Uncovering The Top Mazda Miata Years: Best And Worst

The best year for the mazda miata was 1994 while the worst year was 2001. first introduced in 1989, the mazda miata has become a popular sports car among enthusiasts. Over the years, the miata has undergone several changes and updates in design and performance.

While the car has a reputation for being reliable, there are certain years that stand out as better or worse than others. According to enthusiasts, the best year for the miata is 1994 when the car received a major update to its engine and suspension.

On the other hand, the worst year for the miata is commonly regarded as 2001 due to engine defects and electrical flaws that affected the car’s performance and safety. Understanding which years to avoid and which to target can help potential buyers make a more informed decision about this iconic sports car.

Uncovering The Top Mazda Miata Years: Best And Worst

Credit: www.jdpower.com

Table of Contents

First Generation: 1989-1997

Overview Of The First Generation Miata

The mazda miata is a car that has been popular among driving enthusiasts for decades. The first generation of the miata was introduced in 1989 and it quickly became a fan favorite. The first-gen miata was designed to be a fun, lightweight, and affordable sports car that was ideal for daily driving and autocross.

This generation was produced from 1989 until 1997 and it featured several different model years that each had their strengths and weaknesses.

Best And Worst Model Years Within This Generation

While the first-gen miata was a popular car, some model years were better than others. The following is a breakdown of the best and worst model years within this generation:

Best Model Years

  • 1994: This year’s model had more power, thanks to a larger engine and better suspension.
  • 1996: The 1996 miata featured some cosmetic enhancements and an increase in power.

Worst Model Years

  • 1990: This year’s model had a weak engine and was prone to overheating.
  • 1991: The 1991 model featured a poorly designed clutch that was prone to slipping.

Comparison Of Engine Options And Transmission Choices

The first-gen miata featured two engine options and two transmission choices. The engine options were a 1. 6-liter and a 1. 8-liter, both four-cylinder, and the transmission choices were either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Here is a breakdown of each:

Engine Options

  • 1.6-liter: This engine was available in all model years of the first-gen miata. It had 115 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque.
  • 1.8-liter: This engine was available in 1994 and later model years. It had 128 horsepower and 110 pound-feet of torque.

Transmission Choices

  • Five-speed manual: The manual transmission was the preferred choice by most driving enthusiasts. It was snappy and responsive, making shifting gears a joy.
  • Four-speed automatic: The automatic transmission was not well-regarded by drivers, as it was sluggish and shifted slowly.

Common Issues To Be Aware Of When Purchasing A First-Gen Miata

If you’re considering purchasing a first-gen miata, there are a few common issues that you should be aware of:

  • Rust: The first-gen miatas are prone to rust, so it’s important to inspect the car thoroughly before purchasing.
  • Timing belt: The timing belt is a wear item that needs to be replaced regularly. If it hasn’t been replaced recently, you should factor in the cost of replacement into your purchase decision.
  • Suspension bushings: The miata’s suspension bushings are known to wear out and become squeaky. Factor in the cost of replacement into your purchase decision.
  • Difficult-to-find parts: Some parts for the first-gen miata can be difficult to find, so it’s important to know where to look to get the parts you need.

Second Generation: 1999-2005

Overview Of The Second Generation Miata

The second generation mazda miata, also known as the nb, was produced from 1999 to 2005. It was designed to be more robust and rigid than its predecessor, the first-gen miata. The nb was praised for its improved handling, unique styling, and added comfort.

The cabin was more spacious than its predecessor, and it came with updated features, such as power windows, central locking, and a cd player.

Best And Worst Model Years Within This Generation

The miata nb had several model years, but some are considered better than others. According to experts, the 2001 and 2002 model years are the best, with consistent reviews for high reliability, safety, fuel efficiency, and improved handling. On the other hand, the 1999 and 2000 models had several issues that made them the least favorite years of the nb miata.

Some of the issues included clutch and transmission failures, and engine problems.

Changes And Upgrades Made To The Second-Gen Miata

The second-gen miata nb received many upgrades compared to its predecessor. Some significant changes include:

  • A stronger and more rigid body structure
  • Improved aerodynamics and suspension tuning
  • A five-speed manual transmission was standard and a 4-speed automatic was an option
  • A more potent 1.8-liter engine with variable valve timing
  • Standard anti-lock brakes (abs) and improved safety features

Comparison Of Engine Options And Transmission Choices

The 1999 to 2005 mazda miata came with only one engine option; a 1. 8-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produced 140 horsepower. The engine was equipped with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic transmission. The manual transmissions are well-regarded for their smoothness and reliability.

In contrast, the 4-speed automatic is notorious for being prone to failure and providing a dull driving experience.

