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CATEGORIES (articles) > Donor vehicle information > Mazda > Model run through and history of the Mazda MX-5

Model run through and history of the Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5
Manufacturer: Mazda
1.8 L BPT I4 (Mazdaspeed)|
Engine:1.6 L B6-ZE I4 (Japan)
1.8 L BP-4W I4
1.8 L BP-Z3 I4
1.8 L BPT I4 (Mazdaspeed)

The Mazda MX-5 is a popular sports car built by Mazda in Hiroshima, Japan. It is known as the MX-5 Miata (or popularly just Miata) in North America, where it was one of the few Mazdas to be given a name (a legacy left from the era in which it was first built and most Mazdas were given names). It is known just as the MX-5 in Oceania and Europe and the Eunos Roadster (until 1996) or Roadster (after 1996) in Japan. It was initially unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show on 10 February, 1989. The Miata is one of the world's best-selling sports cars, with 720,407 cars produced and sold between February 1989 and March 31 2005. The Guinness Book of World Records named the Miata the world's best-selling sports car.. Beginning with the third-generation 2006 model, Mazda consolidated worldwide (excluding Japan) marketing using the MX-5 name, though enthusiasts in the U.S.A. (and the company itself) still steadfastly refer to it as a Miata, a name that means "reward" in Old High German. ([1] reward.html)


The Miata was envisioned by its designers as a small roadster with a minimum of unnecessary weight and complexity. The first Miata prototype was built in California, USA and Worthing, England. Many key stylistic cues were clearly inspired by (some say copied from) the Lotus Elan, a 1960s roadster that is widely considered to be one of the best handling sports cars of its day.

The Miata has a traditional front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout and 4-wheel independent double wishbone suspension. It comes with a 1.6 L, 1.8 L, or 2.0 L longitudinally mounted four cylinder engine coupled to a manual transmission. An automatic transmission is available as an option, though rarely selected by buyers.

The body is a conventional, but very light, unibody shell. Miatas also incorporate a unique trusswork called the Powerplant Frame (PPF) which connects the engine to the differential, minimizing flex and creating a tight, responsive feel. Many Miatas feature limited slip differentials and antilock brakes. Traction control is an option available on the third generation MX-5.

With a 50:50 front/rear weight balance (when measured with an average weight driver and a 2/3 full gas tank), the car has very neutral handling, which makes it easy to drive for the beginner, and fun for the advanced driver. Inducing oversteer is easy and very controllable. The Miata is popular in amateur and stock racing events, particularly the Sports Car Club of America's Solo2 autocross and Spec Miata race series.

The Guinness Book of Records recognized the MX-5 Miata as the world's best-selling sports car on February 13 2002, with more than 700,000 sold until that date.

First Generation (NA)

A competition to design a light-weight sports car

The design of the first generation Miata was the result of a competition between Mazda (North America) and the Tokyo Design Studio. The role of designing a front-engine, rear-wheel drive light-weight sports car was assigned to Mazda (North America) whilst the Tokyo Design Studio designed front engined, front-wheel drive and mid-engined, rear-wheel drive cars for the competition.

The first round of judging the competing designs for the MX-5 was held in April 1984. Designs were presented on paper. 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 at the second round of the competition in August 1984, when full scale clay models were presented, that the front-engined rear-wheel drive design, code-named "Duo 101," was selected as the basis for Mazda's new light-weight sports car.

The Duo 101 design, so named as either a soft-top or hard-top could be used, was referred to International Automotive Design in Worthing, England for the construction of a running prototype. The prototype was built with a fiberglass body, a 1.4 L engine from a Mazda Familia and other components from a variety of early Mazda models. The prototype was completed in August 1985 and code-named the V705 by Mazda.

After some minor changes in the design, presented in clay model form by the designers from Mazda (North America), the project was given final approval on 18 January 1986. The project was now code-named P729 by Mazda. The task of constructing five engineering mules was again allocated to International Automotive Design, who also conducted the first front and rear crash tests on the prototype. The project then returned to Japan for final engineering details and production issues to be decided.

