Why Is The Mazda MX-5 Called Miata? Explained

The Mazda MX-5 is one of the most popular sports cars on the road, and with good reason. 

The car is a blast to drive, looks great, and has a very attractive price point. It’s also a convertible, which is a huge bonus for sun-seekers and adrenaline lovers.

In America, the Mazda MX-5 has always been known as the Miata – but why is this?

It’s a result of car culture, owner enthusiasm and clever marketing on Mazda’s part.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the origins of naming the best-selling roadster of all time.

Why is the MX-5 called the Miata?

Miata (pronounced “me-ya-tuh”) means ‘prize’ or ‘reward’ in Old High German. In the US, Mazda’s most popular roadster is marketed as the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The name is regularly shortened to just ‘Miata’.

Image Credit: Mazda Europe

The ‘Miata’ name is used exclusively in the marketing of the Mazda MX-5 in the American market.

The origins of the name can be traced back to a chance happening in the 1980s.

Rod Bymaster, Mazda’s head of product planning and marketing at the time, discovered the word ‘Miata’ in a dictionary and thought it suited the car perfectly.

Mazda wanted to call the MX-5 the ‘Miata’ in Japan as well as in America. Unfortunately, copyright issues with a bicycle company called Miyata prevented this from happening.

The Miata has become synonymous with a no-frills, purist driving experience with great handling and maximum fun factor.

The first-generation (NA) Miata is also infamous for its unique pop-up headlight design.

MX-5 is the official Mazda-given name of the car. It also fits in with Mazda’s official model naming conventions – alongside the CX and now-discontinued RX series.

However, the Miata name remains a fan favourite. There have been several calls amongst enthusiasts to rebrand the MX-5 solely as the Miata on a worldwide scale.

Are the MX-5 and the Miata the same thing?

The MX-5 and the Miata are different names for the same vehicle (Mazda MX-5) manufactured by Mazda Motor Corporation. The Miata name is used in American markets, while the MX-5 name is popular in European and Asian markets.

There are a few subtle differences between cars that are sold in different countries.

For example, all MX-5s sold in the United Kingdom are right-hand drive. In the US, the Miata is a left-hand drive vehicle.

If you compare the engine bay of a UK MX5 to a US Miata, you’ll notice that the power steering pump, power steering fluid reservoir, brake master cylinder and windscreen washer fluid reservoirs are in different places.

This is to accommodate for the difference in steering wheel location. Of course, registration plate placement and plinths will also differ from country to country.

However, there are no major engineering or design differences between the Mazda MX-5 and the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

They are the same best-selling roadsters with that unbeatable formula of lightweight, rear-wheel-drive fun.

Why do Americans call the MX-5 the Miata?

Mazda’s North American division chose to market the MX-5 as the ‘Mazda MX-5 Miata’. The name quickly caught on with American consumers who were impressed with the handling and affordable price of the Miata.

The first generation of Miata, the NA, was introduced to the US in 1989. 

The NA officially ceased production in 1997, making way for the NB and subsequent generations.

In the 8 years that the NA Miata was available on the US market, it managed to sell a whopping 228,961 units.

Judging by these numbers, it’s safe to say that the Miata was a huge hit with American drivers. 

It didn’t matter if you were male or female, young or old – the Miata had something for everyone. It had become a cultural phenomenon of its time.

When did Mazda stop using the Miata name?

Mazda is still using the Miata name in 2022. The 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata model is available in the US for a starting price of $27,650, with a number of special trim options available.

It doesn’t look like Mazda is ready to drop the Miata name anytime soon. In fact, it’s a significant branding advantage for them.

Dropping the Miata name would not go down well with Mazda enthusiasts in America. The vehicle has attracted a cult following of restorers, racers and casual drivers alike.

As Mazda continues to produce new Miatas in the US – and even looks to electrify the series – the Miata name has grown stronger than ever.

What does ‘Miata is always the answer’ mean?

‘Miata is always the answer’ is a phrase used in response to people asking what car they should buy. It reflects the belief that the Mazda Miata is the perfect car for any application, and that everybody should own one.

Did you know that Miata is an initialism for ‘Miata is always the answer’?

M (Miata) I (Is) A (Always) T (The) A (Answer)

This phrase has become popular among MX-5 enthusiasts as a meme, but you might have been left wondering what it actually means.

The Miata has a bonafide cult following. Owners and admirers like to recommend the MX-5 Miata to anyone who is looking for a new car to purchase.

There’s a good reason for it, too. The MX-5 Miata is super reliable. It’s also a real head-turner.

So the next time your aunt is looking to purchase a new grocery fetcher, you know what to do. Whether you need a daily driver, a cheap runabout or a new project car, you guessed it – Miata is always the answer.

Final thoughts

The Miata has been updated and upgraded throughout its lifetime on the road. 

Despite its issues (like rusty MX-5s), it is still one of the best-selling convertibles on the automotive market today. 

There are countless reasons why the Mazda MX-5 Miata is so beloved. There are far too many to fit inside of this blog post.

The Miata continues to be the high-calibre vehicle that we know and love. 

With the Miata, it’s always been less about the tech and more about the driving experience.

If you’re looking for an exhilarating vehicle that will make you smile every time you get behind the wheel, look no further than the Miata.

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