According to Mazda, the manual isn't dead yet.
Automakers are having a really tough time selling manual transmissions in 2019. Only 1 in every 100 Toyota Corollas sold in the United States has a manual and even with a sports car like the 86, only 1 in 3 comes equipped with a third pedal. Toyota also offers the Tacoma and Yaris with a manual but only around one in 20 is sold with one. Luxury automakers like Genesis aren't doing so well either, with just 4% of four-cylinder G70 models being purchased with a stick shift.
Perhaps only "true enthusiasts" are willing to buy a manual on niche models, which is why Autoblog reached out to Mazda to find out its take rate for the 2019 MX-5 Miata. We also reached out to Mazda to find out take rates for the 3 and 6 and will update the story if we receive any information, but much to our delight, the numbers look pretty good for the Miata.
Mazda's PR program manager Tim Olson says 76% of Miata soft-top buyers opt for the manual, meaning only 24% opt for the soul-crushing six-speed automatic. The automatic transmission is "fine" but a Miata is best enjoyed with the manual and we wouldn't have it any other way. These sales numbers are based on the current 2019 ND2 generation Miata with the 181 horsepower engine, from July 2018 through April 2019.
We are delighted to see around two-thirds of Miata buyers opting for the manual but the take-rate really dies off when looking at the hard-top RF model. During the same period, only 52% of RF buyers opted for the manual while 48% chose the automatic.
This is still a fantastic ratio, especially when you compare the 86's 33% take rate for the manual. We can easily see why more RF buyers would think about opting for the automatic because the hard-top Miata is a slightly better daily driver. Since the RF is more expensive than a base soft-top, buyers may be more willing to shell out another $1,350 to get the automatic.
While these manual sales numbers are particularly strong in 2019, it's worth noting the original Miata had less than a 5% take rate for the automatic. Automatics have evolved lightyears since the original Miata's days and it may not be long before the manual transmission becomes virtually extinct.