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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.
Favorite Features

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 191 Ratings for the 2006 - 2014 models.

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

Best Car I have Owned

By on Sunday, March 30, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000

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
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Light, fast, sporty, more fun than anything!"

Cons: "Limited space for people or luggage"

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

Mica Red with Beige Top/Orange Interior

"The Miata is the best car I have ever owned...though not the most practical. It is small, but that means it is sporty, powerful and handles like a Lotus. As a daily driver, it is amazing...it makes me want to get in and drive somewhere, even when I have no place to go. This is the best selling sports car of all time, and once you drive it, you will understand why. Space is an issue, so it is best as a second car, or for someone who understands the limitations up front. Quality and Reliability are a 10...fun is a 10, and even the looks are a 10. Forget the whole "girl car" stuff...this is a car for people who are true drivers."

6 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Mica Red with Beige Top/Orange Interior

fun to drive

By on Friday, March 28, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"handling, exhaust is tuned so perfectly. Not being a turbo it is pretty adequate for performance. Drive it year round with a good snows is very good in a snow storm. Just a great car to drive"

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

So much fun to drive!

By on Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great price, fun to drive."

Cons: "Battery (life and placement) some cheap interiors"

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

"I test drove every sports car under the sun, most 2-3 times more expensive than the Mazda Miata, but none felt as right as this car. It was light, fast and nimble. It hugs the road and feels completely balanced unlike many of the other sport cars, though most with more horsepower and a little more guts, felt front heavy. I am a small woman, and often have trouble getting up high enough to see comfortably over the dash without a cushion, but this car has a perfect driving position for me; like a perfectly designed cockpit. My 6"2 boyfriend however, is less than pleased with the head height unless the top is down. Oh well! It does fine in rain, scarey in snow so i try not to get caught which is difficult here in the northeast, but as impractical as owning one here may be, this is one lease that I do not want to return. I can't wait to see the redesign in 2015 which is supposedly a collaboration between Mazda and Alfa Remeo. If you want a fun, reasonably priced sports car, this is it, hands down."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

When I drive this car is like putting on a glove.

By on Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 97,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Handling is awesome. Very responsive."

Cons: "Firm ride, interior not plush."

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

"The most fun for the price car out there. Have not had any problems in 97K. Starts and drives like the day I bought it. Replaced the struts at 70K. Regular service and the usual tires, front brakes."

Fun to drive but not practical

By on Saturday, January 25, 2014

I owned and sold this car
Reason: Inpracticality

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
3/10

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

"It's a great car for the suitable person, but I made the mistake of buying a car in a rush. It's a great fun car to drive, except it can't take your daughter's friend when you pick her up at a school chorus practice; you can't take anyone to golf because the trunk won't accomodate a single golf bag, grocery shopping is out as you can't fit two bags of Charmin in the car. It looks too cute people thought it more of a female car. Getting in and out is a chore even for someone with a small figure."

6 people out of 9 found this review helpful

Fun car but not great for everyday driving

By on Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "It's a hoot to drive"

Cons: "Seats could be a bit more supportive"

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

"Due to the 6-speed manual and Southern California traffic, I feel the car is not the best choice for everyday driving. Drive on a twisty mountain road, however, and a smile will come over your face. The car is not fast but sure is fun! Reliability has been excellent; have only replaced the thermostat in over 50,000 miles (outside of normal maintenance). Comfort is acceptable; cabin is a bit noisy. The body structure is quite good for a convertible and has far fewer squeaks and rattles than my previous sports car. Looking into installing a supercharger as I'd like to have about 60 more hp; the power is adequate for "normal" driving though. I just want a little more power."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

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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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