$8,233 - $12,093

2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata was new.


Performance: 9.0

The 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata provides lots of driving excitment. While reviewers note that some competitors are faster, most agree that speed isn't what the Miata is all about. Rather, top-notch sports handling is. In that respect, the Miata is a winner.

  • "Driving the Miata is an analog experience, and you'll find yourself wearing a smile because driving it is fun and rewarding, rather than fast and boring, or-as is the case with many sports cars -- so fast that approaching the limit invites the possibility of dark moments with bridge abutments." -- Car and Driver
  • "Although tuned for a smoother ride than before, the Miata still changes direction with the immediacy of a roller skate and speaks to you clearly through the steering wheel and driver seat.” -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

Though the 2011 Mazda Miata won’t overwhelm drivers with power, test drivers report that its powertrain is satisfyingly smooth. Every 2011 MX-5 Miata is equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 167 horsepower at 7,000 rpm with the manual transmission, and 140 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. Horsepower ratings decrease slightly with the optional automatic transmission. For a more powerful sports roadster, check out the 332-horspower Nissan 370Z.

While the Miata Sport features a five-speed manual transmission, the Touring and Grand Touring utilize a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic with steering-mounted manual shift paddles is available for all trims.

  • "Acceleration isn't exactly the Miata's forte, but it's sufficiently quick for daily driving -- we've timed a six-speed manual Miata at 7.5 seconds for the 0-60-mph dash.  ... The Miata's peppy four pulls willingly and revs freely. It's a delightful instrument to play, especially with a manual gearbox where snapping off rev-matching downshifts is a breeze." -- Edmunds
  • "On top of that, the 6-speed manual is smooth; short throws between gears and a small lever that fits comfortably in the palm." -- Chicago Tribune
  • "Acceleration is brisk from all speeds, with satisfying low-rpm response. The manual transmission has short throws, but needs a firm hand. The responsive automatic boasts user-friendly paddle shifters and blunts power only slightly." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

Test drivers are impressed with the MX-5's superb handling, which is both sporty and comfortable. In fact, many assert that it handles just as well as roadsters costing thousands more.

  • "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." -- Edmunds
  • "The roadster has a 50/50 weight distribution (front/rear) and precise rack-and-pinion steering for legendary handling and predictability. The Miata is one of the most fun-to-drive cars around, despite its relatively modest engine power." -- Cars.com.
  • "The Mazda Miata is perhaps the only modern sports cars for which outright speed isn't a fundamental design directive. The marketplace is increasingly saturated with cars that are shockingly fast-a Toyota Camry V-6 whups the Miata in a quarter-mile battle. A V-6 Camry will not, however, give you a jones for meandering ribbons of tarmac or even feel like you're involved with anything more than a digital transportation device." -- Car and Driver
  • "The base suspension is appropriately firm, but is not uncomfortable. The ride is choppy and borderline harsh with the less-compliant combination of the Suspension Package and 17-inch tires." -- Consumer Guide

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