The Mazda Miata MX-5 is credited for starting the sports car boom in the 1990s. Appearing for the first time during the 1990 model year, the Miata became an instant hit. While it certainly can’t compete with the power of America’s venerable and iconic roadster, the Corvette, or any of the European two-seat powerhouses, the price is right and the overall performance impressive.

More on the Mazda MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5
Mazda Mazdaspeed Miata MX-5 Origins

With little if any competition, the Miata immediately assumed a special place in North American auto circles and came to represent a certain lifestyle and sexy, sporty place. It even appears as a prop in Playboy photo shoots.

Since 1968, the Mazda car company has had a race and sports car tuning division. Originally called the "Mazda Sports Corner," this operation fielded entries in races around the world and had relative success at 24 Hours of Le Mans with Wankel engine powered cars in the 1980s before winning the race in 1991—becoming the only Japanese company to do so. Soon after its stunning victory, this independent affiliate of Mazda stopped fielding vehicles directly in order to support third party race teams. Around this time the division was renamed "Mazdaspeed." In 1999 Mazda took control of Mazdaspeed and has used it to develop parts and tuning techniques for many of the vehicles in its fleet.

This brings us to the history of the short-lived Mazda Mazdaspeed Miata MX-5. It’s worth noting that the name "Miata" does not appear anywhere on this vehicle, it is simply called the MX-5. But it is obviously a Miata, and one can tell this at a glance. The Miata has been a beloved roadster with a diehard following of enthusiasts since hitting the roads back in the early 1990s. If there is a single complaint to address or a request routinely made, it it’s for more power. The Mazda MX-5 provides the long overdue answer to that request. Mazda only produced this version of the popular roadster in 2004 and 2005. For this reason these models are becoming collectables.

About the Mazda Mazdaspeed Miata MX-5

While the Miata reputation had long been established by the time this particular version rolled off the assembly lines in 2004, the Mazdaspeed MX-5 is known as a request granted. Boosting power in the popular roadster that has sold over 300,000 units in the U.S. addresses the only issue enthusiasts ever complain about.

This Mazdaspeed MX-5 manages to retain the handling and pleasure inducing characteristics of its lower horsepower siblings, while getting an acceleration boost. Many reviewers and fans were concerned that changes in other parts of the vehicle necessitated by a boost in engine output would negatively affect the handling and performance that makes the Miata a hit. Remarkably, The Mazdaspeed shop altered more than 1000 parts, yet still retained the light, crisp, go-cart like turning and handling of roadsters. The MX-5 does not have a heavy feel, weighty transmission parts, or even a harder ride. This Miata still takes the curves well and moves quicker than its other versions in both zero to 60 and quarter-mile tests.

This upgraded Miata uses a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder that produces 178 hp at 6000 rpm and 166 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm. This special engine packs an IHI ball-bearing turbo charger that pushes eight pounds of boost to add horsepower and torque. This speed shop motor hooks up to a six-speed manual transmission. Also different from the regular models is the change to 17-inch Hart Race wheels with wider tires and a lower chassis. Along with the upgraded suspension, these changes allow this MX-5 to pull a lateral grip g.

Being a performance-oriented car, it offers little in the way of features. Saving weight helps with performance. Only two trims are available: a base model and the Grand Touring package that has leather seats and a cloth convertible top.

While the Miata MX-5 lives on, the Mazdaspeed turbo-charged version only lasted two years. Mazda made just over 5,400 of them. A fire in the factory shortened production of 2005 models to less than 1,500 after 4,000 were made in 2004.

Mazda Miata MX-5 Evolution

Between the two years, the only real difference is in color options. 2004 models can come in Velocity Red Mica or Titanium Gray Metallic only. The 2005 models offer two additional color choices: Lava Orange Mica and Black Mica. Only 2005 models offer the Grand Touring package.

Select a Mazda MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5 Year

2005 Mazda MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5

Convertible, Sports

The 2005 Mazda MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5 comes with very few new features for this year’s model.

2004 Mazda MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5

Convertible, Sports

The 2004 Mazda MAZDASPEED Miata MX-5 continues a tradition of providing affordable roadster driving fun.