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Used vs New: Mazda Miata

Steven Mitchell

The MX-5 ND generation has been with us since 2015. Can the newest model beat out a used Mazda Miata? Let’s find out.

The Latest Mazda MX-5 Miata

2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata - mazdausa.com

2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata – mazdausa.com |  Shop Mazda MX-5 Miata on Carsforsale.com

The 2021 Mazda MX-5 ND/ND2 generation has been with us since 2015, with the 2019 model receiving a stronger and higher-revving engine upgrade with some other new bits. Outside, however, it still carries the same skin as the 2015 version.

Through its years, the ND and ND2 have pulled in loads of love and accolades. We’ve seen it get every car of the year type award, ten best honors, and product design awards, for a good reason. The Mazda Miata keeps getting better and better and is arguably one of the best sports car values on the road today.

Should You Buy a New or Used Mazda Miata?

2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata - mazdausa.com
2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata - mazdausa.com

Very few cars will match the joy per pound that the MX-5 will give you. Granted, in the 2018 model, you’ll struggle with being outrun by some newer SUVs, but so what. You can buy four MX-5 models for the cost of a fully optioned-out Suburban. That’s one for each member of the family. That way, they can do their errands and leave you in peace.

But do you buy them pre-owned? You would be right in thinking that almost everything with used cars costs less. A car with only three years of prior ownership is enticing, but there’s the issue of reliability and wear. Although today’s vehicles are more dependable than they’ve ever been, the used Mazda Miata’s previous owner’s care is vital to consider. A sports car owner may drive more aggressively, which stresses the engine and components. Track days, high-speed driving, and panic stops affect the transmission and brakes.

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata - news.mazdausa.com
2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata - news.mazdausa.com

So, while nearly everything about used cars costs less, buying a new car has its advantages. You’ll be the first owner and know how the vehicle is taken care of. The reliability of the vehicle won’t be a question, plus you’ll have a new warranty. In many cases, you’ll also get free basic maintenance for one or more years.

A new car generally loses 50% of its value in the first three years, and if you find the right used Mazda MX-5, you could save thousands of dollars. But would you have what you truly want? Decisions, decisions! Is a brand new 2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata starting at $29,580 a better purchase than a slightly loved used Mazda Miata from 2018? Is it worth the extra depreciation to get the latest and greatest? Let’s do some research before we strap into one of the best sports cars around, the MX-5.

Mazda MX-5 Miata Trims

2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata 2.0L I4 - carsforsale.com
2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata 2.0L I4 - carsforsale.com

A new, out the door, base 2021 Mazda MX-5 will set you back $26,830, with the Grand Touring trim coming in hot at $31,770 and the MX-5 RF Club trim coming in at $33,450. For all trims, you get Mazda’s wonderful SKYACTIV®-G 2.0 DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT that throws out 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. That may not sound like a lot if you don’t know that the MX-5 has a curb weight of fewer than 2400 lbs. The 2.0-liter will move the Mazda Miata along with a 0-60 of 5.7 seconds and a top speed over 130 mph, so it’s not shabby.

As far as the transmission, please get a manual, it’s a sports car after all. You also get the standard limited-slip rear end with the manual option. There is a very capable 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters, but it doesn’t come with the limited-slip. So, we think the manual is your choice for fun and driving enjoyment.

The Club trim comes with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, Smart City Brake Support, and LED front and rear lights. Smart City Brake Support operates from 2 to 18 mph and tries to prevent you from bumping into things at a slow speed, such as stop-and-go traffic. Mazda also includes forward collision mitigation, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-departure warnings.

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Club - news.mazdausa.com
2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Club - news.mazdausa.com

We checked out Carsforsale.com’s used car section and currently, a used 2018 Mazda MX-5 with all of the same features that are found on new models can be found for between $20,000 – $25,000 and have 3 – 8,000 miles on the odometer. Pretty low miles for a 2018 and a nearly 20% discount or $8,000 off of MSRP.