The Miata meets the public

Mazda Eunos Roadster(1993) manufactured for japanese market

The Miata was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show on 10 February 1989, with a price tag of US$13,800. The Miata would be available for purchase by the public from July 1989 as a 1990 model. In Japan, the car was not badged as a Mazda, as the company was experimenting with the creation of different brands for deluxe models, similar to Nissan's Infiniti and Toyota's Lexus. Instead, the Mazda MX-5 was called the Eunos Roadster in its own market.


Body and chassis

The body shell of the Miata is all-steel with an aluminium hood. The overall dimensions are: length 3970 mm (156.3 in); width 1675 mm (65.9 in); height 1235 mm (48.6 in); wheelbase 2265 mm (89.2 in). Ground clearance is 140 mm (5.5 in). Without options, the NA model MX-5 weighed 940 kg (2070 lb). The body was reasonably aerodynamic, with a Cd figure of 0.38. An accessory hardtop could be ordered with a new car for winter use or improved security. These are made from a reinforced engineering plastic, and later ones include a heated rear window (defogger). The first hardtops were satin black, but soon became available in the then current paint colors.

Suspension and wheels

The Miata employs independent double wishbone suspension on all four wheels with an 18 mm (0.71 in) anti-roll bar at the front. Four wheel disc brakes of 235 mm (9.3 in) diameter (ventilated) at the front and 231 mm (9.1 in) at the rear stopped 5.5 in (140 mm) wide 14 in (356 mm) alloy wheels with 185/60HR14 radial tires.


The original Miata came with a 1.6 L double overhead cam inline four-cylinder engine, producing 90 kW (120 hp) and 100 ft·lbf (136 N·m) of torque. The engine employs an L-Jetronic fuel injection system and a camshaft angle sensor instead of a distributor. This engine, dubbed B6 by Mazda, was previously used in the 323 series, including the 323 GTX, a turbocharged, all-wheel drive vehicle, and retains the reinforcements and under-piston oil sprays required for aftermarket turbocharging.


Most Miatas, MX-5s and Eunos Roadsters have a 5 speed manual transmission (gearbox). An automatic transmission was available in the US and Japan, but is relatively uncommon; UK cars were never offered with automatic transmissions. The rear differential was a viscous LSD on Japanese and US 1.6 litre cars; the UK MX-5 always had a standard open differential. The viscous LSD gradually wears out and reverts to an open differential by around 60,000 miles.


The first generation Miata could reach 60 mph (96 km/h) in 8.2 seconds and had a top speed of 119 mph (190 km/h).

Generation 1.5 (NA)

1995 M-Edition Miata (Generation 1.5)

The MX-5 Miata was freshened for 1994 with the introduction of a more powerful 1.8 L BP engine, dual airbags in some markets, a geared, torque-sensing limited slip differential in some markets, and other options. The new engine produced 98 kW (130 hp) and the standard model weighed 990 kg (2180 lb). In some markets such as the UK the 1.6 engine continued to be available as a lower-cost option, but was detuned to only 88 hp (66 kW) to make it less competitive with the 1.8 and also to comply with EU-imposed limits for overall CO emissions for each manufacturer. Post-1995 1.8 engines were up in power to 133 hp (99 kW) due to higher compression pistons and a slight leaning of the (notoriously rich) mixture at high rpm.

There were a number of trim levels and special editions available. The standard model was called the "A Package" for the Miata models. A "B Package" added some options, while the "C Package" included a tan interior and top and leather seats. A special "R Package" was introduced 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. This generation was phased out in the 1997 model year, with the final 1500 NA Miatas produced being the "STO" ("Special Touring Option") versions. (These special editions refer to North American markets only.)

A minor change was made to the instruments, with the analog oil pressure gauge being replaced with a "fake" gauge that either reads "low" or "normal". This change, which may have been made for cost reasons or because drivers unfamiliar with the gauge's purpose used to complain that the reading fluctuated, was despised by most enthusiasts and Bob Hall. It is straightforward to fit the pre-1994 sender unit and gauge to a later car.

