No other sports car of the last 25 years has had the same cultural impact as the Mazda Miata. After single-handedly transforming the image of the roadster from oil-leaking, unreliable weekend car to rock-solid dependable daily driver, it sparked a major small sports car revival in the 1990s. Without the Miata, it seems a lot less certain that we would’ve had the BMW Z3, Z4, Porsche Boxster, and Mercedes-Benz CLK either.
Heavy on handling and light on power, the Miata has come to define that old cliché that it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow. But from time to time, Mazda has tried giving its small star a little more go, and the results have been interesting. The car has evolved through four iterations in its 25-year lifespan, each one notably different from the last. But while the car has evolved with the times, it has also remained faithful to the idea of being a driver’s car first and foremost.
Because of its popularity and affordability, the Miata has become the entry-level sports car for an entire generation of drivers. As a result, track days around the world are dominated by the little cars. While they can be easily modified, and benefit from a thriving tuning community, Mazda has also tried its hand at giving its roadster a little extra go from time to time. Here’s a look at 8 noteworthy times that Mazda brought some extra speed to its near-perfect sports car.