.2 in (2,270 mm)
Length 155.3 in (3,940 mm)
2001-02 & Mazdaspeed: 155.7 in (3,950 mm)
Width 1999-2002: 66.0 in (1,680 mm)
2003-05: 66.1 in (1,680 mm)
Height 1999-2002: 48.4 in (1,230 mm)
2003-05: 48.3 in (1,230 mm)
Mazdaspeed: 48.0 in (1,220 mm)
Curb weight 1,065 kg (2,350 lb)
Related Gibbs Aquada

In 1998, Mazda released the second-generation MX-5, production code NB, for the 1999 model year. The NB featured a more powerful engine and external styling cues borrowed from the third generation Mazda RX-7 model. Prices in the United States, the main market for the MX-5, started at US$19,770 (US$26,700 in 2011 adjusted for inflation[9]).

Although many parts of the interior and body were different, the most notable changes were the headlamps: the first generation's retractable headlamps no longer passed pedestrian safety tests and were replaced by fixed ones. The new car grew slightly in width compared to the earlier model; its dimensions were: length 3,945 mm (155.3 in), width 1,678 mm (66.1 in), height 1,228 mm (48.3 in) and wheelbase 2,265 mm (89.2 in). Without options, the NB weighed 1000 kg (2300 lb). The new generation was slightly more aerodynamic than the original, with a Cd figure of 0.36.

The NB continued to employ four-wheel independent suspension, with enlarged anti-roll bars at the front and rear, but the wheels, tires and brakes were significantly upgraded: anti-lock braking system was offered as an option; alloy wheels were now 14 in (360 mm) or 15 in (380 mm) in diameter and 6 in (150 mm) in width, depending on the trim package; sports models were equipped with the larger wheels and 195/50VR15 tires.

The BP-4W engine remained at 1.8 L (110 cu in) but received several minor updates. The engine compression ratio was raised from 9.0:1 to 9.5:1 by adding slightly domed pistons; the intake cam was changed to a solid lifter design with a stronger cam; the intake runners in the head were straightened and the intake manifold was mounted higher up. Mazda's Variable Intake Control System was introduced, which effectively gave a long narrow intake manifold at low rpm for better swirl, changing to a short, free-flowing manifold at high rpm for maximum breathing. Power output of the new engine was quoted at 104.4 kW (140.0 bhp) with 116 lbf·ft (157 N·m) of torque.

The 1.6 L (98 cu in) B6 engine remained available in Europe and Japan. The base-model 1.8 L (110 cu in) NB could reach 62 mph (100 km/h) in 8.5 s and had a top speed of 130 mph (210 km/h).

MX-5 10th Anniversary Model (1999)

In 1999, Mazda celebrated the 10th anniversary of the MX-5 with the 10th Anniversary Model, a limited edition featuring some until-then exclusive features, namely a six-speed transmission and Bilstein shock absorbers; performance figures were slightly different, with slower acceleration but higher top speed than the standard 5 speed model. The model's nickname among owners and enthusiasts was 10AM or 10AE (as in "10th Anniversary Edition"). The car had a unique sapphire blue mica (called innocent blue in Japan) paint colour with two-toned black leather and blue alcantara seats. The addition of the sixth gear resulted in different performance results, with 0–100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.5 seconds, a tenth of a second slower than the standard 5 speed model, due to the heavier weight. However, as the 10AM was heavier, its top rated speed was higher, at 214 km/h (133 mph) instead of 210 km/h (130 mph). Combined consumption was 8.0 instead of 8.5 l/100 km (29 instead of 28 mpg).

Each car was sequentially numbered on a badge on the driver-side front quarter panel. A "Certificate of Authenticity" with the same number came with each car, signed by Mazda President James E. Miller and dated 10 February 1999. On certain markets, a gift set was also included, consisting of a 1/24 scale diecast model, two Seiko-branded wristwatches (his and hers) with matching blue faceplate and Miata logo, and metal keychain in the form of the Miata logo, all encased in a luxury blue velvet box.[5] Despite the publicity that Mazda gave to this model, it took more than a year to sell all units, drawing criticism that too many units had been produced (another factor was the high price with an MSRP of $26,875, about $6500 more than a base model).[citation needed] For comparison,there were 3,500 units of the NC's 3rd Generation Limited launch model in 2005, and regular limited editions produced each year do not usually exceed 1,500 units per region. The polished wheels are notorious for corroding once the thin lacquer coating is damaged. Mazda replaced thousands of sets under warranty.[citation needed] There were minor differences in specification according to the market, such as no sports appearance package (front/side/back skirts, rear wing) or air conditioning for Europe.

