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2012 Mazda Miata MX-5

Overview
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2012 Mazda Miata MX-5 Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 8.4

Most of the world's automotive legends come from earlier times, with very few post-1970s cars making the list. One that does is the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata, a 23-year mainstay of the Mazda line and the only compact, modestly-priced 2-seat roadster offered in the U.S. Since its introduction, the Mazda MX-5 Miata has garnered fans from all ages, both male and female, who simply love the open-air experience, the go-kart-like handling and near bullet-proof repair and reliability ratings. Over the years, Mazda has refined the MX-5 Miata formula, adding more safety and convenience features, as well as more power and chassis rigidity. But the basic MX-5 Miata flavor is still the same, which is why this little roadster remains popular, year after year.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you grew up attracted to classic British roadsters from Triumph and MG, or you just love the feeling of a small, well-connected roadster that was born for curving back roads, you're a candidate for the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible. Open-air fans will find lots to like, especially the Miata's sub-$25,000 starting price. Those who live in cold climates will appreciate the retractable hardtop option.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you need one car to do many things, and there is more than one of you to consider with this purchase, the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible may be a poor choice. The compact trunk and two-seat configuration severely limits the MX-5 Miata's cargo and people-hauling abilities.

What's New for 2012

The only significant change to the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible line is the addition of electronic traction and stability control on all models.

Driving the Miata MX-5

Driving Impressions There is nothing about the 2012 Mazda Miata convertible that we don't like. Is it loaded with horsepower? No. But, with a total weight of roughly 2,500 pounds, the 167-horsepower...

2.0-liter engine is more than sufficient. From the lovely quick-shifting manual transmission to the near-instantaneous steering turn-in response, the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a true enthusiast driver's dream. The MX-5 Miata's all-independent suspension and almost 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution contribute to the terrific level of handling, as well as the compliant ride. And, while its development over twenty years has necessarily accommodated new safety and emission legislation, the tight, lithe platform continues to deliver an almost magical connection with the asphalt and fresh air. It's more than mere transport; it's transport to another place.

2.0-liter DOHC 4-Cylinder Engine
There is no supercharger or turbo to boost output, no V6 crammed under the hood to throw off the 50/50 weight balance, just a marvelously rev-happy 2.0-liter engine that responds without complaint and sips fuel to the tune of 28 mpg.

Aluminum
To look at the MX-5 Miata's spec sheet, you'd think the starting price was in the mid-$30s or even $40s, rather than mid-$20s, as the structure utilizes a remarkable amount of lightweight (and relatively costly) aluminum. Hood, trunk, front suspension control arms, rear suspension uprights and rear brake calipers are all crafted in a material many carmakers seem yet to discover in any meaningful quantities. It keeps the MX-5 Miata commendably light and wonderfully responsive.

2012 Mazda Miata MX-5 Details
Interior

There is no getting around the fact that the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible's interior is a snug affair but, for those who can wedge themselves inside, it promises to be a great ride. The beauty of the MX-5 Miata's interior is that, if you're shorter than six feet tall, there is ample leg and head room, even with the top up. The seats might be marginally comfortable for some, and a few people may find them not to be the best for longer trips. Amazingly, the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible's trunk is big enough to fit a large overnight bag or a few days' worth of groceries. The interior materials are well above what we'd expect at this price, with Grand Touring models outfitted with heated leather seats, Bose audio and automatic climate control.

Exterior

We could describe the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible's most alluring features to you, or you could just look at a picture, because what you see is what you get. The sleek exterior shares no sheet metal or parts with the last-generation Miata, but the two look amazingly similar. The MX-5 Miata's retractable soft top is a marvel of engineering, requiring only one arm to open and close. Those looking for a bit more comfort and security can opt for the retractable hardtop version, which amazingly takes up no trunk space and results in the loss of only a small storage compartment behind the driver's seat.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Despite an entry-level price tag, the base 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata Sport is comprehensively equipped. A 5-speed manual transmission, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, electronic traction and stability control, side-impact airbags, 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, glass rear window with defroster, power windows, leather-wrapped steering wheel, adjustable-height driver's seat and AM/FM/CD with MP3 playback capability are but a few of the highlights. In short, despite a relatively low price tag (under $25K), the entry-level 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata is almost elegantly equipped.

