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2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review

Review Last Updated: 10/10/13

These scores and this review are from when the car was new.

If you’re looking for classic roadster style and engaging performance, reviewers say the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata delivers both to sports-car shoppers on a budget.

Auto writers note that the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata proves that sports cars don’t need to carry high price tags or pack monstrous engines to deliver spirited performance. “This Best Buy Mazda delivers as much driving enjoyment--if not outright power--as 2-seat sports cars costing thousands more,” writes Consumer Guide. “The MX-5 Miata combines open-air driving fun with surprising practicality.”

Those simple attributes are likely why automotive journalists are happy that Mazda has stuck to the basics, delivering a compact, rear-wheel drive roadster that’s inexpensive, reliable and fun. Car and Driver named the Miata one of the 10 Best Cars of 2012, noting that “evolution hasn't dimmed the car's genius.”

While the Miata may remind you of the style and handling of classic British sports cars without the mechanical pitfalls, test drivers say committing to this little roadster still has a few minor drawbacks. Space is the main thing to be concerned about if you’re considering the Miata – there isn’t much of it. Taller drivers may need more headroom, and the Miata’s narrow, two-seat cabin might be too snug for some drivers. The Miata’s trunk is also the smallest in the class. Reviewers say there’s enough room to pack for a weekend getaway, but not much else.

Still, critics agree that the Miata’s combination of performance, style and reliability continues to make it a top choice among affordable sports cars -- so much so that we named the Mazda Miata the 2012 Best Sports Car for the Money.

Other Sports Cars to Consider

If you’re looking for a two-seat convertible and have some extra money to spend, consider the Nissan 370Z. Like the Miata, reviewers love the 370Z’s nimble handling, but the Z also offers significantly more power and a more comfortable interior.

If you like the Miata’s size, but would prefer a car that’s more comfortable and refined, consider the Mini Cooper Convertible. Critics say that the front-wheel drive Mini is almost as nimble, and it also offers a back seat. Additionally, optional turbocharged engines can give the Cooper a distinct power advantage.

Details: Mazda MX-5 Miata

The 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata is available in three trims: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. All models come with a soft-top as standard equipment. A power-retractable hardtop is available on Touring and Grand Touring trims. For more details, see the full 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata specifications.

  • "This compact convertible offers everything a driver needs--style, convenience and ample fun." -- AutoWeek 
  • "Whether you choose a base Miata or a loaded one, you'll find that a hugely entertaining driving experience, a generous roster of features and daily comfort are all standard fare." -- Edmunds 
  • "There are few cars today - and virtually none in the U.S. market - that better combine fun, efficiency and affordability." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "The Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster is like a favorite pair of worn jeans; everything just feels right. From the position of the shifter, pedals, steering wheel and other controls, nothing's out of place. Few cars offer as much everyday driving fun as the Miata, and even fewer do it as inexpensively." -- Cars.com

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