7,500 units of the 10th Anniversary were produced,[5] with 3,700 distributed to Europe (of which: 600 - UK, 20 - Portugal), 3,150 to North America (of which 3,000 to US and 150 to Canada), 500 to Japan and 150 to Australia. Car number 7,500 was sold in the UK.

Facelift (2001)

2002 Mazda MX5 1.8 Sport Interior. There are many improvements over the Mk1 Interior, but it still retains the original functional layout and feel

For the 2001 model year, a facelift to the second-generation MX-5 was released. There were some minor exterior changes, with a press-release of July 18, 2000, announcing the changes as "resulting in an even sportier and more forceful look". Some cockpit elements were changed, with the instrument panel gauges receiving a white face and red numbers. The seats were also upgraded, incorporating more support in the side bolsters and taller headrests. Added for top models (designated 'Sport' in the U.K) were 16-inch (410 mm) wheels with 205/45VR16 low-profile tires, larger brakes at the front and rear, additional chassis stiffening braces, a limited slip differential, a 6-speed manual gearbox, Bilstein suspension and heated leather seats. The upgraded tires and suspension allowed the new model to pull 0.91 g in lateral grip in tests by Car and Driver magazine. The body was strengthened, gaining 16% in bending rigidity and 22% in torsional rigidity. With the minimum of options, the 2001 model weighed 1,065 kg (2,350 lb).

2002 Mazda MX5 1,840cc DOHC 4-cylinder engine, with variable valve timing on the intake camshaft

The 1.8 L (110 cu in) BP-Z3 engine was slightly modified and now featured variable valve timing on the intake camshaft. The intake and exhaust system also received a minor upgrade. These modifications resulted in a power output of 113 kW (152 bhp) (Japan, UK and Australia) or 107 kW (143 bhp) (US only). In the United States, Mazda erroneously quoted the power figure for the Japanese and Australian model in early catalogues. Car and Driver magazine and numerous owners confirmed the missing power, and Mazda offered to buy back the 2001 cars due to those misleading power claims. Owners who did not take up the buy back offer were offered an apology and free servicing for the warranty period.

2002 saw the launch of the MX5 SP. The MX-5 SP was developed and sold in Australia and its turbocharged engine produced 157 kW (211 bhp) at 6800 rpm. Only 100 of these cars were built. The SP was very expensive in comparison to a standard MX5 at the time but offered blistering performance. It has fast become a cult classic and sought after model in Australia.

In 2003 Mazda launched a campaign to target a younger group of drivers with the introduction of the Shinsen Version (SV) Miata. The Shinsen (Japanese for "Fresh and New") provided an intermediate step between the base model and the pricier LS. Equipped with most standard features on the LS, such as cruise control and aluminum brush trim. This limited production model also shared an inverted color scheme of the same year Special Edition with a titanium silver exterior and dark blue top and interior.

During the 2004 model year, a division of Mazda in Japan produced the Roadster Coupé, with an integral hardtop roof. The body structure was reworked to incorporate the roof for a substantial increase in chassis rigidity and a weight increase of 10 kg (22 lb). Production was limited to 350 units for Japan only.

Mazdaspeed MX-5 (2004-2005)

2005 Lava Orange Mazdaspeed Miata next to a 2004 Velocity Red Mazdaspeed Miata

The 2004 model year saw the introduction of the official turbocharged Mazdaspeed MX-5, Roadster Turbo in Japan. It featured an IHI RHF5 VJ35 turbocharger equipped variant of the BP-4W engine that produced 180 bhp (134 kW) at 6000 rpm with a front-mounted air-to-air intercooler. The MAZDASPEED could reach 60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.4 seconds but had a top speed of only 203|km/h|126 mph due to its low 6,500 rev limit. With its upgraded suspension and wider tires, the Mazdaspeed model could pull over 0.98 g in lateral grip. Other features included upgraded 6 speed transmission and clutch assemblies, upgraded drivetrain components, Racing Hart 17 in (430 mm) alloy wheels, special interior trim. Perhaps the most obscure detail change of the MazdaSpeed overhaul of the MX-5 was the fitment of a custom, lightweight oil dipstick. The 2004 Mazdaspeed MX-5 was only available in Velocity Red Mica and Titanium Gray Metallic while the 2005 model was available additionally in Lava Orange Mica and Black Mica. Of the 5,428 Mazdaspeed MX-5s produced during model years 2004 and 2005, 4,000 were produced in 2004; the 2005 production run was shortened to only 1428, due to a fire at the production facility. This model was also marketed in Australia as an MX-5 SE without any Mazdaspeed branding (exhaust tip excluded), featured 3.63 diff gears and was available in Sunlight Silver.

