Why Are Miatas So Cheap?

Miatas are so cheap due to being mass-produced, having too much supply without appropriate demand, being impractical, having lackluster design interior, and poor engine performance. All of these qualities compounded creates a poor-selling product with a low price tag.

The Mazda MX-5, known to many people as the Miata, is one of the popular cars in the sports car category. The Miata first hit American shores in 1989; since then, Mazda had sold over a million units. 

One of the things that first caught the eye about the Miata was its pop up lights. Its affordability and reliability also endeared consumers to the car. Over the years, the Miata has gained a cult following. There are even Miata clubs in the US.

Despite its popularity and wonderful features, the Miata is still one of the cheapest cars in the roadster category. Year on year, the Miata has outsold its rivals, yet its low price persists. Why is this?

This relatively low price makes one wonder what is wrong with the Mazda Miata. Several factors contribute to the low cost of the Miata. Reliability and performance are not one of them. Let us delve into a brief history of the MX-5 before analysing why they are cheap.

Brief History of Mazda Miata

Mazda Miata was designed and produced because Mazda felt they could build a successor to the popular Lotus Elan. From 1989 when it came into the market, there have been five generations of the Miata.

Mazda wanted a basic sports car that was affordable for most people. Most people love it when it hit the showrooms, and the early editions of the Miata have become iconic with its pop-up lights.

Did you know that the Mazda MX5 is the best-selling 2-seat sports car in the world? Though produced in Mazda’s Hiroshima plant in Japan, the Miata is sold all over the world. Ironically, its popular name isn’t Japanese; it is derived from an ancient High German word that means reward.

In 2016, Mazda announced they had sold one million Miatas. Not many cars have reached that milestone, which makes the Miata in a class of its own. It is one of the most successful brands under the Mazda label.

The Miata comes in three trims:

  • Sport
  • Club
  • Grand Touring

Miata Specifications

The recent Mazda Miata is a two-seater sports car with rear-wheel drive. Here are some of its specifications.

  • 2.0l four-cylinder engine produces 181hp, 151lbft of torque, and accelerates from 0-60 in 5.9 seconds.
  • Standard six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic transmission.
  • 4.59 cubic feet of cargo space.
  • It is 12.8ft. from nose to tip
  • The Miata weighs between 2,341 to 2,496lbs.

Reasons for Miata (Mazda MX5) Cheap Price

Whether it is a used car or new, the Miata costs lower than most cars in its category; there are several reasons for this. Here are some of them.

Bland Interior

The theme of the Miata is efficiency; this runs through every part of the car. There is no other place this is more glaring than its interior. The best way to describe it is minimalist, cloth upholstery, cheap plastic dashboard.

It gets the job done, but it also ensures that its price is low.

The Volume of Cars Produced

Mazda produces a lot of Miatas. Since Mazda has flooded the car market with a lot of this product, the interaction of market forces means that price should go down. To illustrate this point, let us compare the sales volumes of the Miata and its direct competitors.

In 2020, Ford sold 1,711 of its Ford Spider in the US market. In comparison, Mazda sold 8,807 Miatas in the US that same year. Suppose we take another direct competitor, the Buick Cascada. In 2019, Buick sold 2,535 in the US while the Miata 7,753 in the US that same year.

The sheer difference in the volume of Miatas produced by its competitors means that the price of their cars will go down. There is no tag of exclusivity in own one. Every year a new model floods the market. 

Flooding the market and driving down the price is not a bad idea. Remember that the Miata is the bestselling car in the category. It is also the only car in Mazda’s production line that had an increase in sales.

It begs the question of whether or not the Mazda MX5 is a good car but you may also wonder if its competitors like the Camaro, or Mustang is a good first car as well. 

Low Cost of Production

Mazda can beat its competitors in the number of cars produced because they have worked on reducing their cost of production to the minimum. No R and D goes into Miata engines. All the engines they use have been in production already and used by other cars.

