The Mazda MX-5 Miata Doesn’t Seem to Actually Be That Popular

by Gabrielle DeSantis

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a pretty well-rounded little car. It offers sophisticated styling, elegant interior features, and a sporty drive all for an attractive price. Despite its popularity, though, it isn’t seeing the sales figures that you would think it would have. 

GoodCarBadCar shows its sales figures over the last 16 years. How many sales has it really seen, and is it still a good sports car to buy? Let’s see what the charts have to say.

A brief history of sales for the Mazda MX-5 Miata

The Mazda MX-5 Miata | Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The production of the Mazda MX-5 Miata was no accident, and it didn’t appear overnight. In fact, the concept of this Miata version was born in the early 1980s. After several design tweaks, the Miata debuted in 1989. Over the years, it would see many changes, one of which was its engine.

Mazda, in 2004, decided to try out a turbocharged motor in the small sports car, known as the Mazdaspeed MX-5. This model produced 178 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque, which provided enough boost to cut the acceleration time by 1.4 seconds.

The Mazda MX-5 third-generation model joined the Miata lineup for the 2006 model year. Because of the Miata’s reputation, it saw some pretty strong sales figures for the first couple of years Mazda produced it. But, as GoodCarBadCar charts show, purchases started going down for the 2009 model. 

The highest selling year was in 2006, which saw 16,897 sales. The following year, 2007, came pretty close with a total of 15,075 purchases. After the 2008 model year, however, sales started dipping under the 10,000 mark. Sales figures continued to look dismal for quite a few years after that. 

But, in 2017 Mazda saw a comeback for the Miata with 11,294 purchases. Unfortunately, it only lasted for a year, and sales dropped again after that. In 2020, the Miata saw 8,807 purchases. So far in 2021, Mazda has sold 3,976 units. 

What happened to the Mazda MX-5 Miata experience?

The concept of the Mazda MX-5 Miata was to provide a simple-designed sports car that was light and could drive like a dream while remaining an affordable vehicle. Mazda hit the nail on the head for many years, but when it came to the third generation of Miatas, something went wrong. 

The first-generation offered a five-speed manual transmission, a four-cylinder engine along with a rear-wheel drivetrain. The second-gen vehicle offered the same except with a bit more power under the hood and a little more refinement. The third generation, however, was built on the RX-8’s platform, which added a bit of weight to it. 

Making matters worse, Mazda added a powered version of a retractable hardtop, which gave the Miata even more weight. Enthusiasts of this sports car feel that the extra weight and the added amenities affected the MX-5 popularity. It just went too far away from its roots. 

Is it still a good sports car to buy?

Where else can you get an entry-level sports car for an affordable price? Mazda’s MX-5 Miata has been on the market for over 30 years and in that time, it’s developed a pretty big fan base. While it’s not exactly known for optimal speed, it offers enough thrills when driving it to get many addicted to its experience. 

This fourth-generation offers a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 181 hp, which is a few more than the old Mazdaspeed version did. It also has enough styling and tech features to garner attention from all kinds of drivers

While it still has the same lush interior, and aesthetic appeal, the MX-5 offers a quiet ride with strategically placed sound-deadening materials, so you’re not distracted from the smooth handling and fun ride that it’s known for. What’s the most thrilling part of buying the MX-5 Miata is getting it for a starting price of almost $27,000. 

The Mazda MX-5 has always been a popular little sports car since its debut in the late ’80s. Since the third and fourth generations hit the market, however, sales have dropped. But, despite that, it’s still an exceptional vehicle to buy if you want an entry-level roadster with exceptional handling capabilities. 

RELATED: 25 Snapshots of the Mazda Miata Through History

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