Third generation (NC)

Third Generation (NC)
2006-2008 Mazda MX-5 Miata soft-top (US)
Also called Mazda MX-5 Miata (United States)
Production 2005–present
Body style 2-door roadster
2-door hardtop
Platform Mazda NC
Engine 1.8 L (110 cu in) MZR I4 (Europe)
2.0 L (120 cu in) MZR I4
Transmission 5-speed manual
6-speed automatic
6-speed manual
Wheelbase 91.7 in (2,330 mm)
Length 2006-08: 157.3 in (4,000 mm)
2009-: 4,020 mm (158.3 in)
Width 67.7 in (1,720 mm)
Height 2006-08: 49.0 in (1,240 mm)
2006-08 PRHT: 49.4 in (1,250 mm)
2009-: 1,245 mm (49.0 in)
2009- RHT: 1,255 mm (49.4 in)
Curb weight 1,095 kg (2,410 lb)

Production of the third-generation MX-5, code NC, began May 17, 2005, for delivery in August, for the 2006 model year. This was partially due to the declining sales of the MX-5 during its second generation run.

The third-generation MX-5 has fender bulges over the wheel wells.

The exterior styling resembles the original design, but unlike the update from NA to NB, which was mostly a nose/tail/interior change, the NC shares no components with the NB, except for the side-panel turning-lights on non-US models. The lead stylist of this model generation was Moray Callum.

The suspension has changed from a 4-wheel double wishbone setup to a front wishbone/rear multilink setup. Technologies like traction control and stability control were added to increase driveability. According to Car and Driver, the NC has a skidpad number of 0.90g.

For the US, the engine is the new 16-valve, 2.0 L (120 cu in) MZR I4, producing 170 bhp (130 kW) and 140 lbf·ft (190 N·m) coupled to either a 5-speed or a 6-speed manual transmission or 158 bhp (118 kW) with the optional 6-speed automatic transmission. A limited slip differential is available with the 6-speed option. In Australia the 2.0 L (120 cu in) MZR is offered, rated at 118 kW (158 bhp) and 188 N·m (139 lbf·ft) and the 6-speed transmission and LSD are standard. In Europe, two engines are offered: the 2.0 L (120 cu in) MZR rated at 158 bhp (118 kW) and 188 N·m (139 lbf·ft), coupled to the 6-speed manual transmission; and a new 1.8 L (110 cu in) MZR, rated at 126 bhp (94 kW) and 167 N·m (123 lbf·ft), coupled to the 5-speed manual transmission.

A rather unusual photo of an NC model mechanicals separated from the body

A six-speed automatic transmission, with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, is optional. A test by Car and Driver magazine revealed a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of 6.5 s for the 2.0 L (120 cu in) U.S.-spec NC.[11] Manufacturer figures for the European-spec model are: 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 9.4 s (1.8 L (110 cu in)) and 7.9 s (2.0 L (120 cu in)).

The NC was launched with a special edition called "3rd Generation Limited" which featured added chrome accents and special wheels. 3500 were built worldwide (300 in the UK, 750 in the US, 150 in Canada), delivered in advance of standard models.

The NC offers a wider range of accessories for customization than the earlier generations. The softtop, in cloth instead of vinyl, can now be chosen in more than two colors: black and cream as previously, but also grey, camel, blue and green; and the interior can be customized to the exterior paint color.

2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT Special Edition (US)

In July 2006, Mazda unveiled a coupé convertible version of the NC with a three-piece folding hardtop, named "MX-5 Roadster Coupe" in Europe, "Roadster Power Retractable Hard Top" in Japan, and "MX-5 Miata Power Retractable Hard Top" in Canada and the US. Adding 36 kg (79 lb) to the weight of a comparable model with soft top, the hard top takes 12 seconds to raise or lower and it does not take any of the existing trunk space when folded down. The first units were delivered to customers in late August, for a price premium less than the cost of a separate hard top. Performance times are slightly affected with the weight increase, to 9.6 s (1.8 L (110 cu in)) and 8.2 s (2.0 L (120 cu in)) from 0-100 km/h (62 mph), but top speed is increased from 196 km/h (121.8 mph) to 200 km/h (124.3 mph) (1.8 L (110 cu in)) and from 210 km/h (130 mph) to 215 km/h (134 mph) (2.0 L (120 cu in)), for the European-spec model.