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Overall, the 2021 and the 2018 model are almost twins. The 181 horsepower 2.0-liter is the same engine as the 2018, but it’s been hot-rodded. Lighter pistons, larger intake and exhaust valves, plus a larger throttle body and exhaust opens it up. It’s higher-revving by 700 rpm and, we have to say, is by far the better feeling engine. The bottom line is that the ND2 engine doesn’t make the car that much quicker, but it has much more character.

Driving Performance

2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata - mazdausa.com
2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata - mazdausa.com

Although the 2018 horsepower wasn’t overwhelming, it’s strong enough to propel the used Mazda Miata to a 6.4 second 0-60. The SkyActiv G engine produces 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. And before the ND2’s engine upgrade, you would have probably been happy with that power. The used Mazda Miata will still bring a big smile to your face.

However, the new 7,500 rpm redlined engine plus some of the suspension upgrades made the new Mazda Miata just that much better. If you drive the 2021 before a 2018, you’re going to want the newer car. You’ll love that redline and the feel of the torque. Otherwise, nothing else changes and the 2018 ND chassis still have the same quick steering and responsiveness as the 2021 model. It’s just the engine that will call your name.

2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata - mazdausa.com
2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata - mazdausa.com

At speed, both models’ Bilstein shocks do a magnificent job of absorbing road issues, but seem to allow a bit too much body roll. We only say that because tooling around on the surface streets makes the shock package seem harsh and a little unforgiving. Mazda chose the Bilstein’s for control and compliance at faster speeds. It’s not hateful at all, but be aware that the club trim comes with these shocks.

Interior and Comfort

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata - carsforsale.com
2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata - carsforsale.com

Inside, a few things have changed since the model’s debut. The MX-5 sound system has lost a CD player, its MP3 player ability, and the infotainment user interface has received some updates. And as a reminder, only the Club trim and up has the Android Auto or Apple Carplay before 2021.

The 2021 MX-5 also has voice recognition technology that wasn’t available in the 2018 ND, but otherwise, that’s it. Regarding safety, the 2021 MX-5 gains a lane departure warning and rear camera, but the other safety features like blind-spot monitoring were around in the used Mazda Miata model.

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata - carsforsale.com
2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata - carsforsale.com

The MX-5 is an intimate space to drive in, and you most likely know that the storage room is at a premium. Even though we appreciate the idea of the removable cupholders Mazda has provided, they always seem to get in the way, so don’t be sad if they aren’t in a 2018 you might find. Other than that, everything fits so well, and the quality is top-notch.

We would suggest getting the RF, especially if you don’t like the wind noise that comes with the classic convertible. We know the Mazda MX-5 Miata is meant to be driven with the top down, but the RF is a much better environment if you’re using it as a daily driver.

With the MX-5, it’s More Fun to Go New.

2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata - insidemazda.mazdausa.com

2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata – insidemazda.mazdausa.com |  Shop Mazda MX-5 Miata on Carsforsale.com

If we’re looking at a used Mazda Miata, it’s a challenge to pass up a 2021. If you want the best version of this vehicle, the upgraded ND2 engine is the way to go. But if you think $30,000 is way too much to spend on a car this small with less than 350 horsepower, then you may not be the right buyer. There are muscle cars out there for you. If you still want a fun to drive MX-5, but don’t have the coin, then looking for a used Mazda Miata model will be fine. You won’t regret it either way.

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Steven Mitchell
Steven Mitchell

Steve's first car had pedals, and he's been filled with passion for four wheels ever since. He lives and breathes the car life as a technologist, futurist, and writer while keeping up with the whys, hows, and plans of the automotive industry. His automotive journey began with a fully restored Triumph TR3b that he sadly never appreciated until decades later. Ownerships of X-1/9's, BMW's, an SVT and a Dodge Ram Hemi have given way to the house of Audi Sport. You'll also find him as an endurance athlete on the bike in SoCal, but you'll know he's thinking about cars.

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