Japanese and US cars were fitted with a Torsen LSD, which was far more durable than the old viscous differential. UK cars continued to use an open differential on both 1.6 and 1.8 models, although a popular and "bolt on" upgrade to a UK car is to fit the Torsen LSD and halfshafts from a Eunos Roadster.

Colors and Special Editions

1990 Mariner Blue

(In bold, new color)


  • Classic Red, Crystal White, Mariner Blue, Silver Stone Metallic (from March 1990 in USA)
  • Classic Red, Crystal White, Mariner Blue, Silver Stone Metallic
  • British Racing Green Special Edition (4,000 in USA, numbered with badge; also in UK)
  • 24 Hour Le Mans (24 in UK)
  • Brilliant Black, British Racing Green (Europe), Classic Red, Crystal White, Mariner Blue, Silver Stone Metallic, Sunburst Yellow (USA)
  • Brilliant Black Special Edition (Canada)
  • Brilliant Black SE (200 in UK)
  • Sunburst Yellow J-Limited (800 in Japan)

1993 Classic Red


  • Brilliant Black, British Racing Green (Europe), Classic Red, Crystal White, Mariner Blue
  • Brilliant Black with Red Interior Limited Edition (1,505 in USA, numbered)
  • Brilliant Black with Red Interior S-Limited (1,000 in Japan)
  • Brilliant Black SE (150 in UK)
  • Brilliant Black, British Racing Green (Europe), Classic Red, Laguna Blue Metallic, Sunburst Yellow (Europe), White
  • Montego Blue Mica M-Edition (3,003 in USA, also in Europe)
  • Sunburst Yellow J-Limited (800 in Japan)
  • Brilliant Black, British Racing Green (Europe), Classic Red, Laguna Blue Metallic, Montego Blue Mica, White
  • Merlot Mica M-Edition (3,500 in USA)
  • Brilliant Black RS-Limited (500 in Japan)
  • Brilliant Black with Red Interior R-Limited (1,000 in Japan)
  • Montego Blue Mica G-Limited (1,500 in Japan)
  • Montego Blue Mica 'Gleneagles' with Champagne interior (400 in UK)
  • Sunburst Yellow 'California' (300 in UK)
  • Brilliant Black, British Racing Green V-Spec(Europe), Classic Red, Montego Blue Mica, Sunburst Yellow (Europe), White
  • Starlight Mica (blue) M-Edition (USA)
  • Art Vin Red Mica VR-Limited Combination A (700 in Japan)
  • Excellent Green Mica VR-Limited Combination B (800 in Japan)
  • Vin Rouge Mica (same as Merlot Mica) 'Merlot' (600 in UK, also in Europe)
  • British Racing Green 'Monaco' (450 in UK)
1997 (carried on to 1998)
  • Brilliant Black, Classic Red, Montego Blue Mica, Sunburst Yellow (Europe), White
  • Marina Green Mica M-Edition (3,000 in USA)
  • Twilight Blue Mica STO Limited Edition (1,500 in USA, numbered with badge)
  • Twilight Blue Mica 'Dakar' (400 in UK, numbered with badge)
  • British Racing Green 'Monza' (800 in UK)
  • Silver Stone Metallic 'Harvard' with Burgundy seats (500 in UK)
  • Brilliant Black 'Classic' (UK)
  • Excellent Green Mica VR-Special Type B (Japan)
  • Sparkle Green SR-Limited (700 in Japan)
  • Sparkle Green 'Berkeley' (400 in UK, numbered with badge)
(USA sources: Central Oklahoma Miata Club,

Second Generation (NB)

In 1998, Mazda released the updated model year 1999 MX-5 Miata. This model is known as the NB (referring to the model number printed on the VIN plate) or Mark 2. With its introduction, the earlier MX-5 Miata became known as the NA or Mark 1. The NB features a more powerful engine and more modern styling cues borrowed from the aggressive RX-7. A 6-speed manual transmission became available for the top models, though the 5-speed was retained as well. In Japan, the Eunos name was dropped, as the marque was considered a commercial failure, but the successful Roadster was incorporated into the Mazda brand. Prices in the United States, the main market for the Miata, started at US$19,770.