For 2008, Mazda released a Special Edition MX-5 in Icy Blue exterior, with exclusive Dark Saddle Brown folding top, with matching leather with blue stitching steering wheel, seats, and hand brake. The Special Edition also featured a silver-accented shift knob, dark-silver finished instrument panel with chrome accents, special 17 in (430 mm) alloy wheels, stainless steel MX-5 scuff plate, and chrome front headlight bezel, as well as grille and fog lamp surrounds. The 2008 Special Edition was limited to 105 PRHT-equipped units in Canada and 750 soft-top units in the US.


2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata hardtop (US)

The 2009 MX-5 facelift debuted at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. Major changes concern the restyled front which now incorporates elements from Mazda’s newer models like the larger grille and new head and fog lights. Further restyled elements are the side skirts, rear bumper and the tail lights. The soft top Touring and Grand Touring models feature a mesh grille bordered by a chrome frame. The hardtop Roadster Coupe now features a mesh grille bordered by a chrome frame and chrome elements inside the headlamps and outer door handles.

The instrument panel gained darker features and redesigned graphics for the gauges. To create more leg space in the cabin, a protrusion from the door pockets was eliminated.

The 2.0-litre engine was rated 167 bhp (125 kW; 169 PS) at 7,200 rpm and 140 lb·ft (190 N·m) at 5,000 rpm for manual, 158 bhp (118 kW; 160 PS) at 6,700 rpm and 140 lb·ft (190 N·m) at 5,000 rpm for automatic. Engine redline was raised by 500 rpm to 7,200 rpm in manual model. The suspension and gearbox have been fine-tuned; latter offers smoother shifts and automatic transmission will be introduced in Europe for the first time.

MX-5 Superlight (2009)

The MX-5 Superlight at 2009 IAA.

MX-5 Superlight is a concept car commemorating the 20th anniversary of MX-5, designed at Mazda's studio in Frankfurt, Germany. It is made of lightweight materials to improve performance, handling, fuel economy, and CO2 emissions. It also does not include a windshield.

The vehicle was unveiled in 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show.[12]

The vehicle included a MZR 1.8-litre petrol engine rated 126 PS (93 kW; 124 hp) at 6,500 rpm and 167 N·m (123 lb·ft) at 4,500rpm, 5-speed manual transmission, double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, Bilstein monotube damper, 205/45R17 tires, 300 mm (11.8 in) ventilated front brake discs and 280 mm (11.0 in) solid rear brake discs. The "Superlight" weighs in at 2,200 lb (1,000 kg), making it 100 lb (45 kg). heavier than the original NA series MX-5 .[13]

MX-5 20th Anniversary Edition (2010)

For the 20th birthday of the MX-5 in 2010, Mazda prepared the limited edition 20th Anniversary Model. Only released in Europe, it was available in three of the original colors from its birth year of 1990 - red, blue and crystal white and was produced as a limited run of only 2000 units. Based on the 1.8l soft-top roadster each car was individually numbered, featured a special bodykit adorned with chrome grille, door handles, headlight fascia and fog light surrounds all complemented by bespoke 17-inch alloy wheels.



Model SV Sport Touring Grand Touring
Base 5-speed manual 5-speed manual 6-speed manual 6-speed manual
Optional - 6-speed automatic Sport with Adaptive Shift Logic and paddle shifters


Model GX GS GT
Base 5-speed manual 6-speed manual 6-speed manual
Optional 6-speed automatic 6-speed automatic with lock-up torque converter and paddle shifters


The Euro NCAP Safety Ratings for the MX5 manufactured in 2002 gave 4 out of 5 stars for adult protection but only 1 out of 4 for pedestrian protection. EuroNCAP stated "This is a poor performance despite the MX5 benefiting from not having to have the leading edge of its bonnet tested because of its low profile."

