They should have bought the manual.
There are certain cars that should always be equipped with manual transmissions. The Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of them. Its Fiat 124 Spider corporate cousin also counts. Automatic transmissions are still offered in both roadsters because there's enough demand, which is kind of shameful. And now that shame comes with a price.
A total of 14,370 Miatas from the 2016-2019 model years and 8,933 124 Spiders from 2017-2019 are being recalled because their transmissions could suddenly downshift without warning, resulting in deceleration. The automakers fear this could also result in a crash. The problem has been traced to incorrect programming for the transmission control module.
Fortunately, no related crashes or injuries are known and the automakers very much want to avoid them entirely. Affected owners will soon be notified by the companies to bring their vehicles to a dealership where technicians will update the transmission software at no cost. This update will simply overwrite the old code and ensure these unwanted downshifts won't happen.
Buyers for both roadsters have a choice between a standard six-speed manual and an optional six-speed automatic. A precise breakdown regarding the number of buyers who prefer one gearbox to the other is not available, but we've asked Mazda in the past and we were told most opt for the manual. The 124 Spider, however, is a bit different.
While both models are built alongside each other in Hiroshima, Japan, Fiat buyers often prefer a somewhat more refined ride better suited for cruising, hence their preference for the automatic. The 124 Spider also has a different engine, a 1.4-liter inline-four supplied by Fiat whereas the MX-5 only comes with a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter SkyActiv inline-four. But the lesson here is quite obvious: always get a manual when buying a Miata. Probably not a bad idea for the 124 Spider, too.