Which generation of Mazda MX-5 is better?

Which generation of Mazda MX-5 is better?

14 September 2022 BY Jean-Sébastien Poudrier
Mazda MX-5 2022

The Mazda MX-5, formerly known as the Miata, is one of the most recognizable sports cars in the world. It is fun to drive, practical, and pretty much bulletproof in terms of reliability. 


The MX-5 was introduced on the market in 1989, and fast forward today, four generations later, the tiny Japanese sports car popularity has never stopped growing. Many attempted to reproduce the MX-5 formula, and those that succeeded never quite reached the level of the Miata.


A lot has changed since 1989 for the MX-5. The Japanese sports car has evolved considerably in the past three decades. Nevertheless, as is the case for every icon, everybody has their favourite generation. Now, the hardest part is to identify if there is a better generation with as much objectivity as possible. I’ll be honest with you, I have a tendency to become emotional when it comes to cars, but I’ll do my best to stay impartial on this one.


1st Generation 1989 -1998


Of course, regardless of your passion for any other car on the market, if you are a true car enthusiast, the 1st generation Mazda MX-5 (which was called Miata back then) should be on your list. You might end up selling it after a couple of years, but there is no better way to understand sports car philosophy than owning a first-gen Miata.


Depending on the year you chose, this puppy was powered by a 1.6 L four-cylinder making anywhere between 90 and 115 hp, or a 1.8 L four-cylinder slightly more potent with 130 hp.


The 1st gen Miata might not be your first choice, but it as is the second in any case. Those pop-up headlights are better looking than any modern headlights by a considerable margin.


2nd Generation 1998 -2005


I think it is better to let you know this is my favourite generation, most likely because this is the one that was for sale when I started to really understand cars. From all four ages, this is also the one I drove the most in my life, and ironically enough, I never owned one.  


The second generation had sportier and more athletic looks. It was also more powerful than the first generation, with a power that could range anywhere from 110 to 146 hp, depending on the version you chose.


There are some recent cars that look older than this MX-5 generations, and this is one of the good reasons why you should get this one. Its styling is pretty much timeless.


3rd Generation 2006 – 2015


The 3rd generation arrived on the market with a more serious look and suddenly became more refined than ever. The power of this generation can range from 126 to 160 hp.


With this generation came the first retractable hard top for the MX-5. This made the MX-5 much more drivable all year round in Canada and some US states where snow is present at some period of the year.


This generation focuses a little less on performances, but I think that out of the four generations, this is by far the most comfortable and elegant.


4th generation – 2015 - today


The MX-5 current generation is an amazing car. It is well balanced, and you can get very distinctive versions with the soft top and the RF. The current generation power range anywhere between 131 and 184 hp. This might not seem like a lot in today’s world, but the MX-5 is a very light car. The new MX-5 is so good that Fiat took it as a base for its new 124 Spider.


The 4th generation MX-5 has been out for 7 years now, but it feels like she has never aged at all.


Jean-Sébastien Poudrier

Tags: Fiat, Mazda, Mazda MX-5

Author: Jean-Sébastien Poudrier

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