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Eli Harris
Eli Harris

Best Mx5 Model To Buy [2021]

The Mazda MX-5 Miata has been around since 1989 (1990 model year in the U.S.) and has gone through four generations. So that inevitably leaves the question at the top of this post, "What's the best Miata?" Well, we do have an answer, but it can be a bit more complicated depending on what you're looking for. So take a look below to find you perfect roadster companion.

best mx5 model to buy

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If you've read our past coverage, you may have seen this coming. The fourth-generation Miata does every Miata thing better than any prior. We'll specifically call out the more powerful refreshed version (sometimes referred to as ND2). With 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque, it makes more power than any Miata prior thanks to extra revs (among other upgrades). It weighs less than its predecessor and barely more than the second-generation, despite having modern safety features and technology. Speaking of which, it has the best technology of any Miata with things like CarPlay (though, that's not a huge achievement if we're honest). It's even the most efficient, and there's the Miata RF retractable roof model for people who want a coupe shape or a little more isolation from the elements. But if you do decide to get a Mazda MX-5 Miata RF, our suggestion is to opt for the manual transmission instead of the optional automatic.

A close runner-up to the 2019 MX-5 is the pre-refresh model from 2016 to 2018. What knocks it down a peg is that it doesn't have as rev-happy of an engine, and peak power is down at 155 ponies. But the good news is that most everything else is just as good. And even the engine is basically as powerful as the updated one until it hits its lower redline. As such, you're not missing out on much. But if you can, the 2019 and later ND does bring a little more to the table.

One of the highlights of the NC is simply the space. It's the biggest (and heaviest) Miata, and that means it has far and away the most interior space. If you're a large or tall person, the best odds of fitting in a Miata is with the NC. It also has the most cargo space at 5.3 cubic feet.

And while it is the heaviest, it's not really heavy. None of them weighed more than about 2,600 pounds. And until the 2019 Miata, the NC was the most powerful naturally aspirated model with around 160 horsepower, depending on year and transmission. That engine is still happy to rev, and the transmission is superb, arguably even better than the one in the ND.

The reality of the situation is that there are basically no bad Miatas. They're all really fun. The best one is whichever one you can get in reasonable condition for a reasonable price. Probably the most affordable Miatas right now are second-generation NB cars and early NC models. The NB is a highly appealing car since it's very closely related to the original model, but features a little more power, a little more cargo and passenger space, and a stiffer chassis. And while it doesn't have lovable pop-up headlights, it does get more space under the hood and no cranky headlight mechanisms. The NB was also available with the one-and-only factory turbocharged Miata variant, the Mazdaspeed Miata. If you can find a good one of those, absolutely buy one.

The NA of course is a favorite of many Miata buyers because of those aforementioned lights. It's also the lightest model, and well, you never forget the first. Ideally, you'll want one of the 1994-1997 models, which got the more powerful and more easily modified 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. But the 1.6 will still be fun, and it can be easily replaced with the later 1.8.

Also, the Miata is a great starting point if you're looking to modify a car. There's a massive aftermarket for sprucing up the appearance, sound and performance of the little roadster. There are turbo and supercharger kits for every generation, so you can get more power in exactly the way you want. The engines take kindly to the extra power, as do the drivetrains, so you're unlikely to seriously break anything unless you're doing some really custom stuff. And if you do break anything, parts are cheap and easily available. Your author can truly can speak to this, since he has a supercharged NB parked away in his garage. So the best Miata is the one that you can put in your garage and make your own.

Being a more recent model, buyers can buy a low mileage for a reasonable price. According to, the average list price for a used 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata ranges from $19,970 to $35,434. The 2019 Miata is available in three trim levels: Sport, Club, and Grand Touring.

The fourth-generation Miata is already known for its ergonomic driving position. With the 2019 model, the Miata gains a telescoping steering wheel which adds a little bit of weight to the roadster. However, the weight gain is more than worth it as it enables drivers to fine-tune their driving position, especially taller drivers.

If you want an earlier best year for Mazda Miata, the 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata 20th Anniversary Edition is worth checking out. With this limited edition Anniversary model, you get 10-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, chrome accents, and anniversary badging.

When you shop for a new or used car, CoPilot helps you know more. We search every car at every dealer so you don't have to, we give you data and insights you won't find anywhere else, and we rank every car so it's easy to find the best car at the best price.

