New Car Review: 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Silver 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring PRHT driving shot
The 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring PRHT.

A sure-fire smile inducer at TireKicker is to toss us the keys to a Mazda MX-5 Miata. Tight, quick, fun...everything the MGs, Triumphs and Healys of the 60s were aiming for, but could never quite get that quality thing down.

It's been about a year and a half since Mazda put one in the press fleet, and it's a scientific fact that your body never outgrows its need for a week in a primal roots sporting machine, so we borrowed one from Chapman Mazda in Phoenix. And the one we got was the least primal of the bunch...the Grand Touring PRHT.

What's that? Well, it's an MX-5 Miata loaded with just about everything you can get...including a retractable hardtop.  Modern retractables (the first ones from Ford in the late 50s were engineering and electrical nightmares) are simple, slick and for the most part, the best of both worlds...the sun and wind in your hair when you want it, protection from the elements, prying eyes and sticky fingers when you don't (all a thief needs to get into your ragtop when it's parked is a good knife).

The only real downsides are weight and cost. Mazda's kept the weight penalty under a hundred pounds, which is a good thing. The base price of the Grand Touring PRHT (Power Retractable Hard Top) is $5.570 more than your base MX-5 Miata...go for the 6-speed automatic instead of the 6-speed manual and it's $6,570.

Silver 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring PRHT with top up
The 2011 Mazda Miata MX-5 Grand Touring PRHT. Zoom-Zoom and a smile.

Choosing the automatic also costs you 9 horsepower...down to 158 from 167 with the stick. That's how ours was equipped.

If you're thinking the base price is getting up there, you're right. $29,650 is where ours started. The good news is that besides the retractable, you're getting a lot of nice equipment for your money. Automatic climate control, leather-trimmed seats (heated with 5 settings), a leather-wrapped parking brake and a Bose audio system with AudioPilot 2.

2011 Mazda MX-5 gauge cluster closeup
The 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata gauge cluster.

Fold in the one and only option on our car, the Premium Package (anti-theft alarm, advanced keyless entry system, Bluetooth, Xenon headlights, dynamic stability and traction control and Sirius Satellite Radio) for $1,650 and $795 delivery, processing and handling fee, and the sticker reads:


Yeah, you can get a base MX5 Miata for about $23,000 or anywhere between $23,000 and $32,000. But there's nothing wrong with this approach either...it's the Uber-Miata.

2011 Mazda Miata MX-5 Grand Touring PRHT

Base price: $29,650

As tested: $32.095

Likes: Styling, character, handling, drivability, overall fun factor.

Dislikes: The retractable hardtop isn't insulated...on a 105-degree day, the A/C is barely able to counteract the heat seeping into the cockpit.

EPA Estimate: 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway.