The Miata is best enjoyed with a manual transmission bolted to its 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The engine produces only 167 hp and redlines at 7200 rpm, but it’s the way the power is delivered that makes the Miata so much fun: the sixteen-valver pulls hard all the way to its 7500-rpm fuel cutoff, with great induction noise piped directly into the cabin. The optional automatic transmission doesn’t kill the fun too severely, but it does drop power to 158 hp and reduces the redline to a more pedestrian 6700 rpm. The Miata offers a well-designed cabin made of high-quality materials, a usable–although not exactly spacious–trunk, and a soft top that you can flip up or down without getting out of the driver’s seat. In addition, an optional power retractable hard top that can be raised or lowered in twelve seconds makes the Miata a livable companion in foul-weather states. The Miata is a lot of fun to drive, despite the fact that its engine puts out a relatively modest amount of power. All-around independent suspension, disc brakes, and a finely tuned chassis further contribute to a pure and exhilarating driving experience. With the disappearance this year of the more hard-core RX-8, the Miata carries on as the only sports car in the Mazda lineup. We expect an all-new Miata next year. Would that stop us from buying a 2012? Most definitely not.

DRIVE: Rear-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring

Body style: Convertible, 2-passenger

ENGINE: 2.0L I-4, 158/167 hp, 140 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 5- or 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic

PASSENGER VOLUME: N/A

CARGO SPACE: 5.3 cu ft

The Miata carries over with just one change to the roster: stability control is now standard. The Miata is firmly in the record books as the best-selling two-seat roadster ever, with more than 900,000 Miatas having left the factory since the original 1990 model. And none has been better than the current offering.

ABS and traction and stability control are now standard equipment. The Miata also has standard front and side air bags and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

All: 21-22 mpg city/28 mpg highway

  • Pure sports car bliss
  • Simple and straightforward
  • Well crafted
  • Small trunk space
  • Modest power

Still one of the world’s best sports cars.

  • Audi TT
  • Mini Cooper
  • Porsche Boxster
  • Volkswagen Eos

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