Common Issues To Be Aware Of When Purchasing A Second-Gen Miata

Although the second-gen miata has been praised for its reliability and durability, there are a few issues that potential buyers should be aware of before making their purchase. These issues include:

  • Rust problems in the rear wheel wells and the underbody of the car
  • Soft tops that are prone to leaks and tearing
  • Catalytic converter failure leading to a check engine light
  • Suspension bushing wear leading to noise and poor handling

Overall, the second generation mazda miata nb is a great car built on top of the success of its predecessor. Although some model years had issues, with proper maintenance, the nb miata is a joy to drive and a pleasure to own.

Third Generation: 2006-2015

Overview Of The Third Generation Miata

The third-generation mazda miata, also known as the mx-5 nc, was produced from 2006 to 2015. It was a car that continued the timeless design and driving fun of its predecessors, while also adopting the modern technology and features required by the market.

Here are some notable features of the third-gen miata:

  • The body was slightly larger to enhance comfort and safety, but the weight was kept under control.
  • The exterior styling was more voluptuous and aerodynamic, with a rising beltline and a swage line that extended from the front to the rear.
  • The interior design was more upscale and ergonomic, with a driver-centric dashboard and better noise insulation.
  • The suspension was tuned for improved ride quality and stability, while retaining the nimble handling and rear-wheel-drive layout that made the miata famous.
  • The convertible top was easier to operate and had a glass rear window with a defroster, or a retractable hardtop was available as an option.

Best And Worst Model Years Within This Generation

Although the third-generation miata was generally well-received by critics and owners, some model years were better than others. Here are the best and worst model years within this generation:

  • Best model year: 2008. This year saw the introduction of the power-retractable hardtop (prht), which added convenience and security to the convertible experience. The 2008 miata also had the revised suspension and steering from the 2009 refresh, but without the bulkier front fascia or the electronic stability control that some purists disliked.
  • Worst model year: 2006. This year was the debut of the third-gen miata, and it had some teething issues that affected its reliability and performance. The engine was less powerful (166 hp) and less rev-happy than the previous generation, and it had a tendency to overheat or consume oil. The manual transmission had a notchy shift feel, and the interior had some cheap plastic parts.

Changes And Upgrades Made To The Third-Gen Miata

Over the course of its production run, the third-generation mazda miata received several changes and upgrades that improved its value and appeal. Here are some of them:

  • 2007: The grand touring trim level added leather seats, bose audio, and stability control as standard features.
  • 2009: The miata received a facelift that included a new front bumper, grille, and headlights, as well as re-tuned suspension and steering for sharper handling. The models with automatic transmission also got paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
  • 2010: The touring and grand touring trims received an optional suspension package that included a limited-slip differential, sport-tuned suspension, and bilstein shock absorbers.
  • 2013: The club trim level was introduced, which had a sportier suspension, front and rear spoilers, and gunmetal-colored wheels. It also had cloth seats with red accents and a bose audio system with headrest speakers.
  • 2015: The 25th anniversary edition was released as a limited edition model, with additional features like soul red metallic paint, black leather upholstery with red stitching, alcantara accents, and 17-inch gunmetal wheels.

Comparison Of Engine Options And Transmission Choices

The third-generation mazda miata had only one engine option, which was a 2. 0-liter inline-four cylinder with variable valve timing that produced 170 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque. This engine could be paired with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed manual transmission (grand touring only), or a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters (touring and grand touring).

Here is a summary of the pros and cons of each transmission option:

  • 5-speed manual: Offers a sporty and engaging shift feel, but can feel somewhat jerky or buzzy at low speeds or on the highway. It has a shorter final drive ratio than the 6-speed manual, so it may rev higher and use more fuel.
  • 6-speed manual: Has a smoother and more precise shift feel than the 5-speed manual, and offers better highway fuel economy and cruising comfort. However, it has a taller final drive ratio than the 5-speed manual, so it may feel less responsive in low-speed driving or acceleration.
  • 6-speed automatic: Provides convenience and ease of use, especially with the paddle shifters that allow manual control. It also has a taller final drive ratio than the manual transmissions, which translates to better fuel economy and less engine noise. However, it is slower and less engaging than the manual transmissions, and may not be as reliable in the long run.

