Why is the Mazda MX-5 called Miata? The Fascinating Story 

Why is the Mazda MX-5 called Miata

The Mazda MX-5 is one of the most popular and iconic sports cars of all time. Over 1 million units have been produced since its debut in 1989, making it the best selling two-seat convertible in history.

But why is this beloved roadster called the “Miata”? Many owners don’t know the history behind the unique Miata name and its significance.

The name Miata comes from an old German word meaning “reward” or “prize”. Mazda chose this distinctive moniker to represent the feeling of driving the lightweight, affordable roadster.

In this article, we’ll dive into the origins of the Miata name, why Mazda selected it, what Miata means in Japanese, and more about the story behind the MX-5’s memorable title. We’ll also look at why the car is called the MX-5 in Japan but Miata in the rest of the world.

We’ll cover:

  • The definition and meaning behind “Miata”
  • The vintage origins of the Miata name
  • Why Mazda chose “Miata” for the MX-5
  • How Miata translates to Japanese
  • Miata vs MX-5 model names by market
  • And more on this iconic sports car’s unique title

Let’s shift into first gear and learn more about the history of the Mazda Miata name!

What Does “Miata” Mean?

The meaning behind the name Miata gives a hint into why Mazda chose it for the MX-5. Miata has two definitions:

  • Miata is an old High German feminine name meaning “reward” or “prize”. In the German language, Miata conveyed something precious you worked hard to earn.
  • For the MX-5 model, Mazda wanted Miata to represent the feeling of driving the lightweight roadster. The name evokes the rewarding, prize-like experience you get behind the wheel.

By naming it the Miata, Mazda wanted to capture the essence of driving this nimble, open-top sports car. The name reflects the joy and excitement the affordable roadster delivers.

Origins and History of the Miata Name

To understand why the name Miata was chosen, it helps to learn about its origins:

  • Miata derives from the old High German feminine name “miata”. The vintage name dates back over 1,000 years.
  • The name Miata was used in medieval times in Europe. It first emerged in the Middle Ages as a German name.
  • Mazda discovered the old-fashioned name in a book during its search for the perfect moniker. The automaker researched classic names that weren’t already attached to other cars.
  • Eventually Miata was chosen because it was distinctive, short, easy to say globally, and emotionally evocative. The vintage name checked all the boxes.

Digging into the history of the moniker reveals why it was an ideal fit for Mazda’s new lightweight roadster. The old-world name conveyed the driving experience they aimed to deliver.

Why Mazda Picked “Miata” as the Name

By the late 1980s, Mazda wanted a name for its new roadster that would convey the spirit of the vehicle. Here’s why “Miata” was chosen as the winning moniker:

  • Mazda wanted an original, not already used name. Many potential names were already trademarked by other automakers. Miata was short, distinctive and available.
  • The name had to be easy to pronounce globally. Miata was short and rolled off the tongue easily in different languages.
  • Evoked the excitement of driving an affordable, lightweight sports car. Miata encapsulated the emotion and experience of the roadster.
  • Miata stood out from dry alphanumeric model codes. It added personality and warmth lacking in nameplates like “MX-5”.
  • Having a dedicated name allowed marketing to focus on building its identity. This helped establish Miata as an iconic car globally.

Overall, Miata was a perfect match. It was original, memorable, emotionally evocative, and represented the MX-5’s spirit. The name aligned with Mazda’s hopes for its new sports car.

What Miata Means in Japanese

While Miata originated as a German name, Mazda is a Japanese auto company. So how does Miata translate to Japanese?

  • Miata phonetically translates to Japanese roughly as “prize” or “reward”. The meaning fits with Mazda’s goals.
  • In Japanese, Miata evokes the joy and excitement of driving the roadster. The name captures the rewarding, fun experience.
  • Miata encapsulates the MX-5’s Jinba Ittai driving experience philosophy. Jinba Ittai promotes oneness between car and driver.
  • The name reflects the vehicle’s agile handling and lightweight convertible fun. Two things that make driving the Miata a prize-like reward.

So while not strictly a Japanese name, Miata’s meaning translated well. The name aligned with the engaging, responsive driving experience Mazda aimed to create.

“MX-5” vs “Miata” Name by Market

The model code MX-5 is used in the Japanese and Australian markets for the vehicle. But why is it sold as the Miata in other parts of the world?

  • MX-5 is the model code used in Japan and Australia only. It matches the alphanumeric naming scheme popular in those markets.
  • Miata is the market name used for the car in all other global regions. A dedicated name was needed to market and build the model’s identity.
  • Miata was chosen as the global market name for its emotional engagement. MX-5 was seen as too dry and technical to establish the vehicle’s spirit.
  • The Miata name encapsulates the classic, lightweight sports car feeling. It’s more evocative of the driving experience than just using the technical code name.

So the model is called the MX-5 in Japan and Australia, but sold as the Miata everywhere else. The two names essentially refer to the same vehicle. But the Miata name resonates more strongly with buyers worldwide.

In Closing

The vintage name Miata captures the essence of the Mazda MX-5 perfectly. Both names refer to the rewarding, fun driving experience the iconic roadster delivers. But Miata adds an element of emotion and nostalgia that resonates with buyers.

Learning the history behind the Miata name gives insight into Mazda’s goals for the vehicle. The automaker chose the name carefully to represent the spirit of the affordable sports car. For over 30 years, Miata has meant excitement, joy, and the thrill of responsive handling.

So next time you see a Miata fly by with the top down, you’ll know the origins of the name. Miata reflects the prize-like reward every driver feels behind the wheel of this iconic roadster. It’s a name entwined with the history of one of the world’s favorite sports cars.

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