1999 Miata (Generation 2)


Body and chassis

Although many parts of the interior and body were different, the most notable changes were the headlights: the first model's retractable headlights had been exchanged for fixed ones. The new car had grown slightly in width compared to the earlier model with dimensions: length 3955 mm (155.7 in); width 1680 mm (66.1 in); height 1235 mm (48.6 in) and wheelbase 2265 mm (89.2 in). Ground clearance was a slightly reduced 135 mm (5.3 in). With the minimum of options, the NB weighed 1000 kg (2200 lb). The new model was slightly more aerodynamic than the original, with a Cd figure of 0.36. The mid-section of the car is essentially unchanged, hence the hardtop was carried over from the NA model, but uses a different electrical connector for the defogger (adaptors are available). Official Mazda advice is that NA hardtops should not be used on NB cars, and vice-versa because, although the top itself is identical, slight sealing differences may lead to water leaks. In practice many owners find them to be interchangeable.

Suspension and wheels

The second generation Miata continued to employ four-wheel independent suspension, with enlarged anti-roll bars of 22 mm (0.87 in) at the front and 11 mm (0.43 in) at the rear. The wheel, tire and brakes package on the second generation Miata was significantly upgraded. Front brakes were of 255 mm (10 in) diameter with 251 mm (9.9 in) at the rear. ABS was offered as an option. Alloy wheels were now of 14 in (356 mm) or 15 in (381 mm) diameter and 6 in (152 mm) width, depending on the model. Sports models were equipped with the larger wheels and 195/50VR15 tires.


The BP-4W engine remained at 1.8 L 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 VICS system was introduced, which effectively gave a long narrow intake mainfold at low rpm for better swirl, changing to a short, free-flowing manifold at high rpm for maximum breathing. The new intake manifold received a set of flappers that could uncover a resonance chamber - this was needed to fix a dead spot in the torque curve that the new head created. Power output of the new engine is quoted at 105 kW (140 hp) with 119 ft·lbf (161 N·m) of torque.

The 1.6 L B6 engine remained available in some markets, including Japan.


The second generation Miata with the 1.8 L engine could reach 60 mph (96 km/h) in 7.9 seconds and had a top speed of 123 mph (197 km/h).

10th Anniversary Model

Although a number of limited editions had been produced before, this was Mazda's first worldwide limited edition, launched in 1999 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the launch of the MX-5.

This model, nicknamed 10AM (or 10AE for "10th Anniversary Edition" as it was known in Europe), came with until-then exclusive features:

  • exterior color - sapphire blue mica (called innocent blue in Japan)
  • seats in two-toned black leather and blue suede
  • Nardi-branded turning wheel and shifter knob in two-toned black/blue
  • carpets, shift lever boot, soft top and boot cover, all in blue
  • blue door keys (in some markets)
  • Bose sound system (in some markets)
  • 10th Anniversary floor mats (optional in some markets)
  • six-speed transmission (sourced from a third-party supplier)
  • chromed gauge rings
  • carbon-fibre-style center console panel
  • highly-polished alloy wheels
  • sports suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers
  • dome strut, to increase stability in the front end and improve reaction of the steering system, especially on curves
The addition of the sixth gear made this the first special edition to differ technically from production models.

The 10AM did 0-100km in 8.4 seconds, a tenth of a second faster than the 1.8 litre production engine, due to the tighter gear ratios. However, as the 10AM was heavier, its top rated speed was slower, at 203 instead of 205 km/h. Combined consumption was 8.8 instead of 8.5 l/100 km (27 instead of 28 mpg).

7,500 units were produced, which went to:

  • 3,150 - North America, of which:
    • 3,000 - USA
    • 150 - Canada
  • 500 - Japan
  • 3,700 - Europe, of which:
    • 600 - UK
    • 20 - Portugal
  • 150 - Australia.
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 eachcar, 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. Car number 7,500 has recently (August 2006) been sold in England.

Despite the prestige and considerable publicity that Mazda gave to this model, it took more than a year to sell all units (for comparison, there were 3,500 units of the NC's "3rd Generation Limited" launch model in 2005).

