In 1989, Mazda unveiled the MX-5 at the Chicago Auto Show, forever changing the history of automotive sports cars. Originally named the Miata, this little roadster has gone on to become one of the best-selling sports cars in history and the most raced car of all time. As we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the MX-5, it’s worth reflecting on its legacy and looking forward to its future, as the automotive industry faces new challenges.
The first generation of the Miata arrived in 1989, combining the simple and economical British roadster formula with the proven reliability of Japanese engineering. With modest 1.6- and 1.8-liter engines, the Miata was not only cute and easy to drive, but also well-suited to training a generation of drivers how to carry speed through corners.
The second generation, or NA Miata, was succeeded by the NB in 1998. The NB would go on to become the most raced chassis on the planet, solidifying the MX-5’s status as a legend in racing circles. During this time, the NB also became the only factory turbocharged Miata to date, with the short-lived Mazdaspeed edition.
Despite facing challenges, such as the recession that affected many auto brands, the NC continued to keep the MX-5 legacy alive. This heavier model endured the decline of the automotive industry, paving the way for the modern MX-5 we know today, the ND.
The ND represents a significant improvement in the MX-5 formula, gaining horsepower and torque vectoring over the course of its production cycle. The introduction of the Fiat 124 Spider, or Fiata, as a companion model, brought some competition to the MX-5, but ultimately, the MX-5 remained the preferred choice for enthusiasts.
Looking toward the future, Mazda confirmed that the next generation MX-5 will be electrified. However, this does not necessarily mean it will become a fully electric vehicle. It’s expected that the MX-5 will incorporate 48-volt mild hybrid technology and be compatible with synthetic fuel when it arrives in 2025.
As we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the MX-5, we can expect the legacy of this iconic roadster to continue for years to come. Mazda’s commitment to keeping the MX-5 light, affordable, and technologically advanced sets high expectations for the future of this beloved sports car.
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