JDM Mazda MX-5 Miata Updated

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Mazda’s iconic roadster has undergone some changes in Japan for the 2024 model year that should likewise underpin the variant slated for our market. While some of this pertains to updated safety tech few MX-5 owners are likely to care about, there are also a host of mechanical upgrades that should actually make it a better performance machine.

The Japanese-market Miata (pictured) has been given an asymmetric limited-slip differential the brand says will make the vehicle handle more predictably in the corners. Mazda said the unit helps to mitigate liftoff oversteer while likewise creating more progressive turn-in characteristics. It should also help keep the car planted when chucked hard into sharp, low-speed turns. The differential is only planned to be added to models equipped with the manual transmission, however.

Stick-shift Miatas will likewise feature a new track setting that is supposed to keep electronic stability control off until the absolute last second. The vehicle allegedly won’t intervene until the computer assumes the driver can no longer recover from a slide. Truthfully, this doesn’t sound all that different from what the current Miata does when you “turn off” ESC — making it sound like Mazda has just made the existing system a little less invasive.

Meanwhile, every version of the car is supposed to come with a revised electric power steering system designed to feel more natural with better feedback.

Drive-by-wire can definitely help isolate drivers from unpleasant vibrations and harshness. But they’re simultaneously hated by driving enthusiasts due to a lack of feedback, making an otherwise sharp car feel vague and difficult to trust near the limit. While it’s been a while since I’ve wiggled my way inside the cockpit of an MX-5, steering never felt like much of an issue. Hopefully, the above just means Mazda’s update has improved feedback while retaining the little car’s already excellent responsiveness.

Japanese Miatas are getting more horsepower from the 1.5-liter motor that’s not available here. But the 181-horsepower Skyactiv-G 2.0 we do receive is only supposed to have undergone some light tuning. Though Mazda’s biggest effort seems to have gone into making it sound better from inside the cabin.

There is probably a subset of enthusiasts that will be irritated the manufacturer hasn't prioritized an increase in power on the larger motor. We know Mazda likes to prioritize reliability. But a little bit would have gone a long way here.

Still, this is a vehicle that doesn't even weigh 2,500 pounds until you've crammed at least one person inside the cabin. The whole experience is predicated on the model leveraging its light weight to maximize driving dynamics and there's not much else on the market operating under a similar mindset beyond the Toyota GR86 or Subaru BRZ (both of which are still heavier than the Miata, albeit with better power figures).

Exterior styling appears to be no different from the previous model year, save for the inclusion of LED illumination just about everywhere and some new wheel designs. The brand also ended up relocating the daytime running lights away from the fog lamps. But, unless you’re particularly eagle-eyed and catching it after sundown, the 2024 Mazda MX-5 should be borderline indistinguishable from the 2023 model year.

The rest of the changes pertain to safety and are not likely to concern the average Miata consumer. While the brand has long sought to prioritize safety through sound construction and designs that encourage drivers to remain engaged and undistracted from the task of driving, Mazda has added a radar sensor on the left side of the grille that permits adaptive cruise control and upgraded its rearward sensing capabilities to incorporate automatic braking when reversing toward a moving vehicle.

Neither of those will be game changers for would-be buyers. But they will allow the company to avoid getting dinged quite so badly by overzealous safety reviewers for not having every novel electronic nanny present.

Other changes pertained to the larger infotainment screen (now 8.8 inches) and some new color options. Japan is getting Aero Gray Metallic paint and previewed the updated Miata in that hue in some of its press materials.

While we don’t know if every single item will migrate to the United States, odds are good that most of it will. Unfortunately, everyone seems to think that this will result in a pricier automobile.

Considering the vehicle currently starts around $28,000 before destination, that could very easily bring the MSRP above $30,000.

[Images: Mazda]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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2 of 9 comments
  • El scotto El scotto on Oct 06, 2023

    Mea Culpa; some of your taller friends may not fit in a Miata and some of your exercise-adverse friends might not fit either.b

  • Theflyersfan Theflyersfan on Oct 09, 2023

    Mazda...please say the better infotainment screen and software can be retrofitted to current MX-5s. If so, take my money now. I love mine, but Android Auto lag and connectivity sometimes borders on the comical. Twist the knob to move between music selections, count to five, ah, there it goes! I've driven enough 2023 rentals/loaners lately, and it's nice having AA fire up in fewer than 5 seconds instead of 30-45 seconds (minimum and if it connects the first time.)

    Besides REALLY hoping and praying for a Mazdaspeed version (which we all know now will never be released even though they have the engine in the stable), there's one last edition I hope they come out with before the NE is released and possibly changes the entire MX-5 formula forever. Remember the old "M" editions in the NA and NB models? I recall it came with that stunning British Racing Green paint, saddle leather, wood shift knob and trim, better stereo, and a few other odds and ends. This ND2/3 model would just look amazing in that color. I recall a special edition near the end of the NB run that came with this drop dead nice deep blue paint and this silver/gray leather that also was a keeper. With the exception of the 30th anniversary (God I feel old now...) edition, there hasn't been any other special editions of the ND. And I loved that orange paint. It's like any other crazy sports car - if you're going to drive something so extroverted, might as well have a color that stands out! That's what I like about what Audi does with their S/RS models - leave the plain (or drab) colors for the regular models and give their hot models a bright color selection.

    Or, Mazda, if you want to give us the ultimate going away present for the ND generation, let your engine engineers loose on that motor, and ask them to come up with a current generation S2000-like model with at least an 8,500 rpm redline, upgraded internals to handle the strain, if possible, rip more weight out if it, and set it loose for just one model year. With the ND2's redline at 7,500, you're almost there. Just give us a little more, combined with an exhaust that lets it sing and scream at the same time, and there will be a waiting list.

  • Lou_BC Question of the day: Anyone actually care to own an old TVR?
  • Bd2 First, this was totally predictable. 2nd, Genesis already does have hybrids in the form of a 48V mild hybrid, but more performance oriented (supercharged and turbocharged), so not really helping with regard to fuel consumption. 3rd, Hyundai's hybrid systems don't really help as there currently isn't one that would be suitable power-wise and the upcoming 2.5T hybrid system would have to be heavily reworked to accommodate a RWD/longitudinal layout. 4th, it seems that Genesis is opting to go the EREV route with the GV70 the first get the new powertrain.
  • Bd2 Jaguar's problem was chasing the Germans into the mid size and then entry-level/compact segments for volume, and cheapening their interiors while at it.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Aja8888 I expected that issue with my F150 starting at 52,000mi. luckily I had an extended warranty and it saved me almost $8,000. No more Fords for me, only Toyota.
  • Lou_BC I saw a news article on this got a different read on it. Ford wants to increase production of HD trucks AND develop hybrid and EV variants of the SuperDuty. They aren't scaling back EV production. Just building more HD's and EV variants of HD's .