Sporty/performance car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door convertible
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,100 – $24,200*

2006 Mazda MX-5

2006 Mazda MX-5

2006 Mazda MX-5

2006 Mazda MX-5

  • Acceleration
  • Control layout/ materials
  • Steering/handling
  • Brake performance
  • Cargo room
  • Noise
  • Passenger room and comfort
  • Ride

For better or worse, Mazda’s 2006 redesign traded a little bit of this two-seater’s lithe nature for a more masculine bearing. In the bargain, it gained power and safety features at new-car prices starting well below the prior version. As always, the current MX-5 delivers as much driving pleasure–if not outright power–as two-seat sports cars costing thousands more. Mazda manages to combine open-air fun with surprising practicality, including a remarkably well-engineered retractable hardtop. Beware, though: Strong resale values keep secondhand prices high.


Mazda redesigned its popular two-door sports car for 2006, but retained four-cylinder power and the general design that had helped make Miata the best-selling two-passenger convertible in the world. The U.S. version of this third-generation Miata adopted the MX-5 model name, as used on the car in other markets since its 1990 introduction.

Compared to the 1999-2005 Miata, the rear-wheel-drive MX-5 was longer by 2.5 inches in wheelbase and 1.6 inches overall, and was 1.7 inches wider. Base curb weight increased by about 50 pounds. Sole engine remained a four-cylinder, but it was a 170 horsepower, 2.0-liter, in place of a 1.8-liter that produced 142 horsepower.

MX-5 came in six models: Club Spec, base, Touring, Sport, Grand Touring, and 3rd-Generation Limited. A manual transmission was standard: five-speed on Club Spec, base, and Touring, but six-speed on the others. Optional on Touring, Sport, and Grand Touring models was a six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel shift paddles; Miata’s previous automatic had been a four-speed.

Side airbags designed to protect both head and torso were standard; So were antilock four-wheel disc brakes. Traction control, antiskid system, and sport suspension were available.

MX-5 came with a manual-folding soft top, with a heated glass rear window; a removable hardtop was optional. Sport, Grand Touring, and 3rd-Generation Limited have 17-inch wheels; others were 16-inch. The 3rd-Generation Limited came with a sport suspension, satellite radio, xenon headlights, and special trim. Mazda had few true competitors for the MX-5, apart from the more costly Honda S2000 and the new Pontiac Solstice–plus its coming-soon 2007 counterpart, the new Saturn Sky.

Yearly Updates

2007 MX-5
Retractable-hardtop versions of Mazda’s sports car became available for 2007. The solid roof opened or closed in 12 seconds and stole no luggage space, though it added 77 pounds to the car’s weight. Mazda continued to offer a removable hardtop for soft-top models. This year’s lineup included the SV (soft-top only), along with Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring models, each of which could have either a fabric top or the new retractable hardtop. Mazda’s four-cylinder engine made 170 horsepower with a manual gearbox, but 166 hp with an automatic transmission. SV and Sport models had a five-speed manual; others, six-speed. All but the SV could have the six-speed automatic with paddle shifters.
2008 MX-5 Miata
The 2008 Mazda MX-5, also known as the Miata, was largely unchanged.
2009 MX-5 Miata
The MX-5 Miata received a revised grille as part of a mild styling update.
2010 MX-5 Miata
The 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata was largely unchanged.
2011 MX-5 Miata
The 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata saw no major changes.
2012 MX-5 Miata
There were no noteworthy changes to the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata.
2013 MX-5 Miata
For 2013, Mazda replaced the mid-line Touring model with a new Club variant. Club was a sporty trim level that added a sport suspension, 17-inch wheels (base Sports had 16s), and a limited-slip differential (manual-transmission models only).
2014 MX-5 Miata
The MX-5 Miata was unchanged for 2014.


longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

All MX-5 models used a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which made 170 horsepower with the standard manual shift and 166 hp with an automatic transmission. In 2006, a five-speed manual was standard on Club Spec, base, and Touring; six-speed on the others. For 2007, SV and Sport models got the five-speed; others kept the six-speed manual. Available for all except the SV, the six-speed automatic included paddle shifters.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 166-170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 140
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic

Road Test

Acceleration is brisk from all speeds, with satisfying low-rpm response. Mazda’s six-speed manual transmission has short throws, but must be shifted with authority. The responsive automatic transmission boasts user-friendly paddle shifts, and blunts power only slightly.

