The 2004 Mazda Miata MX-5 continues a tradition of providing affordable, fun-to—drive roadsters. While there is some competition, namely the Honda S2000, BMW Z4, and Porsche Boxster, the Miata proves to be much less expensive, and therefore a worthy contender in its market. Like the S2000, it isn’t a costly product bearing a badge from a dream-car producer. Mazda proved to be the perfect source for the common man’s roadster since everything they make, even minivans, gets a certain amount of performance treatment.
Body Styles: roadster
Engines: 1.8-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed-manual transmission, four-speed automatic
Models: Mazda Miata MX-5, Mazda Miata MX-5 LS
For 2004, the Mada MX-5s get new 16-inch alloy wheels as an option, and Black Cherry Mica is a new exterior color choice.
The 2004 Mazda MX-5 Miata comes in two trims: base and LS. The base starts off with 16-inch alloy wheels, power side mirrors, front fog lights, and an independent sport-tuned suspension. The LS trim adds a Tochigi Fuji limited-slip differential and remote keyless entry. These two features are optional on the base model. Stand-alone options available for both trims include a spoiler, convertible hardtop, and an outside temperature display.
The Miata is loosely based on the old British Lotus Elan roadster and doesn’t have a straight-line anywhere. All curves and style, the MX-5 has the exterior of a non-utility, pure fun driving machine, as it should.
The base offers standard cabin features, such as power windows, air-conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, intermittent wipers, a CD player, power antenna, digital clock, and theft-deterrent system. The LS trim then adds cruise control, power locks, leather seats, and a 300-watt Bose CD stereo. The interior is rather small and since the Miata 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.
Performance & Handling
Both the base and LS models make use of Mazda’s 1.8-liter, dual overhead cam, four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing. This engine produces 142 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque. Available gearboxes are a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. A six-speed manual is optional on the Miata MX-5 LS, which has a revised final-drive ratio for this model year. While the power plant in the Miata isn’t necessarily a ground pounder, it is enough to move a small roadster around rather well. This performance is still eclipsed by some in class rivals, but fun to operate just the same.
The Miata MX-5 is made purely for driving, and it shows. The handling is pure roadster with responsive steering, precise cornering and turns, and little roll or sway. This car offers a lot in the way of driving fun and all of the canyon-carving moves one can hope for. The ride can get a bit choppy and is a little stiff, overall. But this isn’t a sport sedan or European luxury car, this is a driving machine. All things considered, the ride isn’t that bad, maybe not a class leader, but comfortable enough, provided one can get inside with the top up, a feat that isn’t as simple as it seems it would be.
The MX-5 is a lacking on 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 brakes are optional for the LS trim and unavailable for the base trim. There is a security system option for either trim, but no stability or traction control. The IIHS has not performed crash safety tests with the MX-5. In NHTSA tests, the Miata 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.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mazda Miata MX-5 base: 20/26 mpg city/highway
- Handling and agility
- Driving fun
You Won't Like
- Small cabin
- Highway noise
Still setting the standard for affordable roadster fun.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Toyota MR2 Spyder
- BMW Z4
- Audi TT
- Honda S2000
- Porsche Boxster