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2004 Mazda MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5

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2004 Mazda MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5 Review

The standard for affordable roadster fun just got more powerful.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The 2004 Mazda MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5 continues a tradition of providing affordable roadster driving fun. Over 15 years, some competition has come along, namely the Honda S2000, BMW Z4, and Porsche Boxster. But roadsters are typically produced by expensive, high-end automakers, and that causes the Miata to be a roadster that just about anyone can afford. Like the S2000, it isn’t a costly product bearing a badge from a dream-car producer. Mazda took its fun and affordable MX-5 and gave it the MAZDASPEED specialty treatment to finally answer fans’ request for a more powerful MX-5. And now, it is here.

The Range

Body Styles: roadster
Engines: 1.8-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: six-speed manual
Models: MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5

What's New

The Mazda MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5 itself is new for 2004, being a performance upgraded version of the already fun-to-drive Miata roadster.

Exterior

The 2004 Mazda MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5 is its own trim level. It offers 17-inch alloy Hart racing wheels, beefed up anti-roll bars, and double wishbone suspensions. There is a rear spoiler, and the convertible top is manually operated, since a motor to do the job would add weight. The MAZDASPEED version of the MX-5 offers the same look and lines as the other MX-5s, although the name ""Miata"" is nowhere to be found on the body. The MX-5, in general, is loosely based on the old British Lotus Elan roadster and doesn’t have a straight-line anywhere. All curves and style, the MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5 has the exterior of a non-utility, pure fun driving machine, as it should.

Interior

For cabin features, the MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5 offers cloth seats, a few power amenities, air-conditioning, leather trim on the steering wheel and shift knob, and a Bose premium 225-watt audio system with a six-CD player in the dash. The interior is rather small and since the MX-5 is only four-feet tall, it requires that occupants climb down into the cockpit. Everything is easy to reach with good ergonomics, and the dashboard layout is simple enough to read very quickly. This isn’t a luxury interior and despite the exterior style, not an overly stylized interior. Mazda went for simple and direct with a no-nonsense, unfussy approach that implies the MX-5 is for driving pleasure and as such needs no distractions like excessive gadgets or funky styling cues.

Performance & Handling

This version of the MX-5 gets the MAZDASPEED shop treatment to improve performance. The basic 1.8-liter four-cylinder used in the regular MX-5s has been upgraded. A turbocharger has been added, and the engine has been redesigned to handle the extra stress caused by forced induction. The variable valve timing system was dropped, which wasn't needed because of the turbo, and thus improves mid-range power. Then the engine block was modified to accommodate an oil line for the turbo, the combustion chambers were modified slightly, and the pistons were reshaped to lower the compression ratio from 10:1 to 9.5:1 and handle the extra fuel-air mixture provided by the turbocharger. A six-speed manual transmission, clutch, pressure plate, driveshaft, and Bosch torque- sensing limited-slip differential all have been matched to the new turbocharged engine. This isn’t just a matter of slapping on a turbocharger and calling it good, the whole of the performance parts have been altered. The MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5 runs the zero-to-60-mph sprint in just 6.9 seconds, and the quarter mile in 14.9 seconds, both noticeable improvements over any previous MX-5.

As far as handling goes, the goal was to make a car that is natural, balanced, and easy to drive. This MX-5 handles well; it’s tight, precise with a good grip, and makes driving a lot of fun with what it can do. Somehow, the Bilstein folks managed to dial in the suspension in a way to offer performance yet still be drivable on the highway. The MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5 will never be mistaken for a luxury car, especially with the ride that results from such a short wheelbase, but this MX-5 can be enjoyed in some comfort over most types of roads.

+J315

Safety

The MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5 isn’t exactly full of safety equipment. There are dual front airbags with a deactivation feature for the passenger airbag for both trims, but side-impact airbags are not available. Anti-lock disc brakes are standard. The IIHS has not performed crash safety tests with the MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5. In NHTSA tests, the regular Miata MX-5 earned mixed scores, receiving five out of five stars for rollover resistance and front passenger safety, four stars for front driver safety and three stars for side-impact driver’s safety. These are all above average to great scores, not bad for a roadster lacking in safety features.

EPA Fuel Economy

Mazda MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5 Miata: 18/24 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Handling and agility
  • Driving fun
  • Economy
  • More power than regular MX-5

You Won't Like

  • Small cabin
  • Highway noise

Sum Up

The standard for affordable roadster fun just got more powerful.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Toyota MR2 Spyder
  • BMW Z4
  • Audi TT
  • Honda S2000
  • Porsche Boxster
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