Mazda Miata 2024
by Ric Green

The Mazda Miata made a big splash when it first hit the showroom with the 1990 model after debuting on February 10, 1989, at the Chicago Auto Show. The two-seat convertible MX5 as it is known was powered by a 1.6 liter four-cylinder engine that produced 116 horsepower through its rear wheel drive and was an instant success with a look that shared a striking resemblance to the design of the Japanese built Lotus Elan.

It was offered in three colors initially: Classic Red, Crystal White, and Superman Blue. Later in the 1990 model year, Mazda introduced Silver Stone Metallic, a color that today is sought by collectors.

With its popup headlights, the smiling Japanese model offered only with the five-speed manual had a base price of $14,000. That price made it less expensive than a four-cylinder Ford Mustang convertible at the time.

Today the fourth-generation 2024 Miata stays true to Mazda’s original formula of a lightweight, rear-wheel-drive roadster. With 155 hp from the 2.0-liter four may not sound impressive, but the Miata feels like a racer from the driver’s low-profile position when moving nimbly through the streets while returning a miserly 34 mpg overall.

Shifting the delightfully accurate six-speed manual is a “joy,” the term used by Car and Driver when first describing the 1990 model. While there is an Automatic Transmission that is optional, I highly recommend avoiding the “buzz kill” automatic, though it works as promised.

The quick and precise steering adds to the fun and delivers sublime back-road handling, even though a bit of body roll is noticeable. Elevated levels of noise, light weight and unsupportive seats add to the feel of a stiff ride; feeling the road can be trying on the body after a long ride.

The two-seat capsule space is snug, and an optional dial-controlled infotainment system is a bit confusing but can be mastered after a while behind the wheel. Today the snug convertible top is automatic and is a breeze to operate. The retractable-roof RF coupe replaces the retractable hardtop roadster design and does produce the expected wind noise you expect from the open-air option. In 2019, horsepower jumped from 155 to 181. In 2020, Mazda changes included suspension updates, and standard forward collision warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic warning, and lane departure warning on all trim lines. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay was added as well.

The history of the Miata resonates as a legend today with more of them on racetracks than any other model.

The 2024 models come in different flavors. The Sport model at $28,985 comes with the 181-hp, SKYACTIV®-G2 2.0 DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT SKYACTIV®-MT 6-speed manual transmission with short-throw shifter. A downside is it only comes in two colors, Jet Black Mica and Soul Red Crystal Metallic.

The Club model starts at $32,485 and comes with a Bose® 9-speaker audio system with Audio Pilot, driver’s and passenger’s headrest speakers and subwoofer, in addition to Asymmetric, torque-sensing limited-slip differential. It is available in six colors, Soul Red Crystal Metallic, Snowflake White Pearl Mica, Aero Gray, Jet Black Mica, Zircon Sand Metallic and Deep Crystal Blue Mica.

The Grand Touring Model starts at $34,285 and has a list of options including 6-speed Sport automatic transmission with paddle shifters, 4-wheel independent (AT models), and Sport-tuned, 4-wheel independent (MT models). Colors are Soul Red Crystal Metallic, Snowflake White Pearl Mica, Aero Gray, Jet Black Mica, Zircon Sand Metallic and Machine Gray Metallic.

If you enjoy the feeling of a ride with a race car heritage and history of exciting performance at a good price, visit Mazda and check out the 2024 Miata.