Advertisement

Why ads?
Popular at KBB.com
  • 10 Best Sedans Under $25,000
  • 10 Most Affordable Cars of 2014
  • The 40 MPG Cars of 2014
  • Class of 2015: New Vehicles Ready to Roll
Go

2012 Mazda Miata MX-5

Overview
Share this page
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

Buying this car?

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)

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

Buying this car?

2012 Mazda Miata MX-5 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.4
Out of 10

Based on 211 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

The most fun I've had driving a convertible.

By on Tuesday, November 04, 2014

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

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
9/10

Pros: "very fun car"

Cons: "doesn't hold it's value for some reason."

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

"It's kind of like driving a go-kart because it's so small, but it has a wide footprint and handles extremely well. You can drive it all month on one tank of gas. The tank is 10 gallons. overall a very fun car."

9 people out of 11 found this review helpful

New owner, old sports car driver, why did I wait?

By on Thursday, October 09, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,600

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: "More smiles per mile."

Cons: "I can't drive it 24/7; I have to sleep some time."

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

"I've driven MGs, Alfas, Fiats. I waited a long time to find a used MX-5 in good condition. Found a 2013 Grand Touring with less than 1000 miles on it. I let the first owner eat about $7000 in depreciation. The car even smells new. I also fly little airplanes; this car is even more fun than that cause I can do it any day I want, regardless of the weather. Buy one, it's fantastic for two empty nesters and there is no room for grandchildren."

22 people out of 35 found this review helpful

Good car, sporty and fun to drive

By on Monday, September 29, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000

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: "Gas mileage, fun to drive"

Cons: "Only for 2 people"

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

"This was my "fun" car and I truly enjoy driving it. It looks classy and I have never had any mechanical problems with it. Every time I drive it someone comments on the beauty of the car."

4 people out of 11 found this review helpful

Best priced hardtop convertible sports 2 seater

By on Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,440

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"Pros: Corners like on rails. Great acceleration for a small car Hardtop goes up and down in less than 8 seconds Cons: The front fender skirt sits really low and can get scratch up easily at parking spaces blocks or curbs. It's hard to clean the space behind the seats with the top up and near impossible with top down."

4 people out of 8 found this review helpful

I have owned several Mazda convertibles.

By on Thursday, August 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000

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
10/10

Pros: "They are esp. fun to drive and very reliable."

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

"I like how these cars ride...they look luxurious, and very sporty. Have owned and enjoyed several Mazdas over the yrs. My first one for 19 yrs, and looked as new when I traded it in as when I bought it. Love these Mazdas."

20 people out of 34 found this review helpful

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."

15 people out of 19 found this review helpful

Share this page

Advertisement

Why ads?
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

Buying this car?