2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata 2-door Convertible Hard Top Auto Grand Touring Angular Front Exterior ViewEnlarge Photo
In the not-too-distant-past, affordable roadsters roamed the landscape like buffalo on the Great Plains during the Western Expansion. There were Fiat 124 Spiders, Alfa Romeo Spiders, Triumph TR-6s, Lotus Elans and MG Bs. Later, there were cars like the MX-5 Miata
, the MR2 Spyder and the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky.
Today, like the buffalo, these affordable-but-fun roadsters have all but vanished from the landscape. Where others have disappeared completely, the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata soldiers on, proudly wearing the distinction of the “world’s best selling two-seat sports car
For 2012, the Mazda MX-5
returns all but unchanged from 2011, with the sole update being standard traction control and stability control across all models. While the current generation, launched in later 2005 as a 2006 model, is getting up in years, there’s still a lot to like about the MX-5. For starters, it’s hands-down the most entertaining car to drive in its price range, thanks to its relatively stiff chassis, nimble handling and free-revving, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that delivers 167 horsepower and 140 pound feet of torque.
That may not sound like much, but the engine only needs to accelerate some 2,600 pounds of mass. With either the six-speed manual or the six-speed automatic, the run from 0-60 takes less than seven seconds, but straight line acceleration isn’t the MX-5’s forte. Throw the car around on a technical track, autocross course or your favorite canyon road, and you’ll soon see the advantage of near-perfect, 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution. Stout brakes help, too, and the MX-5 is capable of amazing things in the hands of a competent driver.
Those on a tight budget should probably stick to soft-top MX-5s, which start at around $24,000. If you’re planning on using the MX-5 as you’re only car, or if you want a bit more peace and quiet on long road trips, Mazda offers a power-retractable-herd-top (PRHT) version as well. Get crazy with the options, even on range-topping Grand Touring models, and you’ll be lucky to break the $33,000 price point.
While its price is part of the appeal, the MX-5’s fun-factor is hard to ignore. When the sun is shining and you’re driving a traffic-free stretch of winding road, the MX-5 can put a smile on your face like few other cars on the planet. If there’s a better blend of performance and value in the automotive world, we’d have a hard time naming it.
For a detailed look at the 2012 Mazda MX-5, see our complete review on The Car Connection