2015 Mazda Miata – 25 Years of Automotive Awesome


It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since Mazda took the wraps off the original, first-generation MX-5 Miata. That car was built as a modern interpretation of the original, RWD Lotus Elan, and it captured the imagination of the sports car faithful by combining- for the first time!- a quick, nimble, and genuine open-top experience with the bulletproof reliability that is the hallmark of Japanese automakers.

As such, the Miata was a revelation.

See, up until the Miata, choosing a sports car meant sacrificing reliability. If you wanted that Alfa Romeo or that MGB, it meant that you also wanted to spend a few several weekends wrenching on the thing. It would leave you stranded, too- no matter much you loved it. It was a death trap. The Miata, however, was none of those things. It was that “right” partner that finally rewarded your love by loving you in return and, in the 25 years that have come and gone since the first Miata showed up on our collective doorsteps, that love has grown richer, deeper, and better.

Then the Miata went all “cat lady” on us and got this goofy-looking facelift, which …


… I mean, obviously you still love the Miata. It’s just, I dunno. It looks a little bit cartoonish and botox-y now, you know?

Luckily, the 2016 Miata isn’t here, yet, and the 25th Anniversary 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata can still be had for about the price of Mazda’s own 6 series mid-size sedan– but with enough in the way of classic Lotus Elan styling cues for the connection to still resonate with the older Gen-X and Baby Boomer crowds that I find myself feeling increasingly comfortable around. In addition, Chris recently drove the (nearly identical) 2014 version, so I’ll keep my review to more “practical” matters.


2015 Mazda Miata | Can You Live With It

Like that first Miata, the 2015 Mazda MX-5 has a naturally aspirated 4 cyl. engine nestled between its axles that’s mated to a simple transmission that sends power exclusively to the rear wheels. In practice, the car is perfectly balanced, and feels like it’s light-years ahead of cars like the Scion FR-S/Toyota GT86, which are a generation or two newer, at least.

Inside, the Miata’s dash is free from large screens, which makes it feel like a much older car than it is. Similarly, the interior color choices on my tester were- what’s a polite way of saying “crap”? Seriously, Mazda (and Jeep, while I’m at it) seem to be hiring color-blind kids that are Hell-bent on pairing brown seats with otherwise black, plastic interiors. It never looks good, and certainly didn’t help the Miata seem “edgy” or even “nice”. A better choice, I think, would have been a durable, water-resistant cloth or even a marine vinyl that wouldn’t mind getting wet.

Speaking of getting wet, that is almost entirely optional with the 2015 Miata, which- in the case of my tester- one-ups the 1990 original by employing a folding metal roof. That metal roof, by the way, utterly removes the fear of someone slashing your top to get to your belongings (which has happened to me with both a Mustang and VW Cabrio) and doesn’t seem to carry a performance penalty. Up or down, trunk space remains very much the same.

The 2015 Mazda Miata is, in other words, an utterly drivable, practical little two-seater that could, maybe, make a practical commuter- especially in light of the 28 MPG I saw on the dash computer during much of my week with the little car.


2015 Mazda Miata | Final Thoughts

The last Miata I drove before this one was 2nd generation 1999 model. That car was light, nimble, and simple. 15 years on, the Miata is still light, nimble, and simple- and that is an astonishing achievement when you consider the bloat that other “sports cars” have packed on since 1990. Driving along Chicago’s Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive with the top down on a cool autumn afternoon, the 2015 Miata made me a believer. Funny enough, just a week before and on the same road in similar weather, the Scion FR-S made me feel like only idiots would buy it.

I like to think that, on my better days, I’m not an idiot, and I would be very, very happy to buy a Mazda Miata if the wife/kids/urban parking situation allowed for an extra two seater- and that’s high praise from a guy who regularly scoffs at the need for car ownership. If they only offered the car in British racing green …

Original content from Gas 2.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.