By Duane Pemberton
Company website: http://www.mazdausa.com
Blue skies, leaves turning, the smell of a far-off fireplace, miles of pavement in front of you, beckoning you to drive it – but you need to go topless as there is a greater sense of being alive when you’re in the elements. This is fall-driving and whenever you have a break in the weather, as we have enjoyed up until about two days ago, it’s still fair-game for a convertible. To be honest, any time we get a break in the weather here in the Seattle area, we’re all over the shorts and convertible action with the quickness because Lord knows it doesn’t seem to last very long.
- BASE PRICE $32,020
- PRICE AS TESTED $32,020
- VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door convertible
- ENGINE 2.0L/167-hp/140-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
- TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual
- CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 2587 lb (51/49%)
- WHEELBASE 91.7 in
- LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 157.3 x 67.7 x 49.4 in
- MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.7 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)
- EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 21/28 mpg
- ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 160/120 kW-hrs/100 mi
- CO2 EMISSIONS 0.82 lb/mi
This 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata “Special Edition” is a great vehicle for a great “Fall drive” experience as its heating system and heated leather seats should do a great job of keeping you and your passenger rather toasty on even the most blustery days of Fall – not to mention during the warmer months where you won’t have such a need for car’s heating properties.
There’s a certain loyalty, I’ve found when talking to Miata owners – yeah, they’ve heard it all before like “Dude, that’s a chick car” etc. – but what captivates most owners is the way these cars drive. Sure they don’t have tons of power but they also barely weigh anything so there’s no a ton of power needed for it to be a spirited experience behind the wheel.
Our test model came with the 6-speed manual transmission which would by the option I’d go for if I were to buy this car, however, there is also an automatic available with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. The stick shift is one of the best available anywhere with its short throws, solid clutch-feel and the overall tactical feel to it.
What makes this care such a joy to drive is not its straight-line performance but its handing of the corners – with a near perfect 50/50 weight split between the front and back , it’s liken to driving a large go-kart. No matter how hard you push it through the corners, it’ll take it on with all kinds of finesses – in fact, I know of no other sports car anywhere close to its price point that can hang with it through the hard corners.
The trunk space is actually fully usable - unlike so many convertibles which harness the trunk space for the top, this car has a dedicated trunk that’s completely separate from the folded roof space.
Inside, it is a bit of a cramped space for larger people, however, the seats are firm and supportive but don’t tend to aid in long-term comfort during longer trips. I appreciate how everything is easily in-reach from the driver’s seat but the middle console’s proximity to the shifter can make using the cup-holders there a worthless endeavor and the power window buttons can be too easily depressed at times when your right arm is in a relaxed position.
Price at just over the $30k mark, this is clearly not a small sports car that will appeal to everyone but then again, it’s not trying to. Mazda has created a car that yearns to be driven hard. If you’re up the the task, you’ll find a car that will reward you with thrills on the back-roads that many will ever experience this side of a car costing at least twice the amount.