Launched at Geneva International Motor Show in 2005, the third generation MX-5 (NC) featured a 2.0-liter engine for the first time. A year later, a retractable hardtop model was added to the lineup. It was designed to make the pleasures of open-top driving accessible to a wider audience and was a hit with fans around the world.

The latest iteration of the MX-5, the fourth generation (ND), was unveiled in the United States in September 2014. Production of the model reached one million units almost exactly twenty-seven years to the day after the first ever MX-5 rolled off the assembly line.

The MX-5 is easily the world's best-selling two-seat roadster, with over a million new ones bought since they breezily bounced onto the market in 1989, and it's not hard to see why. It took the idea of a small, fun to drive roadster that had been conceived but imperfectly executed in the Austin Healey Sprite and the Lotus Elan and added two key ingredients: reliability and low running costs.

Our spec table is for the entry level 1.5 as it's arguably the purest model if you subscribe to the notion that the MX-5 is a dish best served without too many trimmings. A year after it came out, however, while the MX-5 was being voted World Car of the Year, Mazda complicated things by releasing the steel-roofed RF (Retractable Fastback) model. To be pedantic, the MX-5 RF should really have been a MX-5 T as it was a targa. The rear buttresses were fixed, with just the top panel folding away.

As standard, the 2020 1.5 R-Sport on lighter 16in Rays forged alloys offered perhaps the best all-round mix of delicacy, comfort and playfulness, with less of the crashiness evident in the heavier 17in wheeled 2.0. In its favour, the 2.0's LSD indulged the driver who didn't want excess power to be simply spun away via a lightly-loaded rear wheel, though there can be a fair bit of drivetrain backlash on gearchanges with the LSD cars.

At the end of 2016 you could get a 1.5 Arctic in the blue with silver highlights livery that was traditional for that model. Arctics had auto lights and wipers, rear parking sensors and heated leather seats and there were 400 of them. In late 2017 a 300-off Sport Nav-based Z-Sport came out in the Machine Grey paint that had previously been restricted to the RF. Its soft top was in red and its leather seats were beige.

Sport: This is the base model of the MX-5 range, available only as a soft top. If you want a simple little roadster, this is the car for you. The Sport is the no-frills approach to motoring, equipped with 16-inch wheels and a black cloth interior. The 2016 and 2017 Sport models also made do with a simpler digital display, as opposed to the upmarket 7-inch touchscreen that became standard on 2018 models.

Club: Aimed for the hardcore enthusiast, the Club model adds a few more bells and whistles, such as an upgraded Bose audio system and 17-inch wheels. For most drivers, the Club model was a step up in performance when equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission. This allowed the Miata to be outfitted with a limited slip differential, Bilstein shocks, and extra chassis bracing.

Sport trims are usually the more affordable of the bunch, while Club and Grand Touring Models will tack on a couple thousand bucks thanks to their extra standard equipment. RF models are also quite popular due to their convenience, and often command a premium over their soft top counterparts.

While the different roof types make each coupe unique, the 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata and 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF are basically the same models with the same underpinnings and universal features throughout.

You can check out the 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata and the 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF in our online inventory, or schedule a test drive and take it for a spin to see which one suits your lifestyle better. Otherwise, you can visit the Turnersville Mazda dealership in Turnersville, NJ to see the 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata in person, take a test drive and decide which one best suits your lifestyle and budget.

Advantages: Despite the smallest restrictor in the class, a top built 99 has potential to make the most horsepower of all years. That plus the aerodynamic advantage means they bias towards being the best option for long tracks like Road America, Watkins Glen, etc.

Mazda says KPC is meant to help reduce body roll, although there's still plenty of it in my experience. But that's not a bad thing. Cars that eliminate every inch of movement in spirited driving feel far too capable for most roads and most drivers, leading to the feeling that you'll never get every inch of performance out of the thing. The Miata bypasses that issue by letting the body pitch and roll under braking and while cornering; not only does this better communicate when the car is reaching its limits, it makes those limits feel far more approachable at speeds that won't earn you a ticket. The steering is direct and just the right amount of lively, and even though this Grand Touring model may lack the Club's optional Brembo brakes, it will still stop in a drama-free hurry. 041b061a72


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