2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata Convertible Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata Convertible

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Mazda MX-5 Miata Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 167 hp @ 7000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 22/28 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata

  • The 2012 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

    Disappointing stereo; small trunk.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata now features stability and traction control as standard on all models, while a new Special Edition model will find its way into the garages of 450 lucky owners.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

My 3d miata

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

A mind-blowing sports car to

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata

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

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata

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 in smiles-per-mile

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata

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.

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

A true sports car at

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata

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.

Gas Mileage


  • 22
  • cty
  • 28
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata now features stability and traction control as standard on all models, while a new Special Edition model will find its way into the garages of 450 lucky owners.


The 2012 Mazda Miata shows you don't need to invest in a high-dollar sports car to enjoy spirited performance. When the Miata debuted more than 20 years ago, it quickly established itself as a driver's car that was affordable to buy and inexpensive to own. The little roadster is now in its third generation, and it remains as appealing as it was back when it was first launched.

One of the Miata's hallmarks is its steering, which excels at being communicative and responsive to input. Handling is a joy; the car's sharp reflexes and composed demeanor in turns make sinuous canyon roads a very special treat. Add to the mix an engine that loves to rev and what you get is a recipe for visceral driving excitement. It's also easy to live with, from a soft top that's easy to operate to a ride that's comfortable enough for daily commuting. This small sports car's only significant downside is a trunk that's too small to provide meaningful utility.

Since direct rivals like the Pontiac Solstice have long been discontinued and more upscale roadsters like the BMW Z4 and Nissan 370Z have much larger price tags, the Miata stands in a league of its own. You might consider cross-shopping it against convertible variants of the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500, but neither of these models can match the Miata's handling; however, the Cooper drop top offers extra utility via fold-flat rear seats. Another alternative could be the Ford Mustang V6 convertible, with its much larger trunk.

In the end, if smiles per mile is your primary metric, the MX-5 Miata is the undisputed leader of the pack. Decades after its initial appearance, it continues to deliver performance thrills at a price that's attainable for the common man.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 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). There is also a Miata Special Edition, of which only 450 will be produced.

In Sport trim, standard features include 16-inch cast-aluminum wheels, a 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 standard in Miata Sport models with automatic transmissions). Touring and Grand Touring models can enhance the Miata's already nimble handling with the Suspension package, which includes a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks and a limited-slip differential (only available with a manual transmission). The Grand Touring qualifies for the Premium package that features keyless ignition/entry, xenon headlights, Bluetooth and satellite radio. An Appearance package adds a unique front spoiler and extended rocker sills.

The Miata Special Edition is essentially a Grand Touring model available only in red or white. A black-painted PRHT is mandatory and is joined by matching black 17-inch wheels, mirrors, exterior trim pieces and leather upholstery. A limited-slip differential and a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein dampers are both standard, along with the Premium package.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2012 Mazda Miata is powered by 2.0-liter inline-4 engine that produces 167 horsepower (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 Edmunds testing, a Miata with a five-speed manual transmission sprinted from a standstill to 60 mph in a reasonably quick 6.9 seconds. Fuel economy is about average, with 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 drop 1 mpg in city mileage.


Antilock disc brakes and side airbags are standard, along with stability and traction control. In Edmunds braking tests, various Miata models turned in stopping distances from 60 mph between 110 and 116 feet, which are very respectable numbers for a sports car.

Interior Design and Special Features

If you're an average-sized driver, you'll find that the 2012 Mazda Miata's compact footprint leaves it with a cabin that envelops you in a close but comfortable embrace. Taller drivers have found that the seat runs out of rearward travel, though. The gauges are legible and controls are user-friendly and well-placed.

Those who choose the manual convertible top will appreciate its simplicity; all it takes is the push of a button and the tug of a lever to liberate the lightweight top from its moorings. It takes just a few seconds to lower the top, and raising it is just as quick and 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.

Convertibles are notoriously short on trunk space, and the Miata is no exception. With just 5.3 cubic feet available, there's barely room for a light traveler's luggage and it takes some effort to get golf bags to fit -- if they fit at all. Points are also deducted for the disappointing stereo performance when the top is down. Even the upgraded Bose system suffers from poorly aimed speakers that fail to fill the cabin with sound.

Driving Impressions

The Miata is legendary for its ability to squeeze maximum enjoyment from winding blacktop, and it owes much of this skill to the uncanny communicativeness of its steering and suspension. Some hard-core enthusiasts might find the car's body roll to be excessive when driving hard, but just about everybody else will enjoy the car's nimble handling. Overall, the 2012 Mazda Miata is one of the best-handling cars you can buy for the money.

The free-revving four-cylinder engine doesn't pack a whole lot of punch compared to some other sports cars, but it's always eager to play, and the short-throw manual gearbox is as good as it gets. On a daily basis, the Miata is easy to live with and comfortable for long stints in either top-up or top-down mode.

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