2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Convertible Review | Edmunds.com

2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Convertible

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Mazda MX-5 Miata Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 167 hp @ 7000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 21/28 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata

  • The 2011 Mazda Miata maintains its position as one of the all-time great roadsters, mixing refinement and excitement in an affordable, compact package.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Fun to drive; precise steering and handling; smartly designed soft and hard tops; low price; low operating costs.

  • Cons

    Stability control only available on the top trim level; disappointing stereo; small trunk.

  • What's New for 2011

    For 2011 the Mazda MX-5 Miata sees no changes apart from the debut of the limited-production Special Edition.

Full 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review

What's New for 2011

For 2011 the Mazda MX-5 Miata sees no changes apart from the debut of the limited-production Special Edition.


For more than two decades now, the Mazda Miata has been thrilling sports car purists with its elemental charms. The first Miata called to mind the British roadsters of the 1960s, except the Mazda also boasted a stiff chassis, reliable electrics, an engine that didn't mark its territory with oil and a soft top that was easy to operate and wouldn't try your patience and bust your nails.

Now in its third generation, the Miata continues to offer more of the same, with lively handling, communicative steering, a happy-to-rev power plant and an affordable price. The 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata doesn't change one whit compared to last year's model. We see absolutely nothing wrong with this and doubt anyone else does either.

Though the 167-horsepower output of the MX-5 Miata's four-cylinder engine might seem  meager in a world of 270-hp family sedans, it doesn't have to move nearly as much weight as a sedan, since a base-model Miata weighs only about 2,500 pounds. And should you opt for the power-retractable-hardtop model, you're only taking on another 70 pounds for the additional weather protection, noise insulation and parking security. 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.

As you can probably tell, we think rather highly of the 2011 Mazda Miata. In fact, the modern Miata has no real competition, as would-be rivals such as the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky twins and the Honda S2000 are history and high-end roadsters such as the 2011 BMW Z4 and 2011 Porsche Boxster are in another economic realm.

The Mazda's closest rival would be the 2011 Mini Cooper convertible, which isn't as capable in terms of handling but is still fun to drive and offers the bonus of a pair of very small backseats. One might also consider the 2011 Ford Mustang V6 convertible, which now offers a powerful engine and respectable handling, though not the compact dimensions and point-and-shoot dynamic of the Mazda.

Considering this, it seems that the story is the same even after 20 years. Car shoppers looking for a fun, zippy and affordable roadster need look no further than their friendly neighborhood Mazda dealer.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a two-seat roadster that is offered in three trim levels: base Sport, well-equipped Touring and premium Grand Touring. All come standard with a manually operated soft top, while the top two trims can be had with a power-retractable hardtop (PRHT).

In Sport trim, standard features include 16-inch cast-aluminum wheels, a black vinyl convertible top with a glass rear window, air-conditioning, cloth seats, a six-speaker sound system with a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack, a height-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and power windows and mirrors.

The Touring model adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a shock tower brace for the front suspension, foglights, cruise control, power door locks, keyless entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a trip computer, a six-CD changer, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a leather-wrapped shift knob. The Grand Touring steps up with the choice of a black or beige cloth top, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated seats, a seven-speaker Bose audio system and silver interior accents. The PRHT models are identically equipped.

Most options are grouped in packages. Sport models can be equipped with the Convenience package that includes most of the Touring upgrades (this package is included in Miatas with automatic transmissions). Touring and Grand Touring models can enhance the Miata's already nimble handling with the Suspension package (only available with a manual transmission), which includes a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks and a limited-slip differential. The Grand Touring qualifies for the Premium package that features stability control, keyless ignition/entry, xenon headlights, Bluetooth and satellite radio. An Appearance package adds a different front spoiler and extended rocker sills.

Also available this year is the limited-production Miata Special Edition. It's essentially a Grand Touring PRHT with the Premium package and, if it's a manual transmission, the Suspension package. The Miata Special Edition also includes unique exterior and interior colors.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2011 Mazda Miata is powered by 2.0-liter inline-4 engine that produces 167 hp (158 with the automatic transmission) and 140 pound-feet of torque. Sport models come standard with a five-speed manual transmission, while Touring and Grand Touring models come with a six-speed manual transmission. All models have the option of a six-speed automatic with shift paddles on the steering wheel.

In testing a Miata with a five-speed manual transmission, we found the car could sprint from a standstill to 60 mph in a reasonably quick 6.9 seconds. Fuel economy is also impressive at an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 24 mpg in combined driving for the five-speed manual. The six-speed manual and automatic sacrifice only 1 mpg in city mileage.


Antilock disc brakes and side airbags are standard. Stability control is available as an option on the Grand Touring model only, however.

Interior Design and Special Features

Sitting behind the wheel of a 2011 Mazda Miata, you'll get the feeling that you're wearing the car, rather than sitting in it. The fit is snug for average-sized adults, but not cramped. Taller drivers, however, have found that the seat runs out of rearward travel, although there's loads more room than in previous-generation Miatas. As always, this Miata features simple, legible gauges along with well-placed, user-friendly controls.