Optional Equipment

Most of the 2012 MX-5 Miata's available options are packaged in the trim-level upgrades. Touring and Grand Touring models add a sixth gear to the manual transmission; all three trim levels offer an available 6-speed automatic as an option. The Touring - and by extension, Grand Touring - has 17-inch alloy wheels, a chrome grille surround, power door locks, an in-dash 6-disc CD changer and remote keyless entry. Moving up from the Touring trim level to the Grand Touring adds a black or beige cloth top (instead of the Sport and Touring black vinyl top), automatic air conditioning, leather seating and a Bose audio system. A more aggressive Sport suspension (with Bilstein shocks and limited-slip differential) can be added to both Touring and Grand Touring models equipped with the manual transmission. The retractable hardtop is offered on Touring or Grand Touring trim levels and adds the power retractable hardtop with a glass rear window and rear defroster.

Under the Hood

With 167 horsepower at 7,000 rpm from its 2.0 liters of displacement, the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata's powertrain is merely middle-of-the-pack in terms of power output. But what it provides in driving enjoyment puts it solidly in pole position, with feedback - both mechanical and aural - fully appropriate to the classic sports-car experience. And much of that has been engineered into the car. One example: The engine's plastic composite intake manifold is designed to transmit - rather than mask - certain frequencies that duplicate a sports car's "sound." Both 5-speed and 6-speed manual transmissions are short in their throws and precise in their actuations. And, as noted, a 6-speed automatic is optional across the board, but truly appropriate only if you've lost your left leg in a racing accident.

2.0-liter in-line 4
167 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm (manual); 158 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm (automatic)
140 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 (5-speed manual), 21/28 (6-speed manual), 21/28 (6-speed automatic)

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2012 Mazda Miata MX-5 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.4
Out of 10

Based on 206 Ratings for the 2006 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.5/10
    Quality
    9.5/10
  • Reliability
    9.7/10
    Performance
    9.6/10
  • Comfort
    8.8/10
    Styling
    9.4/10

It is my therapist!

By on Friday, July 04, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,200

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Reliable and fun to drive."

Cons: "Cozy driving accomodations; AC could be better"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"A Miata is not meant to be your only vehicle...but it sure is fun on a winding mountain road or cruising along the coast highway with the top down. The absolute best bang for the buck. It's very reliable, too. They're a much better value as a used vehicle as the majority have been very well taken care of and have relatively low miles. Mine is 8 years old and has just over 50K miles; that's a little over 6000 miles/year. The A/C is anemic and the noise can be problematic on a long trip, but....hey, it's a convertible. I have driven it from Los Angeles to San Francisco along the coast highway and enjoyed every minute of that trip. I have the 6 speed manual transmission but there's an automatic available."

12 people out of 16 found this review helpful

super fun

By on Sunday, June 29, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,300

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "reliable fun. lots of secret compartments for a tw"

Cons: "two seater"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6

"love this car. have had it for 8 years. the only reason id sell it is to fit more than one passenger. really great ride. handles beautifully."

14 people out of 25 found this review helpful

Lots of fun,fun.fun!

By on Saturday, June 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,700

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Great handling, fun to drive."

Cons: "A little disappointed in the Bose radio, but it's"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"This is my 2nd Miata, and it is such a joy to drive. This car corners on a dime. I belong to a Miata club, and we were taking 25 mph curves at 45 to 50 mph, with no problems. This is NOT a car for everyday driving and is a second car for me. Maintenance is easy and not expensive. No trunk space, but ok for weekend trips. It beats a motorcycle for fun. Recommend this car for people who enjoy handling and the feel of the road. Zoom, Zoom."

5 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Best driving sports car I have ever owned!

By on Saturday, June 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,500

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "driveability, power to weight ratio, & cornering"

Cons: "no cons on this car!"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"In my 66 years of life I have owned many sports cars, including many that were much more expensive and "exclusive" than this 2011 Special Edition MX-5 Miata. This is without a doubt the most fun to drive, even better than my Mustangs and Camaros. It has an incredible cornering ability and it hugs the road like few other cars. This is my third Miata."

6 people out of 8 found this review helpful

This car was a 50th birthday present to myself

By on Saturday, May 24, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Hardtop goes up and down w/the touch of a button"

Cons: "Paint chips easily and only 1 auxillary outlet"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

My Favorite Toy

"I purchase this car in 2008 for my 50th birthday and I am still celebrating. I enjoy driving this car today as much as I did 6 years ago. I gave it a 9 for exterior due to paint quality. The paint chips and scars easily, but can be avoided if you treat it like a newborn baby. ;-)"

10 people out of 17 found this review helpful

My Favorite Toy

Fun vehicle to drive. Easy to maintain.

By on Friday, May 23, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,300

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Fun vehicle to drive. Easy to maintain. Top is simple and quick to raise or lower. Getting in and out may be harder for bigger person. I definitely recommend this car. A great value."

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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