Mazda MX-5 Miata
First-Generation MX-5 Miata (Mazda North American Operations)

For sports car shoppers and owners, "Miata" is likely a familiar name, and probably has been for some time. Next month at the New York International Auto Show, the Mazda MX-5 Miata will celebrate its 25th birthday. To commemorate the roadster's milestone, Mazda will display 15 Miatas from various years in a dedicated area, including concepts from past auto shows, production models and race cars.

Mazda says in a press release that the Miata debuted at the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 9, 1989. According to Mazda, some keys to the roadster's enduring success include its affordability, simplicity and lively handling. Currently in its third generation, Mazda says that it has sold more than 900,000 Miatas.

Mazda MX-5 Miata
Second-Generation MX-5 Miata (Mazda North American Operations)

Reaffirming its popularity, Car and Driver says that the Miata is "widely regarded as the world’s best-loved sports car," adding that about 80 percent of all Miatas that have ever been sold in the U.S. are still on the road. The MX-5 Miata has been named to Car and Driver's 10 Best list numerous times, including eight consecutive appearances from 2006 to 2013.

The Miata is our top-ranked affordable sports car, and reviewers love its nimble handling, accurate short-throw manual shifter and overall fun-to-drive nature. They also like its low base price. The 2014 MX-5 Miata starts at $23,720.

Mazda MX-5 Miata
Current-Generation MX-5 Miata (Mazda North American Operations)

The current-generation Miata has been around since the 2006 model year, and publications including Motor Trend are awaiting the debut of the fourth-generation car, which it reports will bow at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show.

In the market for a new affordable sports car? Check out the U.S. News rankings of this year’s best cars. Then, look for a great deal on a new vehicle by checking out this month’s best car deals. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.