The Mazda Miata is the world’s most beloved roadster. It’s an iconic car that turns heads and inspires smiles among owners and admirers.
However, for new drivers, it can be difficult to convince parents and concerned friends that the Miata is a safe choice for a first car.
Every time you hit the road, you’re taking a calculated risk. The safety of yourself, your passengers and other road users is in your hands.
Let’s talk about how dangerous the Miata is, and why you can feel comfortable choosing one as your first vehicle. Let’s get into it.
Are MX-5 Miatas safe?
New models of the MX-5 Miata are considered very safe, achieving a five-star safety rating from ANCAP. Older models of Miata are considered less safe than newer ones due to modern advancements in safety technologies.
Vehicle safety has come a long way since the 90’s, when the first MX-5 Miata rolled off of the production line.
But the first-generation Miata (NA) has most of the safety features you would expect from a vehicle: dual frontal airbags, seat belt tensioners and anti-lock braking systems (ABS) fitted to later models.
The NB and NC generations took the Miata’s safety to new heights, with ABS as standard and side airbags fitted to the NC.
The MX-5 Miata also benefits from a low centre of gravity, making rollovers a very rare occurrence. Most accidents involving Miatas result from driver error or collisions with other road users.
How safe are MX-5 Miatas in a crash?
The latest Mazda MX-5 Miata (ND) scored a four out of five stars in Euro NCAP’s road safety tests. It included an 84% safety rating for adult passengers and a 93% safety rating for pedestrians.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) publishes yearly insurance loss reports for all vehicles. These reports seek to find out how many insurance claims have been made for a vehicle, and what type of claim has been logged (personal injury, property damage, bodily injury etc.).
As you can see above, in 2017-19, the MX-5 Miata performed substantially better than average in most insurance loss categories. This means that claims for personal or bodily injury from MX-5 owners were substantially lower than the average amount of claims. That’s a good sign!
Regardless of the statistics, your safety is in your hands. It’s a good idea to practice defensive driving at all times on the road. Stay aware of your surroundings, don’t get distracted and keep an eye out for hazards.
Are MX-5 Miatas dangerous?
The Mazda MX-5 Miata is not a dangerous car when driven correctly. It’s reliable and offers great road handling, making them easy to control in emergency situations. It also has all of the safety features you would expect from a modern vehicle.
You might have been told that the Miata is a ‘death trap’. This is simply not the case. Collisions depend on hundreds of different factors. A number of Miata owners have crashed their vehicles and lived to tell the tale, with only a few minor injuries to recover from.
Sure, a convertible might not be as safe in a collision as an SUV or a truck. But there are lots of other things to consider – with your ability to avoid accidents being the main one.
Personally, I have never felt unsafe in my Mazda MX-5. I’m essentially protected by a massive metal cage on wheels. It has airbags and crumple zones. If the MX-5 Miata really was a death trap, I wouldn’t be driving one!
Do Miatas have airbags?
All US models of the Mazda Miata are fitted with driver airbags as standard unless an aftermarket steering wheel has been installed.
It’s important to note that this can differ with vehicles produced around the world. In the US, driver-side airbags were fitted from the beginning of the NA’s production. In 1994, passenger-side airbags were also added to the first-generation model.
For the NB, dual frontal airbags come as standard. The NC saw the first side airbags fitted to the Mazda MX-5 Miata, which are designed to protect the head of a driver in side-impact collisions.
Are MX-5 Miata ‘style hoops’ safe?
While they might look cool, ‘style hoops’ or ‘style bars’ are not considered to be safe for Mazda MX-5 Miatas. Drivers have reported that, in a rear-end collision, the hoops can jolt forward and suffocate the driver and passenger, or hit their head.
Style bars are different to track-approved roll bars, as style bars are usually made with low-quality stainless steel.
Roll bars are designed to protect you in a rollover situation with high-quality tubed steel and bracing. They are typically used in track-focused MX-5 Miatas where the soft top provides little head protection in a rollover.
Unless you’re planning to use your Miata on track, a roll bar is not mandatory. You can weigh up the advantages, the disadvantages and the cost and decide if one is right for you.
How to drive safely in an MX-5 Miata
Practising defensive driving is the best way to improve your safety when out and about in your Mazda MX-5 Miata. Keep an eye on the road, ditch the distractions and don’t excessively speed.
Here are some basic tips for improving your safety in an MX-5 Miata:
- Wear your seat belt
- Don’t drive tired
- Keep distractions away (phones etc.)
- Don’t speed or rush
- Invest in good tires
Your tires are your Miata’s one and only contact with the road. The handling of your MX-5 Miata really does depend on the quality of your tires. For this reason, it’s important to invest some cash in a reputable tire brand and model.
The Miata is a small car. Sometimes other road users can have a hard time spotting your car, especially if it’s black or navy blue. Don’t swerve or drive too closely to other drivers! You should maintain a reasonable distance at all times.
Modern motor vehicles are designed to protect drivers, passengers and pedestrians while remaining fun to drive and economical to run.
The MX-5 Miata is no different. Introduced in 1989, Mazda has incorporated the latest safety features into all of its models. It even had to drop the iconic pop-up headlight design from the NA model due to pedestrian safety concerns.
This has resulted in a number of high scores in a range of crash tests and safety reports. As a result, drivers can feel safe when operating a Mazda MX-5 Miata.
But your driving style plays a huge part in how safe you are on the road. Practising defensive driving can decrease your risk of getting into an accident and also protects other road users.
What are your thoughts on the safety of the MX-5 Miata, and convertibles in general? Let us know below!