The manual convertible top's operation is as simple as it gets -- push a button, pull a lever and toss the top over your shoulder. Dropping the top takes only a few seconds and raising it is just as easy. With practice, some longer- and stronger-limbed drivers can raise the roof without even leaving the seat. The power-retractable hardtop takes a bit longer to transform from coupe to roadster, but the added convenience, noise isolation and security make it a good choice as a daily driver.

One of the biggest drawbacks for small convertibles is a lack of trunk space, and the Miata is no exception. The 5.3 cubic feet of trunk space is barely enough for a weekend getaway and golf bags take quite a bit of wrestling to stow -- if they fit at all. Points are also deducted for the disappointing top-down stereo performance. Even the upgraded Bose system suffers from poorly aimed speakers that fail to envelop the occupants.

Driving Impressions

One of the Miata's greatest attributes continues to be its ability to bound from corner to corner on a tight and winding road. This ability is due in no small part to a suspension and steering feel that are as communicative as a political pundit in an election year. The seat-of-the-pants feel and feedback from the wheel give the Miata the goods to satisfy nearly any driving enthusiast, though some horsepower junkies may yearn for more under-hood punch.

Still, the free-revving four-cylinder always seems eager to play and the short-throw manual gearbox is as good as it gets. Drivers with less sporting intentions should still find the 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata easy to live with and comfortable for long stints in either top-up or top-down mode.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

My 3d miata

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Vehicle: 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring 2dr Convertible w/Power Hard Top (2.0L 4cyl 6M)

I just love Miata. But I had to do a lot of modifications to the 2012 to make it right. The Stereo is horrible. Is it even stereo? The sun visors dont rotate, and are made of cheap plastic. I guess nobody in Japan drives south in the morning or north in the evening, because if they did, they would soon tire of driving with your hand up by your ear to block the sun! And there is a huge area in the corner of the window that isnt blocked by the visor. There are not USB ports! Lastly, the horn! How could they mis-design the horn switch?? It's this tiny little area in the middle of the steering wheel. That said, I couldnt help but get another Miata.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

A mind-blowing sports car to

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Vehicle: 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Touring 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6M)

Through my brief history of owning an array of sports cars, this Miata is the least expensive car I've bought, yet it is simply the best out of them all... It may seem hard to believe, but I WILL NOT lie to you. I've owned a '06 Evo IX MR, '09 e90 M3 Sedan, '10 RX-8 R3... and this MX-5 Miata beats them all. I've matured into a smarter and more expererienced driver, expecially after attending several HPDE events... And this particular car is the pinnacle of pure sports cars. It has all the driving enjoyment you could ever want or need. Having the option of going top-down is an exciting bonus. This car really connects with the driver and becomes in harmony with one another.

8 of 12 people found this review helpful

Convertible heaven without convenience

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Vehicle: 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring 2dr Convertible w/Power Hard Top (2.0L 4cyl 6M)

I bought this car this spring & have had the summer to drive it. I just love the way it drives and riding with the top down. Despite that, I probably won't buy another. The interior is very badly designed. The drink holders are directly in the line that your arm must move to shift, and so are unuseable unless you want to risk dumping coffee all over the interior. The door pocket holders will hold nothing but a plastic water bottle. The interior material stains easily and may not come clean. The carpet is very cheezy. I live in a rural area and limit how far I take it from home due to the lack of a spare tire. There is no way that I'd find a replacement tire in rural Michigan.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

#1 in smiles-per-mile

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Vehicle: 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Sport 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6A)

I'd never considered driving an MX-5 until I happened to walk past one at a Mazda dealership one day. I'd always thought of them as girly cars, as too small, too slow, too something for me. But I liked the look of this third generation and the price surprised me. I went home that night and researched the car. To my surprise, I found respectable publications and enthusiasts loved the MX-5 for its ease of operation, near-perfect handling and balance, quick acceleration, and reliability. I went back for a test drive and had the keys to one within a week. There are faster cars, bigger cars, and definitely pricier cars out there. But I don't think many below $100k are this fun to drive.

25 of 27 people found this review helpful

A true sports car at

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Vehicle: 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Special Edition 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6A)

An exciting car to drive, despite the lack of horsepower. Has the advantage but also disadvantages of a convertible. Advantage: top down+summer afternoons = heaven on earth. Disadvantage: More moving parts/joints = more creaks, leaks, and breaks, sub-par sound insulation, increased cost and weight with decreased rigidity. Supposedly has a manual shifter from heaven, but I live in a city with traffic from hell (LA) so opted for the auto, which I've learned to love, especially with the paddle shifter and engine braking capability. Compactness of the car has taught me to make do with less.

Talk About The 2011 MX-5 Miata

2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Discussions See all Started By

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Read more about the 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Gas Mileage


  • 21
  • cty
  • 28
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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