Generation 2.5 (NB)

Example of UK Spec Mk2.5 - special edition Euphonic. 1.8i

In 2001, a facelift to the NB was released. There were some minor design changes, with the 18 July 2000 press release announcing the new model describing the changes as "resulting in an even sportier and more forceful look". Some cockpit elements were also changed, with instrument panel gauges having a white face and red numbers. The seats were also upgraded, incorporating more support in the side bolsters, and taller headrests. Added this year for top models were 16 inch (406 mm) wheels with 205/45VR16 low-profile tires and larger brakes — 10.6 in (269 mm) diameter at the front and 10.9 in (277 mm) at the rear. The upgraded tires and suspension allowed the new model to pull 0.88 g in lateral grip in tests by Car and Driver. The body was strengthened, gaining 16% in bending rigidity and 22% in torsional rigidity. With the minimum of options the 2001 model weighed 1065 kg (2350 lb).

The 1.8 L 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 power output of 117 kW (155 hp) for models delivered in Japan and Australia. The same engine produced 110 kW (146 hp) in vehicles sold in the United States and Europe (likely due to more restrictive emission standards). 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 was forced to buy back a number of 2001 cars due to these misleading power claims. Owners who did not take up the buy back offer were offered an apology and free servicing for the warranty period.

32,000 2001 and 2002 model year Miatas were recalled in the USA in December 2005 for excessive emissions.

Mazda MX-5 SP

In 2001 Mazda Australia produced a limited run (100 cars) of turbocharged MX-5s labelled the SP. These were said to be the inspiration for the Mazdaspeed MX-5 however they only had an upgraded intake/turbo and exhaust unlike the Mazdaspeed MX-5 which has a stronger engine, gearbox and diff, with upgraded cooling system, interior and bodykit. Over 215 parts went into upgrading the performance of the SP creating a powerful sportscar that looked identical to a standard MX-5. The driveline, braking, suspension and engine internals remained standard. The upgraded engine was rated at 150 kW (201 hp).

Mazdaspeed MX-5

2004 saw the introduction of the turbocharged Mazdaspeed MX-5. It featured a light-pressure turbo BPT engine for 178 hp (133 kW) rather than the S-VT BP-Z3. Other features included a special suspension, upgraded transmission and clutch assemblies, upgraded drivetrain components, Racing Hart 17 inch wheels, special interior trim, and special exterior paint.

Though not officially a "Limited Edition" production run, only a small number of Mazdaspeed Miatas were produced during model years 2004 and 2005. In 2004, 4000 cars where built and in 2005, 1428. ([2] index.php?topic=933.0) .

Mazda Roadster Coupe

Mazda Engineering and Technology Co. Ltd. (Mazda E&T), a division of Mazda Japan, produced a limited run of 350 Mazda Roadsters for the Japanese market with a permanent fixed 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). A range of models were produced, from a basic 1.6 L version, to heavily restyled boutique models. ([3] 1009e.html) No Roadster Coupes were exported, though an example upgraded to Mazdaspeed specifications was shown to international audiences. ([4] 03sema_miatacoupe/)

Colors and Special Editions

1999 MX-5 models. Left to right: Evolution Orange Mica, Emerald Mica, Sapphire Blue Mica|right

(In bold, new color)


  • Brilliant Black, Classic Red, Emerald Mica (green), Evolution Orange Mica (not in USA, called Copper or Gold in some countries), Highlight Silver Metallic, Twilight Blue Mica, White
  • Sapphire Blue Mica (called Innocent Blue in Japan) 10th Anniversary Model (7,500 worldwide)
  • Classic Red 'Sport' (300 in UK)
  • Twilight Blue Mica 'Sport' (200 in UK)
  • Brilliant Black, Classic Red, Emerald Mica, Evolution Orange Mica (called Copper or Gold in some countries), Highlight Silver Metallic, Twilight Blue Mica, White
  • Mahogany Mica Special Edition (3,000 in USA, also in Europe)
  • Mahogany Mica NR-Limited (500 in Japan)
  • Unique Platinum 'Jasper Conran' with red interior (100 in UK)
  • Brilliant Black Jasper Conran Special Edition (400 in UK)
  • Art Vin Mica 'Icon' (750 in UK, also in New Zealand as Millennium 2000 Special Edition)
  • Sunburst Yellow 'California' (UK)
  • Classic Red Isola Special Edition (500 in UK)
  • Brilliant Black, Classic Red, Crystal Blue Metallic, Emerald Mica, Midnight Blue Mica, Pure White, Sunlight Silver Metallic
  • British Racing Green Special Edition (USA)
  • Brilliant Black YS-Limited (700 in Japan)

