10 Coolest Mazda Sports Cars, Ranked

The Japanese automotive industry is one of the largest and most competitive industries globally, and it is currently ranked as the third-largest manufacturer and exporter. Through this healthy competition, Mazda has grown into one of the most innovative and relentlessly consistent automakers in the last five decades. Although Mazda’s history as an automaker began with the 1931 Mazda-Go Type-DA three-wheeled truck, the fun-to-drive sports cars have been integral to its long-standing heritage.

Related: The Mazda Miata Mono-Posto Concept Could Have Been A Fun Production Car

Over the years, Mazda has produced incredible best-selling sports cars with a unique blend of cutting-edge technology, lightweight materials, remarkable driving dynamics, and economical engine technology at relatively affordable prices. With Mazda’s impending conversion of its lineup to electric power, we look through its rich history and attempt to rank some of its coolest sports cars so far.

11 Mazda RX-3

Called the Mazda Savanna in the Japanese market, the RX-3 was a paradox of a car, revered as an exotic road rocket despite the relative lack of sophistication. Although Mazda had enjoyed success developing the Wankel engine in previous models, the RX-3 cemented Mazda’s association with the revolutionary engine to become the most-selling Mazda rotary in the 1970s.

Throughout its lifetime, the RX-3 featured the longitudinally front-mounted 10A engine with 109 hp, the 12A capable of 125 hp, and the 12B that delivers 130 hp. Besides helping to put Mazda on the map, the RX-3 paved the way for future RX-badged models by capturing enthusiasts’ hearts with unique tunability, a fulfilling driving experience on the road, and surprising track capabilities.

10 Mazda MX-3

The stylish and fun Mazda MX-3 arrived during the golden age for Japanese sports coupes, hot on the heels of the original MX-5 Miata, a redesigned MX-6, and the legendary FD-generation RX-7. The MX-3 is almost always forgotten in the shadows of its more popular stablemates, but the abundance of tech in this classic minimalist coupe is worth remembering.

Related: Here’s What Makes The Mazda MX-3 A Classic

Under the hood lies the MX-3’s most significant hallmark, the 130hp 1.8-liter K8-DE V-6 equipped with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection and pent-proof combustion chambers. Additionally, the MX-3 boasted clever tech such as the Variable Resonance Induction System (VRIS) engineered to bolster the torque curve, Twin Trapezoidal Link (TTL) rear suspension system, variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, and ABS.

9 Mazda MX-6

Released in 1987 essentially as a two-door Mazda 626, the MX-6 is a JDM underdog that generally remains unappreciated to date. The second-generation model made a statement and is the most desirable iteration, flaunting a rounder, sleeker, and surprisingly aggressive design ahead of its time.

Mazda upgraded the MX-6 engine from a 145hp 2.2-liter F2T turbocharged four-cylinder engine at debut to a more potent 200hp 2.5-liter KL-ZE V-6 final years. With an exciting blend of a lightweight chassis, four-wheel steering, and a punchy engine presented in an affordable package, the MX-6 is a driver’s car that justifies a spot as one of Mazda’s best offerings.

8 Mazda 323 GT-R

Japanese automakers had succumbed to the rally bug in the 1980s and ’90s, and Mazda was unwilling to stop proving itself in rally racing. After failures with a front-wheel drive Group A 323 and a rear-wheel drive Group B RX-7, the 4WD 323 GT-R hatchback was Mazda’s attempt at redemption. Unfortunately, Mazda had limited podium finishes with the 323 GT-R campaign, but at least enthusiasts enjoyed the homologation specials.

Mazda enhanced the 323 GT-R over the GTX model with an aggressive rally body kit, stiffer suspension, anti-roll bars with thicker cross members, remote-controlled central locks, larger brakes, and a three-spoke MOMO steering wheel. Under the hood, Mazda nestled a transverse 1.8-liter DOHC turbocharged inline-four capable of 207hp and 184lb-ft of torque.