Factors To Consider When Buying A Used Third-Gen Miata

If you’re in the market for a used third-generation mazda miata, there are several factors that you should consider to ensure that you get the best value and enjoyment from your purchase. Here are some tips:

  • Check the maintenance records: Look for a miata that has been well-maintained and serviced regularly, especially when it comes to oil changes, cooling system, brakes, and suspension. Beware of any modification or aftermarket parts that may compromise the reliability or safety of the car.
  • Inspect for rust and damage: Look for any signs of rust or corrosion on the body, frame, or suspension components, as well as any evidence of collision or wear and tear. A clean and scratch-free miata may not necessarily be a good thing, as it could indicate that the car has been repainted or covered up.
  • Test drive the car: Take the miata for a spin and test its handling, acceleration, and braking in a variety of conditions, including city traffic, highway cruising, and twisty roads. Listen for any unusual noise or vibration, and pay attention to the clutch feel, shifter action, and pedal response. Try to evaluate the condition of the convertible top or the retractable hardtop, as well as any other features that are important to you, such as the audio system or the seat comfort.
  • Consider the price and availability: Do some research on the market value of the miata you’re interested in, and compare it to similar models or other cars in the same class. Be prepared to negotiate with the seller or the dealer, but also be realistic about your budget and your standards. Keep in mind that some variants or colors of the third-gen miata may be rarer or more desirable than others, so they may command a higher price or require a longer wait.

Fourth Generation: 2016-Present

Overview Of The Fourth Generation Miata

The fourth generation mazda miata has been in production since 2016 and has continued to impress sports car enthusiasts worldwide. The miata’s fourth generation, also known as nd, is the most refined and advanced model year yet, featuring a sleek design, superior handling, and exceptional engine power.

Best And Worst Model Years Within This Generation

Not all model years within this generation are created equal. Here are the best and worst model years for the fourth generation mazda miata:

  • Best: The 2019 model year is the most refined of all fourth-gen miata models. The addition of the updated engine, more driver-focused options, and improved interior refinements made this year a standout.
  • Worst: The 2016 model year was the first of the fourth generation and had some issues with the transmission, resulting in recalls and repairs.

Changes And Upgrades Made To The Fourth-Gen Miata

The fourth-gen miata received some significant upgrades that set it apart from its predecessors. Here are the most notable changes and upgrades:

  • Design: The fourth-gen miata features a more edgy and aggressive design than previous models, making it look more modern and sporty.
  • Improved handling: The fourth-gen miata has a newly-tuned suspension that gives drivers more confidence behind the wheel.
  • Engine: Mazda completely redesigned the engine for the fourth-gen miata, giving it more horsepower and better fuel efficiency. The engine has been updated even further in the 2019 model year.
  • Technology: The fourth-gen miata is equipped with the latest technology, including a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, and the mazda connect infotainment system.

Comparison Of Engine Options And Transmission Choices

The fourth-gen miata comes with two engine options and two transmission choices:

  • Engine options: The base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 181 horsepower, while the more powerful engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 250 horsepower.
  • Transmission choices: Drivers can choose from either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, both of which provide a sporty and engaging driving experience.

Pros And Cons Of Buying A New Vs Used Fourth-Gen Miata

Before making a purchase, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of buying a new or used fourth-gen miata:

New fourth-gen miata pros:

  • Comes with a full warranty
  • No previous wear and tear
  • Latest technology and safety features

New fourth-gen miata cons:

  • Higher purchase price
  • Minimal room for negotiating price

Used fourth-gen miata pros:

  • Lower purchase price than a new model
  • Potential for additional features added by the previous owner

Used fourth-gen miata cons:

  • Previous wear and tear
  • May not have the latest technology and safety features
  • No warranty unless bought through a certified pre-owned program.

Frequently Asked Questions For Best And Worst Years For The Mazda Miata

What Are The Best Years For The Mazda Miata?

The best years for mazda miata are 1990, 1994, 1999, 2006, and 2019.

What Makes The 1990 Mazda Miata Special?

The 1990 mazda miata’s simplicity, affordability, and pure driving appeal make it special.

Is A 2006 Mazda Miata A Reliable Car?

Yes, the 2006 mazda miata is a reliable car known for its longevity.

What Engine Is In A 2019 Mazda Miata?

The 2019 mazda miata has a 2. 0-liter skyactiv four-cylinder engine.

What Is The Worst Year For The Mazda Miata?

The worst year for mazda miata is 2008 because it has the most reported problems.

How Long Do Mazda Miatas Last?

Mazda miatas can last up to 200,000 miles or more with proper maintenance.

What Is The Current Price Of A Mazda Miata?

The current price of a mazda miata starts at $26,625 for the 2021 model year.


The mazda miata has been around for over three decades, and as expected, it has had its fair share of ups and downs. From its debut in 1989, the miata has undergone significant improvements over the years, with some models standing out as the best and others being forgettable.

The best years for the mazda miata were in the late 90s and early 2000s, with the 1999 model year and the 2001-2005 model years receiving the highest ratings for performance, reliability, and overall driving satisfaction. While the miata has had some not-so-great years, it still remains a popular and dependable sports car among driving enthusiasts.

When considering purchasing a mazda miata, make sure to do your research and consider the specific model year’s pros and cons. As such, the miata proves to be a car that can withstand the test of time and remain a classic favorite for many years to come.