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1997 Mazda Miata

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1997 Mazda Miata Review

Sporty and economical.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a charming two-seater roadster, modeled after British roadsters of the 1960s. While many buyers remain drawn to German convertibles like the BMW Z3, Mercedes SLK, and Porsche Boxster, it is Mazda that has truly succeeded in building the superior roadster on the market. While it has an enthusiastic following, it can be regarded as a 2300-pound bundle of fun and enjoyment. It's a well-made automobile that is simultaneously reliable, dependable, and exhilarating.

The Range

Body Styles: roadster
Engines: 1.8-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Mazda Miata MX-5, Mazda Miata MX-5 STO Edition, Mazda Miata MX-5 M Edition

What's New

The 1997 Mazda Miata adds a Touring Package to its available options. This touring package consists of alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power steering, power mirrors and windows, and door pockets. The M Edition debuts with a sporty metallic Marina Green exterior paint color, tan convertible top, and chrome alloy wheels. A limited edition summertime STO-Edition MX-5 Miata produced only 1500 cars and is also introduced to the market.


The 1997 Mazda Miata’s look is a tribute to the MG and Triumph from the 1950s and 1960s. It's a small roadster that just looks like fun on wheels and rides a 89.2–inch wheelbase and is 155.4 inches long, roughly 66 inches wide, and 48.2 inches tall. It has rack and pinion steering and a 30-foot turning radius. The base trim has standard 14-inch tires, while the STO and M Editions come standard with 15-inch tires.

The 1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata utilizes double wishbone, fully independent, front and rear suspension. Exterior options for the Miata include sport suspension, a rear spoiler, alloy wheels, power exterior mirrors, power antenna, and a hardtop roof. The hardtop roof will reduce noise levels and give the car’s structure a noticeably stiffer feel.



The 1997 Mazda Miata’s cockpit is roomy and comfortable. Because the MX-5 sits low to the ground, the seats feel low as well, but it's comfortable and offers plenty of support. Some of the control locations may take some time to adjust. For example, the horn is recessed, the power window switches are located in the center console to the front of the armrest, and the trunk and fuel door release buttons are actually inside the lockable armrest. Climate and ventilation controls are easily accessible, and radio controls may be a bit lower in the center console than usual.

The 1997 Mazda Miata gets minimal storage space; a spare tire takes up a good chunk of available trunk space. Smaller parcels should still fit inside the trunk. Certain items could also be placed inside the spare tire, too. The passenger seat may have to be used for groceries. Other interior storage includes a small glove compartment, a small storage bin under the armrest, and two small soft pockets inside the doors. Air-conditioning is available as an option, but some buyers mention that its air-conditioning makes a lot of noise and struggles to cool the inside.

Performance & Handling

The 1997 Mazda Miata’s engine isn’t a powerhouse and could benefit from about 20 additional ponies. But acceleration is strong and typically smooth regardless of speed. From a standstill, it can hit 60 mph in roughly 8.7 seconds; while it's so agile and light, it makes it feel even faster. Handling is excellent since the vehicle’s weight is distributed equally between the front and back, and the transmission shifts like a dream. The clutch is smooth and easy to operate, working perfectly with the shifter, which clicks into gear with minimal effort. Although traffic driving serves to be no problem, freeway stints may be a bit loud with both engine and road noise.


The 1997 Mazda Miata comes standard with driver and passenger front airbags. NHTSA crash tests gave three stars for passenger safety and four stars for driver safety in frontal impact crashes.

EPA Fuel Economy

Mazda Miata: 23/29 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Incredibly fun to drive
  • Handles amazingly
  • Peppy engine
  • Reliable

You Won't Like

  • Little storage space
  • Noisy
  • Could benefit from more horsepower
  • Two-seater

Sum Up

Sporty and economical.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Volkswagen Cabrio
  • Plymouth Prowler
  • BMW Z3
  • Porsche Boxster

See the New 2015 Miata.

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