7 Mazdaspeed 6

The Mazdaspeed 6 is the high-performance iteration of the standard Mazda 6 sedan, badged as the Mazdaspeed Atenza in the Japanese domestic market. The subtle styling cues of the Mazdaspeed 6 made it the perfect alternative for gearheads put off by the hardcore attitude and boy-racer styling found on the Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

Related: These Are The Best Features Of The 2002 Mazda 626

The Mazdaspeed 6 houses a 2.3-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder with direct injection, mated to a six-speed manual transmission to churn out 274hp and 280lb-ft of torque. The sports sedan scaled new heights in performance and handling with a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system, standard stability, a limited-slip rear differential, and a tightened suspension.

6 Mazda RX-8

The Mazda RX-8 debuted after the golden age of the Japanese automotive industry to replace the beloved RX-7, bringing the Wankel rotary engine back to the mainstream. Mazda designed the RX-8 as a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive, four-door quad coupe with a near 50:50 weight distribution, multi-link rear suspension, and a double-wishbone front suspension.

Mazda engineers replaced the twin turbos from the RX-7’s 13B powerplant with natural aspiration for the RX-8, creating the 1.3-liter RENESIS with output ranging from 189hp to 237hp depending on the market and iteration. Despite being underpowered compared to its predecessor, the RX-8 was a revving masterpiece with impeccable driving dynamics, outstanding performance capabilities, motorsport prowess, and surprising practicality.

5 Mazdaspeed 3

When the Mazdaspeed 3 debuted in 2006, its impressive performance figures and remarkable practicality made it one of the hottest hatches. Based on the five-door version of the Mazda 3, the high-spec Mazdaspeed 3 featured a stiffer chassis, a GKN limited-slip differential, sport-tuned suspension, anti-lock brakes, dynamic stability control, and traction control.

The Mazdaspeed 3 features a 263hp 2.3-liter DISI turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a six-speed manual that routes power to the front wheels. Despite the minimal design transition from the standard Mazda 3, the Mazdaspeed 3 was an understated performance car that grew into a cult classic.

4 Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S

The Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S is a cool-looking novelty, the world’s first volume production sports car to feature a two-rotor rotary engine. The Cosmo Sport symbolized Mazda’s breakthrough with the rotary engine development, ushering in a legendary streak of sports cars with prominent street presence and undeniable success in motorsport.

Related: Here’s What Everyone’s Forgotten About The Mazda Cosmo

The 0.98-liter Wankel engine under the hood produced 108.5hp, allowing the Cosmo Sport 110S to achieve a top speed of 114mph. Today, the Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S is one of the rarest and most sought-after JDM cars, considering it was the only sports car of its kind from the 1960s.

3 Mazda MX-5 Miata

From Mazda’s rich sports car lineup, none embodies its revolutionary ‘Jinba Ittai’ (horse and rider as one) car-making philosophy better than the MX-5 Miata. Through its consistency in offering drop-top driving fun, simplicity, and flexibility, the lightweight Miata has stamped an unmatched admiration to become the best-selling roadster of all time.

From the NA to the latest ND iteration, the MX-5 Miata remained spiritually unchanged with the same rear-wheel drive configuration, inline-four powertrains, two seats fitted between the axles, and marketed within affordable price points. Furthermore, the class-leading reliability makes the MX-5 Miata a sports car that will run forever with the proper maintenance.


1 Mazda RX-7

The RX-7 was Mazda’s first mass-market sports car, the child of a high-risk strategy that made it the best-selling rotary-powered vehicle in history. From its debut in 1978, the RX-7 embodied everything that defined Mazda’s sports car DNA; a lightweight design, the legendary rotary engine, and endless driving joy.

Mazda produced the RX-7 over three generations, fitting the sports car with different rotary engine iterations such as the 105hp 12A, 115hp 12A, 160hp 12A turbo, and the 135hp 13B. Besides dominance on the street, the RX-7 defined pop culture and propelled Mazda to unprecedented racetrack success, making it the best and most iconic Mazda sports car of all time.