Production numbers and details

  • In 2000, the Guinness Book of World Records declared the MX-5 the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car in history.[1] The 250,000th MX-5 rolled out of the factory on November 9, 1992; the 500,000th, on February 8, 1999; the 750,000th, in March 2004; the 800,000th in January 2007, and 900,000th in February 2011.[2]
Year Production Sales (U.S.) Sales (Global)
1988 12 (pre-production cars)    
1989 45,266 23,052 35,807
1990 95,640 35,944 75,789
1991 63,434 31,240 71,586
1992 52,712 24,964 53,031
1993 44,740 21,588 45,155
1994 39,623 21,400 38,826
1995 31,886 20,174 35,673
1996 33,610 18,408 33,205
1997 27,037 17,218 32,035
1998 58,682 19,845 49,205
1999 44,851 17,738 46,370
2000 47,496 18,299 44,573
2001 38,870 16,486 39,258
2002 40,754 14,392 38,917
2003 30,106 10,920 32,990
2004 24,232 9,356 26,531
2005 29,950 9,801 14,316
2006 48,389 16,897 22,546
2007 15,075
2008 10,977
Total 807,293 373,774 735,813

[citation needed]

Technical specifications

Drivetrain specifications by generation (UK market)[5]
Model year(s) Model no(s). Chassis code(s) Engine type Engine code Transmission(s) Power Torque
1989–1993 1.6i NA 1.6 L inline-4 B6ZE(RS) 5-speed MT 114 bhp (85 kW) @6,500 rpm 100 ft·lbf (140 N·m) @5,500 rpm
1995–1998 1.6i NA 1.6 L inline-4 BP-4W 5-speed MT 88 bhp (66 kW) -
1993–1995 1.8i NA 1.8 L inline-4 BP-4W 5-speed MT 128 bhp (95 kW) @6,500 rpm 110 ft·lbf (150 N·m) @5,000 rpm
1995–1998 1.8i NA 1.8 L inline-4 BP-4W 5-speed MT 133 bhp (99 kW) @6500 rpm -
1998–2001 1.6i NB 1.6 L inline-4 BP-4W 5-speed MT 108 bhp (81 kW) @6,500 rpm 99 ft·lbf (134 N·m) @5,000 rpm
1998–2001 1.8i NB 1.8 L inline-4 BP-4W 5 or 6-speed MT 140 bhp (100 kW) @6,500 rpm 119 ft·lbf (161 N·m) @5,000 rpm
2001–2005 1.6i NB 1.6 L inline-4 BP-4W 5-speed MT 110 bhp (82 kW) @6,500 rpm 99 ft·lbf (134 N·m) @5,000 rpm
2001–2005 1.8i NB 1.8 L inline-4 BP-4W 6-speed MT 146 bhp (109 kW) @6,500 rpm 124 ft·lbf (168 N·m) @5,000 rpm
2006- 1.8i NC 1.8 L inline-4 MZR 14 5-speed MT 126 bhp (94 kW) 123 ft·lbf (167 N·m)
2005- 2.0i NC 2.0 L inline-4 MZR 14 5 or 6-speed MT 167 bhp (125 kW) 140 ft·lbf (190 N·m)
2009- Superlight 1.8i NC 1.8 L inline-4 MZR 14 5-speed MT 124 bhp (92 kW) 123 ft·lbf (167 N·m)

See also

  • Spec Miata, a class of racing cars in the U.S.
  • MaX5 Racing, a class of racing cars in the United Kingdom


  1. ^ a b Mazda MX-5 on Mazda Gabriel
  2. ^ a b "Auto Express 4 February 2011". Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  3. ^ "Reward". Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  4. ^ Clarkson, Jeremy (August 16, 2009). "Mazda MX-5 2.0i Sport Tech". London: The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g You and Your MX5/Miata, Liz Turner 2002, Haynes Publishing, ISBN 1 85960 847 7
  6. ^ "Details on the history of Bob Hall's influence on the design, development and manufacture of the MX-5". 
  7. ^ "Independent 23 April 2006". 2006-04-23. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  9. ^ a b "Official US inflation calculator". 
  10. ^ Garrett, Norman III (1998). Mazda Miata performance handbook. MBI. ISBN 0-7603-0437-8. 
  11. ^ "Mazda MX-5's Performance Statistics as Measured by Car and Driver". Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-02-10. 
  12. ^ Ramsey, Jonathon (2009-08-05). "Super(light) Hero - Mazda bringing bantamweight MX-5 Miata concept to Frankfurt". Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  13. ^ Lavrinc, Damon (2009-09-11). "Mazda MX-5 Superlight leaked ahead of Frankfurt". Retrieved 2011-06-02. 

External links

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