Earlier, we wrote about Toyota's underwhelming 2018 manual transmission sales figures. To recap – as Toyota's representatives told CarBuzz – the automatic Corolla outsold its manual equivalent to a ratio of 100 to 1, and just one in three Toyota 86 buyers picked a manual version of the rear-drive coupe.
What about the other famous rear-wheel-drive offering from Japan, Mazda's MX-5 Miata? A case can be made that an 86 buyer cross-shops the Miata, and vice-versa, but what kind of split do Mazda's sales figures reflect in comparison?
The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary edition made its debut a few months back at this year's Chicago Auto Show. The special model was limited to just 3,000 units worldwide, with just 500 heading to the U.S. Miata enthusiasts were so excited by the car that the entire allotment sold out within four hours. To help satisfy demand for this limited edition model, Mazda is allocating another 143 cars for the American market, bringing the total number of cars heading to the U.S. to 643. Note, Mazda is still only building 3,000 cars total.
The 30th Anniversary Miata is available as both a roadster and the retractable hardtop Miata RF. All of them will be painted Racing Orange and will be fitted with RAYS ZE40 17-inch forged alloy wheels, orange Brembo brake calipers and Recaro seats. The cars also come with a Bose audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The cars still retain the 2019 Miata's updated 2.0-liter inline-four making 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. Cars equipped with the manual transmission get a limited-slip differential, Bilstein shocks and a front shock tower brace.
It's somehow fascinating that one of the most interesting developments of Mazda's MX-5 Miata roadster is the one that isn't a roadster at all. Unlike the NC and ND generations with retractable power hardtops, the second-generation NB Miata got a special coupe version with a fixed roof, done in the style of the first-generation coupe concept. We're talking very limited production numbers: just 179 of these NB coupes were made, and they were all Japanese-market models, so it's not often that one comes up for sale. Except now.
Itself even more of a limited-edition car, this sportier Type S version residing in Hong Kong and advertised on Pistonheads is one of just 63 made. It's right-hand-drive, as both its Japanese market origins and Hong Kong regulations dictate, and out of the available engine variations it comes with the 1840cc unit and a six-speed manual gearbox. What's more, despite its low 30,000 miles, the 2004 fixed-roof Miata is said to be fully overhauled and restored to as-new condition. We can't imagine those coupe-specific parts such as glass and trim are easy to source, so with these extremely rare cars it's probably best to go with the best condition example you can find, if you can find one to begin with. Rust hits all old Miatas at some point. With that backdrop, the £30,000 ($38,700) asking price doesn't seem all that unreasonable. With the Miata's enormous enthusiast base, there are now aftermarket solutions that imitate the flowing lines of the rare factory coupe, but they do lack the strengthening that Mazda's specialty skunkworks shop put in these — and the body-stiffening roof adds a mere 22 pounds to the car's dainty overall weight. For some lucky Miata hobbyist, this particular red coupe might be the crown jewel of their roadster collection.
Remember back in 2014, when Mazda released the 25th Anniversary Mazda MX-5 Miata and it sold out in 10 minutes? Now, just hours ago at the Chicago Auto Show, Mazda opened the books for the 30th Anniversary model — and you guessed right, it's now sold out as well.
This time around, it took four hours, but there's a difference: in 2014, there only were 100 25th Anniversary cars to pre-order, and for the big 3-0, Mazda allocated 500 U.S. cars. We're expecting the 2,500 rest-of-the-world cars will also sell out rather quickly.
For a car with a mischievous grin and penchant for fun, the MX-5 Miata's color palette is on the drab side, but thankfully the 30th Anniversary Edition gets a vivid hue called Racing Orange. Mazda says it "evokes the breaking dawn of an exciting new day," and that it's partly inspired by the bright yellow of the Miata Club Racer concept from 1989. That's all well and good, but it looks to us more like the orange from the 1991 Le Mans-winning Mazda 787B race car. Whatever the reason, we dig the color.
It will be important that the new owners like it, too, because the color is everywhere. It's on the brake calipers, door sills, air vents, stitching and piping. Everything else is a black or charcoal color, including the gorgeous Rays forged aluminum wheels, exclusive to this model, and the Alcantara trim on the dash, doors and seats. All versions of the special Miata come with Recaro seats, Brembo brakes, Bose sound system and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The manual models add a limited-slip differential, Bilstein shocks and a front shock tower brace.
Last month, we reported on a VIN filing dug up by Road & Track that showed that the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata's 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G engine would get a power bump, from 155 to 181 net horsepower. As for how the 2019 Miata would make that extra power, we heard rumors it'd utilize a new cylinder head allowing higher revs, accounting for that extra power. Now we have what appears to be a leaked document from Mazda Canada showing exactly where that extra power comes from.
According to the document posted at Miata.net (registration required to see the image), Mazda will alter camshaft lift and valve size on both the intake and exhaust side, fit freer-flowing exhaust, and smooth and enlarge the piping on the air intake side. There are also internal engine modifications: lighter pistons with lower crowns for better swirl in the combustion chamber, lighter connecting rods, and a crankshaft balanced for higher-RPM operation. All those extra revs mean extra vibration and noise, so Mazda will ditch the single-mass flywheel for a "low-inertia" dual-mass flywheel – which will attempt to find a nice balance between DMF damping action and SMF directness. Overall, it's a pretty serious engine revision with some driveline changes that will heavily affect the driving characteristics of a fantastic driver's car.