Sporty/performance car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door convertible
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $4,000 – $11,000*

2002 Mazda Miata Special Edition

2000 Mazda Miata LS

2000 Mazda Miata interior

2000 Mazda Miata LS

2002 Mazda Miata Special Edition

  • Acceleration
  • Fuel economy
  • Steering/handling
  • Cargo room
  • Entry/exit
  • Noise

Especially in base form, the Miata represents greater value than, say, a Toyota MR2 Spyder–partly due to its greater cargo capacity, which makes it a more practical driver. On the fun-per-dollar scale, a Miata is unmatched.


Mazda had triggered a “roadster revolution” when it introduced a rear-drive sports car named Miata, as an early 1990 model. A decade later, the Miata was redesigned, though its basic shape changed little. Dimensions were nearly identical to the prior model, but the Miata offered more trunk space. Exposed headlamps replaced the former flip-up units. Inside were a new instrument panel, three-spoke steering wheel, and standard CD player.

Powered by a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine, the Miata could have a 5-speed manual or optional 4-speed automatic transmission. Horsepower went up by 7, torque by 5 lb-ft. A 6-speed manual gearbox became available on the 10th anniversary model.

Tire sizes were unchanged. Four-wheel disc brakes were standard, with antilocking an option. The manual-folding soft top now contained a defrosting glass rear window, and a removable plastic hardtop was optional. A road-racing Sports Package was available as an option.

Rivals included the BMW Z3 series, as well as the forthcoming Honda S2000 and Toyota MR2 Spyder. Some people consider the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, and Ford Mustang to be competitors as well, though they’re of a different breed.

Yearly Updates

2000 Miata
A new uplevel LS model joined the 2000 lineup, featuring leather upholstery, power locks, cruise control, 15-inch wheels (instead of 14-inch), and a limited-slip differential. Some previously optional equipment became standard this year, including alloy wheels, power steering, power windows, and a leather-wrapped Nardi steering wheel. Antilock braking was optional only on the LS edition. No 6-speed models were available this year, but lower-body aero styling from the previous year’s anniversary car was a new option.
2001 Miata
Mazda asserted that the Miata’s engine gained 15 horsepower this year, but that claim was later squelched after tests showed a figure of 142 hp. Base models switched from 14- to 15-inch tires, the front fascia was restyled, and the interior was revised. Seats were redone, with a new console and chrome gauge bezels.
Brake modifications aimed at improved stopping power, while chassis revisions were introduced to increase rigidity. For the first time, 16-inch tires were available–standard on the LS edition.
2002 Miata
Little changed for 2002, except for a newly optional in-dash 6-disc CD changer. As before, the Miata had a manual-folding soft top with a heated glass rear window, and a removable hardtop was available. ABS was optional only on the LS model, which could also have a 6-speed manual gearbox. Base Miatas could be fitted with 16-inch tires, which were standard on the LS.
Appearance packages included rear mud guards and more pronounced side sills. Two special-edition models were launched in midseason, first seen at the Chicago Auto Show.
2003 Miata
Base versions of Mazda’s 2-seat sports car exchanged standard 15-inch wheels for 16s. Introduced in late spring were the Club Sport, which deleted air conditioning and power steering and was aimed at racing enthusiasts; the Shinsen Version that slotted between the base and LS; and the new top-line SE with unique trim.
2004 Miata
Mazda’s sports car received only minor styling revisions in 2004.
2005 Miata
New for 2005 is the MazdaSpeed Grand Touring, which adds leather upholstery.


longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

Mazda’s dual-overhead-cam, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine produced 140 horsepower until 2001, when it got a boost to 142–not 155, as early announcements stated. A five-speed manual transmission was standard, with 4-speed automatic optional. A 6-speed manual gearbox could go into the LS edition.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/112
Engine HP 140-142
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 119-125
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
6-speed manual

Road Test

In its modestly modified form, the Miata preserved its original fun-to-drive nature while adding a little muscle. Quite simply, Miatas represent front-engine sports-car tradition–in contrast to the Toyota MR2 Spyder, introduced for 2000, which is a midengine model. Both are terrific fun to drive. Mazda offers more cargo space, as well as brisk performance–especially at low speeds and when passing. An early example accelerated to 60 mph in about 8 seconds.

There seems to be no great difference in performance between the 5- and 6-speed manual transmission, but automatic-equipped Miatas are not nearly so responsive. As for economy, an early 5-speed model yielded 25.8 mpg.

Road, wind, and engine noise are prominent, but normal conversation is possible at 60 mph with the top down. Stopping power is strong and easily modulated. Over rippled pavement, some body flex and cowl shake is inevitable.

Handling is sheer delight–reflexes razor-sharp, with steering a model of accuracy. Stability on straightaways and in turns was improved. Factory-type tires, on the other hand, furnish poor traction on snow-covered pavement. Good winter tires are a far better choice.

Though not quite as spacious inside as the MR2, the Miata offers decent room for two medium-size adults, though six-footers have no excess of leg space. Entry/exit is a matter of bending and twisting, as in most true sports cars. The console lid release is hard to reach, and its cover must be open to use the poorly designed cupholders.

Small windows hamper visibility, but the defrosting glass back window is welcome. The trunk holds a couple of soft overnight bags. Workmanship is good, using quality materials and tight assembly.


Model Tested: 2001 Mazda Miata

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 5
Fuel Economy - 7
Ride Quality - 3
Steering/Handling - 8
Quietness - 2


Controls/Materials - 8
Room/Comfort Front - 4
Room/Comfort Rear - 0
Cargo Room - 1


Value - 6

Total: 44


2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
89.2 155.7 66.0 48.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
5.1 12.7 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.1 42.7
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Cruise control
Description: The cruise control may not hold steady (varying upward), or the decel feature may not work due to failed transistors in the control unit. (1999)
Engine noise
Description: The bearing caps on some early production 1.8-L engines may not have been machined properly, causing a rattling noise from the engine requiring a new block. (1999)
Exhaust system
Description: Muffler may rattle because the inner shell vibrates and a countermeasure muffler has been released with padding between the parts. (1999)
Cigarette lighter
Description: The cigarette lighter can be easily damaged if an accessory with the wrong-size plug is installed in the outlet. (1999-01)

Recall History

Description: Fog lights may have been installed improperly, and they may fall down into the bumper, causing it to burn. Dealer will inspect and replace all affected parts.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.