Why Is The Miata So Slow?

The Mazda Miata (or MX-5 as it is known in many other parts of the world) has never been famed for being a particularly quick car.

In fact, it is generally seen as being a “slow” car when compared to many other vehicles that a Miata purchaser might be looking to buy.

So why is the Mazda Miata so slow?’

In this short article we address the topic of Miata “slowness” and where this reputation has come from.

How Fast Is The Miata?

To answer this question, we first need to look at how fast the Miata is.

Most readers of this site are probably looking at an NA Miata (based on the feedback and readership we get) which basically means you are looking at 8-10 seconds 0-60, depending on exactly what specifications your vehicle has and how aggressively you launch it.

By modern standards, that isn’t quick – we accept that. A 2019 Toyota Corolla base spec with a CVT transmission is at least as quick (at 8.5 seconds) and that comes with three more seats, huge amounts of extra equipment, and two more doors!

Perspective Matters

However, it’s also important to consider the speed of the Miata in the context of the time.

In the early 90s when the Miata/MX-5 burst on the scene, cars in general were a lot slower.

Sure, there were fast vehicles you could buy, but the “average” vehicle was nowhere near as quick as it is today (consider that many modern, everyday family sedans and hatchbacks are now putting out acceleration figures that make performance vehicles from 20 years ago blush).

While the Miata (especially the NA) was never considered a fast car in terms of pure acceleration and speed capability, for something that is 30 years old in terms of design and technology it is still respectable.

Even by today’s standards, you aren’t going to be left unable to pass on the highway or pull away at the traffic lights.

Mrs Smith next door might be able to burn you off in her 7 seat crossover, but it’s not like the Miata is a car from the 60s or 70s, where 0-60 times were commonly in the teens and even into the 20s!

At Garage Dreams, we believe perspective is required when considering classic vehicles. Considered in the context of the time, the Miata is respectably quick.

It’s Not All About Speed

You cannot examine the question “why is the Miata so slow” without considering the following point:

It doesn’t matter that the Miata is relatively slow in a straight line. They were built for cornering prowess, driving enjoyment and sheer fun.

In fact, the reason that the “Miata is always the answer” is partly due to its slower nature.

Modern, powerful cars are – in some respects – too fast.

The author recalls driving an E63 AMG Mercedes (with the later, twin turbo v8 engine).

Supercars from a decade ago would be shown up by this four door, practical, comfortable monster.

But there is a problem – cars like this are so ludicrously fast that you can never really open the taps on the public roads without endangering yourself, your passengers, and your fellow road users, as well as risking the attention (and ticketing power) of your local constabulary!

A simple overtaking manoeuvre in a car such as the E63 AMG can take you from legal speeds to “I need to hire a criminal defence lawyer” faster than you can say ‘my foot just slipped’ to the arresting officer.

Big power is fun, but it is also limiting. You’ll never get to push a vehicle like that to the limit on a public road without breaking the law, and ramping up the risk.

A Miata, on the other hand? This is where the “slowness” becomes a blessing, and not a curse.

As we mentioned above, Miatas are built to glide from corner to corner. Because they are also fairly low on power, you are able to rev them high and drive them hard without going at licence-losing speeds, and without being such a risk to yourself and other road users.

Look at any discussion online about Miatas/MX-5s and almost every owner will report this particular aspect of the driving experience as one of their favorite.

Okay, you will probably not be winning many “traffic light GPs”. But you will forget all of that when you are able to take your Miata to the limit on a nice twisty bit of road, all while doing it at a (relatively) safe pace!

We are firm believers that it is more enjoyable to drive a slower car towards its limit, than it is to be able to only tap a fraction of the capability of a much faster vehicle.

If you have access to a track, or a private road, or an Autobahn system, then your mileage may vary.

However, in the real world (with speed cameras, fellow motorists, and no sand traps on the side of the road) you will almost certainly have more fun in a Miata than you would in many vehicles with five times the power.


So why is the Miata so slow?

The answer to this question is really “who cares”.

If you want a Miata/MX-5 and really are bothered by the acceleration, there are a plethora of mods you can make (from turbocharging, to dropping in totally different engines).

However, if you consider the Miata in the context of the time it actually isn’t all that slow. And when you factor in that these cars were “built for fun, not for fast” the acceleration anxiety just melts away!

Make sure you read our Miata/MX-5 buyer’s guide for more information on how to grab yourself a great example at an even better price!


  • Sam

    Sam focuses mainly on researching and writing the growing database of Car Facts articles on Garage Dreams, as well as creating interesting list content. He is particularly enthusiastic about JDM cars, although has also owned numerous European vehicles in the past. Currently drives a 3rd generation Suzuki Swift Sport, and a Volkswagen Touareg (mainly kept for taking his border collie out to the hills to go walking)

3 thoughts on “Why Is The Miata So Slow?”

  1. I’ve been driving a 93 Miata LE for 22 years. I can push this car flat out all day and every day, laughing all the way and never get a ticket. It is an absolute RIOT to drive hard. My 13 Focus ST? Nope, not nearly as much fun, despite beating the Miata in every measurable category, except ‘smiles per mile’. There is the difference.

  2. People love their cars. I get it.

    With that in mind, I can’t stand the fact that to drive with the freeway, I need to rev the engine up from 45 (in sixth gear) to 70ish (in sixth gear) which makes me watch both redline and makes me worry about my already failing hearing.

    True believers will say “use earplugs” and that’s a valid choice for many; but for all of us who live in places like Texas, where everything is flat and far away, we want our zippy little sports cars too!


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