It’s no secret that the original Mazda Miata was an amazing vehicle that brought reliability and the idea of a roadster together. The original Miata, known as the NA because of it’s chassis code, was released in 1989. The NA was revolutionary in offering an affordable sports car that was amazing in the corners, but also reliable thanks to fuel injection, unlike the British sports cars it takes reference from. The NA was praised by everyone, and goes down as one of the most important cars in car culture, ever. So 28 years and four generations later, how does the modern Miata stack up to its ancestors? Does it still offer driver oriented fun in a reliable way? Well I drove one to find out.
The fourth generation Miata is the most current, starting in 2016. This new Miata, referred to as the ND due to its chassis code, comes with aggressive styling and a new engine and transmission. The ND was rebuilt from the ground up by Mazda, to reflect the greatness of the NA. If you’re a big Miata fan, you’ll know that the Miata hit a slump in the mid 2000s, gaining weight while not gaining much power. This made the Miata rather uneventful. Most people don’t even know that the Miata has been sold consistently since 1989, without missing a year. But now, the ND is back to its roots and it really shows.
The first, and most important part of the new Miata, is the weight. Mazda managed to get the weight down to 2,300lbs using the gram theory. The gram theory is the idea of saving a little weight everywhere, to save a lot of weight over all. This is important to the Miata, because power has never been a focus of its design. Even though the ND has the largest engine put in a Miata, it still only puts out 155hp which is barley 50 more than the NA in ’89. That being said, let’s talk about the engine. The ND has a 2.0L skyactive inline four cylinder under the hood. Skyactive is Mazdas version of V-TEC. It’s a way to vary the valve timing so you use less gas while cruising, but gives you more top end power when you put your foot in it. That being said its nothing to brag about, but check off the item of “under-powered engine” on the essentials list for Miatas. The last huge change to the ND is the amount of creature comforts offered. The Miata I drove, a 2016 Grand Touring model, had lane departure warning, parking sensors, a Bluetooth stereo, heated seats, and much much more. Never before have I seen so many options in a two seater convertible sports car.
I found very few issues with the ND Miata, but the biggest is the wind noise on the soft top models. Because you can remove the roof in one motion, the rag top creates noise at higher speeds. This isn’t a huge issue. Think of it like the calories of a cake: yeah it sucks how many calories it has in it but good God do you want another slice. The other issue at first glance is the price, which starts at $25k. Twenty five thousand dollars for a tiny sports car seems steep, but people forget the original NA was $14,000, which is $28,000 in today’s money. So in retrospect, you’re actually getting a bargain.
The ND Miata offers the thrills of the NA Miata, but in the modern day. It’s affordable in today’s market, and also offers a driving experience that has little to no competition in the modern day. If I were looking for a fun driving machine, that is also capable of morning commutes, the ND Miata would be my first option. Every day of the week.