2002 MX-5 model. Midnight Blue Mica.


  • Brilliant Black, Classic Red, Crystal Blue Metallic, Emerald Mica, Laser Blue Mica, Midnight Blue Mica, Pure White, Sunlight Silver Metallic, Vivid Yellow
  • Blazing Yellow Mica Special Edition (250 in Canada, also in USA)
  • Blazing Yellow Mica, Sunlight Silver Metallic or Classic Red 'Arizona' (135+135+80 in UK)
  • Brilliant Black or Titanium Gray Metallic 'Phoenix' (1,200 in UK)
  • Brilliant Black 'Trilogy' with black and light-grey interior and silver-and-diamond key ring (333 in UK, numbered with badge)
  • Garnet Red Mica or British Racing Green 'Montana' (250 each in UK)
  • Titanium Gray Metallic Special Edition (USA and Europe)
  • Titanium Gray Metallic MV-Limited (300 in Japan)
  • Laser Blue Mica Lmited (200 in Japan)
  • Brilliant Black, Classic Red, Emerald Mica, Garnet Red Mica, Midnight Blue Mica, Pure White, Splash Green Mica, Sunlight Silver Metallic
  • Eternal Red or Sunlight Silver Metallic 'Angels' (175+325 in UK)
  • Cerion Silver Metallic SG-Limited (400 in Japan)
  • Cerion Silver or Strato Blue Mica 'Nevada' (1350+700 in UK)
  • Cerion Silver Metallic Limited Edition Classic (Europe and Australia)
  • Strato Blue Mica Special Edition (1,500 in USA)
  • Titanium Gray Shinsen Version (1,500 in USA)
  • Classic Red or Pure White Club Sport Package (50 in USA)
  • Garnet Red Mica 'Indiana' (250 in UK)

A 2003 Garnet Red Mica flanked by two 2002 Blazing Yellow Mica.


  • Black Cherry Mica (Radiant Ebony in UK), Brilliant Black, Classic Red, Emerald Mica, Pure White, Strato Blue Mica, Sunlight Silver Metallic
  • Classic Red limited (350 in Japan)
  • Classic Red Roadster Coupe Type A (200 in Japan)
  • Blazing Yellow Roadster Coupe Type B (150 in Japan)
  • Titanium Gray or Velocity Red Mazdaspeed (USA)
  • Brilliant Black, Titanium Gray Metallic, Velocity Red or Sunlight Silver Metallic 'Euphonic' (2000 in UK)
  • Black Cherry Mica, Classic Red, Nordic Green Mica, Razor Blue Metallic, Sunlight Silver Metallic
  • Black Mica, Lava Orange, Titanium Gray or Velocity Red Mazdaspeed (USA)
  • Razor Blue Metallic, Titanium Gray Metallic or Sunlight Silver Metallic 'Arctic' with blue seats and blue soft top (2,000 in UK)
  • Black Mica, Chili Orange (same as Lava Orange), Titanium Gray Metallic or Sunlight Silver Metallic 'Icon' (UK)
(USA sources: Central Oklahoma Miata Club,, Miatas in America)

(UK source: Bourne Road Garage)

Third Generation (NC)


Production of the 3rd generation Mazda MX-5 (NC) began May 17 2005, for delivery in August, for the 2006 model year.