Miatas have just the bare necessities, and that’s it, no new technology or luxury interior. It is a comfortable ride, with a fuel-efficient engine and smooth handling. In other words, a simple and efficient car.

The result is a car with low production costs, which in turn means low retail prices. This can be a turn-off for some luxury-minded consumers. But the truth is the numbers don’t lie. Low prices mean more cars are sold, that is what matters to Mazda and a good reason to make Miatas cheap.

Small Size Bias and Constraints

Another reason for the Miata’s relatively low price is a bias against cars this size in significant markets. For example, take the American car market; most car buyers are looking for leg and cargo space. Miata has neither. There is also the fact that the Miata isn’t a luxury car like a Honda NSX. It is primarily a good car for a leisure ride.

Even though there are other two-seaters in the markets, many are luxury cars that also count against the Miata. Why should anyone pay so much for a car with an underpowered engine, a simple interior, and no cargo or leg space?

It is this kind of bias that affects the price of the Miata. It is in that awkward position of having the features of a luxury car but not being a luxury car.

Lack of Exclusivity

McLaren F1, Bentley Continental GT, and Maserati GranTurismo, what do these cars have in common? Their exclusivity. When you buy any of these cars, you know you are one of the select few in the world that has them. They are sports cars that are luxurious, expensive, and exclusive.

The Mazda MX5 is none of those attributes; it’s mass-produced without great perks. This lack of exclusivity means that it can’t command the price that these other cars do. This opinion is not to bash the Miata; the car does what it is supposed to do with minimum fuss. This lack of exclusivity, however, affects the price.

Again, we should understand that the original plan of the manufacturers is not to produce an exclusive car. It’s to make an affordable sports car. We boldly say the Miata is playing that role perfectly.

Engine and Car Performance

The Miata’s 2.0-litre engine accelerates from 0-60 in 5.9 seconds compared to the Toyota GR Supra 2.0, whose engine goes from 0-60 in a considerably shorter 4.8 seconds it falls short. This lack of engine performance when compared to its competitors also affects the price. There are other cars in the sports car category that offer quicker and more powerful engines. It also has 181hp is way than Toyota GR’s 2.0l four-cylinder engine.

Also, all Miatas come in rear-wheel drive. The RWD helps in giving it smooth handling. In extreme weather cases like winter, an RWD vehicle doesn’t offer the same traction as an AWD car. So compared to a vehicle like the Subaru WRX that boasts of an All-wheel drive, the Miata falls short. This also affects its price compared to some of its competitors.

Limited Use

The Miata is not a practical car. Yes, many sports cars are not practical, but they have some redeeming qualities. The Miata is just there; too small for a comfortable drive, not enough juice in the engine, small cargo space, and its interior doesn’t set the pulse racing.

Compared to other sports cars that offer a turbocharged engine, a luxury interior, or advanced technology, the Miata is a sports car with great fuel efficiency. Not having these features isn’t a recipe for an expensive car, but it is for an affordable one.


The Miata MX-5 is a great car that does most things that is expected of a sports car. It might not do it as well as some others, but it is reliable. The car also boasts of low maintenance costs, low insurance costs, a high safety rating, superb handling, and some speed. 

Furthermore, it might not dampen road noise like the Porsche Boxter or have a back seat and ample cargo space like the Toyota 86 (an affordable sports car), or the AWD, four doors and the practicality of WRX

It has the best fuel efficiency, affordability, beauty, and one of the best reliability scores in the sports car category.

The Mazda Miata also boasts of a good resale value and a low price. Mazda Miata serves the purpose it was made for, a cheap, no-frills sports car that is not expensive. No wonder it’s a bestseller.

And there are more cheap cars similar to the Mazda MX5—

  1. Cheap Corvettes
  2. Cheap Chargers
  3. Cheap CRZs
  4. Cheap Stingers
  5. Cheap G80s


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