Fuel economy also is appealing. Test MX-5s averaged 21.3 to 23.8 mpg with a six-speed manual transmission, and 23.4 mpg with automatic. Mazda recommends premium-grade fuel for the MX-5.

Ride comfort is appropriately firm with the base suspension, but not uncomfortable. Frequent choppy motions occur on uneven pavement, bordering on harshness, with the less-compliant combination of Suspension Package and 17-inch tires. The Club’s sport suspension was also optional for Grand Touring models. unfortunately the stiff set up made the ride choppy and brittle.

Steering is rewardingly quick and precise, though some testers find it unnecessarily heavy at low to moderate speeds. With 17-inch tires, sharp bumps trigger steering deflection, detracting from control and straightline tracking. An MX-5 easily conquers corners and exhibits little lean, though some testers say the tail tends to swing wide too early in fast turns. The added weight of the retractable hardtop isn’t noticeable. Expect fine stopping power and control.

Road noise is prominent with the top up, accompanied by marked tire thrum. With the top down, normal conversation is easy at 60 mph. Mazda’s engine has a nice performance tone. The exhaust note trumpets sports-car personality, but some testers considered both sounds too loud and tiresome. Hardtop models suffer less wind and traffic noise.

Gauges are clearly marked and easy to read, and controls are well placed. Hard plastic surfaces dominate the interior, but don’t look cheap. Club models include a body-color panel on the dashboard that lends an extra bit of sportiness. Available leather trim, standard in the Grand Touring model, dresses up the cockpit.

Drivers well over six feet tall may long for more leg room, and also feel confined with the top up. Those under five-foot-six or so may have trouble seeing over the high instrument panel. Most occupants are likely to complain of intrusion from the unpadded cupholders molded into front door panels. Seats support well in turns, but seem thin on padding. Top-up blind spots hinder lane changes. The fabric top lowers easily, but weight and construction make raising it while seated a little awkward for some users. The retractable hardtop lowers at the touch of a single button.

Careful packing is needed to squeeze much luggage into the small trunk. In-cabin storage space is minimal, too. A secondary set of cupholders, located in the center console, may interfere with the gearshift when in use.


Model Tested: Mazda MX-5 Sport w/manual and susp. pkg.

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 - 6
Fuel Economy - 6
Ride Quality - 3
Steering/Handling - 9
Quietness - 2


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 3
Room/Comfort Rear - 0
Cargo Room - 2


Value - 10

Total: 48


2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
91.7 157.3 67.7 49.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
5.3 12.7 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.4 43.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2006 Not tested 2-door convertible


(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

Brake noise
Description: Front brake squeal on light applications is fixed by installing a revised brake pad guide. (2006-07)
Description: Clutch pedal may squeak due to the type of plastic used for the starter interlock switch. (2006)
Description: In hot weather (over 85 degrees F), the clutch may have excessive free play and may not disengage fully. (2006-07)
Heater core
Description: The heater may not work properly if the car is parked nose down on a steep grade because an air pocket forms in the heater core requiring a redesigned hose between the radiator tank and thermostat. (2006)
Keyless entry
Description: The retractable style remote keyless entry (RKE) does not work and the LED does not glow due to poor contact in the battery compartment. (2007-09)
Audio system
Description: Poor radio reception on the AM band most likely due to static electricity discharge damaging the AM signal amplifier at the antenna. (2006-07)
Tire wear
Description: If aftermarket tire valve caps made of brass, or having brass threaded inserts, are used they can seize to the stem of the tire pressure monitoring system valve and cause breakage. (2006-07)
Water leak
Description: Water leaks onto the floor due to clogged convertible top drains. (2006-07)
Convertible top
Description: The convertible top on some early production cars may leak from the front and/or may interfere with the molding while lowering. (2006)
Check-engine light
Description: The check engine light may glow and a trouble code P0455 may be stored unless the fuel filler pipe is replaced. (2006-07)

Recall History

Description: In extremely low ambient temperature, bolt attaching horn assembly to steering wheel may fail during driver’s airbag deployment, and horn assembly could separate.

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.