Despite apparent similarities, the 3rd generation shares no structural components with the RX-8; it also shares no components with the 2nd generation (NB), except for the side-panel turning-lights (European models). The chassis was developed specifically for the new MX-5. Suspension was changed from a 4-wheel double-wishbone setup to a front wishbone rear multilink setup and technologies like traction control and stability control were added to increase drivability.

The styling harkens back to the original design while adopting a clean, more muscular profile reminiscent of the Audi TT. Some design elements have been adopted to reinforce the family relationship with the RX-8. Unlike the NA to NB update, which was mostly a nose/tail/interior change, there are substantial differences in every body panel, so current accessories will not work with the new design.

A Car and Driver test revealed a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of 6.5 seconds for the NC.

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 USA), delivered in advance of standard models.

USA Specifications

Engine: Mazda's 16-valve, 2.0 l MZR I4 engine, producing 170 hp (128 kW) and 140 ft·lbf (190 N·m).

Despite the engine upgrade, impressive engineering allows the car to maintain an almost 50-50 perfect weight distribution. 5-speed and 6-speed manual transmissions are offered as well as a 6-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

Europe Specifications

Two engines are offered:

  • Mazda's 16-valve, 2.0 MZR (1999 cc) I4 engine, producing 160 hp (118 kW) and 188 N·m, coupled to a 6-speed manual transmission
  • Mazda's 16-valve, 1.8 MZR (1798 cc) I4 engine, producing 126 hp (93 kW) and 167 N·m, coupled to a 5-speed manual transmission

MX-5 Roadster Coupe (Power Retractable Hard Top)

On 18 July 2006, Mazda unveiled a coupé convertible version of the MX-5 with a three-piece folding hard top. The British International Motor Show was the venue chosen for the world premiere of the new model, named MX-5 Roadster Coupe in Europe, Roadster Power Retractable Hard Top in Japan, and MX-5 Miata Power Retractable Hard Top in the USA.

Adding 37 kg/82 pounds to the weight of a comparable model with soft top, the hard top takes 12 seconds to raise or lower; in a departure from the competition, it does not take any of the existing trunk space when folded down.

The price premium is expected to be less than the cost of a separate hard top.

Colors and Special Editions

2006 Winning Blue

(In bold, new color)


  • Brilliant Black, Copper Red, Galaxy Gray, Marble White, Nordic Green (not Japan), Sunlight Silver Metallic, True Red, Winning Blue
  • Velocity Red or Brilliant Black 3rd-Generation Limited (3,500 worldwide, of which 750 in USA, 300 in UK, 500 in Japan)
  • Brilliant Black with Red Interior special edition (Japan)
  • Copper Red special edition (Japan)
  • Brilliant Black, Copper Red, Galaxy Gray, Highland Green, Marble White, Stormy Blue Metallic, Sunlight Silver, True Red
(USA sources: Central Oklahoma Miata Club,


The Miata has won over 150 awards in its history (source: Mazda promotional literature). Some of them:

  • Car and Driver magazine's annual Ten Best list seven times: The NA from its introduction in 1990 through 1992; the NB on its introduction in 1998 as well as 1999 and 2001; and the NC on its introduction in 2006. The NA was also Wheels Magazines Car of the Year for 1989 with the NC taking the award for 2005.
  • In the November 2004 edition of Sports Car International magazine, the Miata was chosen as the best sports car of the 1990s. In the March 2005 edition of the same magazine, the six-decade countdown culminated in the "Ten Best Sports Cars of All Time" issue, of which the Miata secured the number 10 spot, bested only by the likes of exotics and otherwise unobtainable icons of automotive history.
  • The NC was named the 2005-2006 Car of the Year Japan and also the Australian Car of the Year.

Dropping the Miata Brand

Mazda is believed to have been approached for trademark infringement by Japanese bicycle manufacturer Miyata. Although public details have never surfaced regarding the possible litigation, it is known that Mazda North America has in the past denied authorization to third parties wanting to use the Miata logo, informally acknowledging the company did not have the rights to dispose of the brand. Thus, an agreement might have been reached for Mazda North America to drop the Miata brand on a set date, which would have coincided with the launch of the NC.


Production figures from official Mazda records:
198812 (pre-production models)

Production Numbers

For a breakdown of the numbers to the right, per color and per option package, see Mazda MX-5 Miata FAQ.

Manufacturing Milestones

  • The 250,000th MX-5 rolled out of the factory on November 9 1992
  • The 500,000th, on February 8 1999
  • The 750,000th, on March 2004

Color Curiosities

  • From 1990 to 2006, the MX-5 left the factory in 47 different exterior paint colors. Combinations with soft top colors, interior colors and wheels would take this number into the hundreds.
  • Of those 47 colors, 17 were used exclusively in standard models, 18 were used exclusively in special editions, and 12 were used in standard models and special editions.
  • Those 47 colors are grouped in tones of blue (12), followed by red (9), green and gray/silver (7 each), white (4), yellow and black (3 each), and orange (2).
  • In late 1990, six experimental colors were applied at the factory for market test purposes in the USA. They were (unofficial names): Raspberry Metallic, Electric Blue Metallic, Pale Yellow Metallic, Teal Green Metallic, Ice Green Metallic, and Orange. All six colors were coded "X". One car of each was produced, although some report two Orange. The cars were subsequently sold to insiders of Mazda North America.
  • In 1991, the 24-Hour Le Mans special edition was available in the UK, with a chequered green/orange paintwork identical to the one of the Mazda 787B GT that had won the 24 Hour race that year. (This color scheme has not been included in the count above.) Only 24 cars were made available, making this the rarest special edition. Due to the unusual paint scheme, at least 3 cars were repainted, one before even leaving the dealer.
  • At one time in the mid-90's, an individual in the USA was collecting one of each color or special edition, and had spent over 500,000 dollars in the process with 20+ cars.
  • The four debut exterior colors (red, white, blue, silver) have been standard every year, albeit in varying tones. However, for 2007 white is indicated as being dropped, thus breaking this tradition.
  • One of the most popular colors, black, was introduced in 1992 only.
  • 1991, 1993, 1995 thru 1997/98, and 2000 were years when no new standard colors were introduced, although there were new colors for special editions in some of those years.
  • From 1993 to 1998 (six years), only two new standard colors were introduced, both in 1994. They were Laguna Blue Metallic and White (a new shade).

In Popular Culture

  • Cars - Secondary characters Mia and Tia (a play on the name Miata) a pair of NASCAR fans are animated Miatas.
  • Go - A character in this early Katie Holmes-starring film is murdered and their body is stashed in the trunk of a Sunburst Yellow 1992 Miata.
  • The Benchwarmers - One of the main character's bat flys out of his hands and goes through the windshield of a Miata parked nearby. A player on the opposing team yells, "That's my Miata!," and the team beats up the Miata-owner.
  • Need For Speed Underground and Need For Speed Underground 2 - In these video games, you can buy and upgrade Miatas.
  • Gran Turismo Series - In this videogame you can buy and upgrade most Miata models.
  • Juiced - In this video game, you can buy and upgrade Miatas.
  • Forza - Another videogame featuring buying and upgrading the Miata.
  • Yes, Dear - Greg buys a Miata, which many think is for Kim, but he says that he bought it for himself. Jimmy tells him that he made a bad choice, and that the Miata is a "chick car", but he ignores him. Later, while he is driving the Miata, a young girl tells him how his car is nice, and how it looks like her Barbie's, and the radio breaks, causing it to play Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper at a very loud volume.
  • Sister Sister - Tia and Tamara Mowry have a red miata that their parents purchased for them.
  • Super Troopers - Early in the film there is a car chase involving a "Miata", which turns out to be driven by MacIntyre 'Mac' Womack, another officer playing a practical joke.
  • Lawrence Sanders' "McNally" series of books - Archy McNally has a vintage ('90) red Miata, which he mentions at least a few times in each of his stories. While it is not a critical plot factor in any, it remains consistent with his character's focus on maintaining "fun" while being creative and effective (the Miata is as reliable as it is pleasurable).
  • Corky Romano (in the comedy film of the same name) drives an orange Miata.
  • Spec Miata - The fastest growing road racing class in North America.

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