Review: 2011 Mazda Miata Special Edition – A True Sports Car For All

 

The 2011 Mazda Miata Special Edition is special in every way. It’s sexy, fun to drive, and still gets great gas mileage. What more could you ask for? Only a few things, really.

So admittedly, right off the bat, I don’t look very manly in this car. And while I’m being honest, I don’t really look manly to begin with. In fact, my friends often make fun of me because I don’t do a lot of manual labor. However, I am a real man. I’m comfortable and secure about my personality, oddities, and I drive a manual transmission. I can drive big trucks, have big SUVs, but prefer a true, honest-to-God sports car. So in all reality, I’m just like the Mazda Miata. At first glance it, too, isn’t the most burly of sports cars. And people will most likely label you as gay. With that said, I’m sure being with my best guy friend tooling around in a baby sports car doesn’t make it any better.

You see, when you put all that crap aside, the Mazda Miata is a true man’s sports car. In fact, it’s the one of the few cars left in this world that abides by the rules of being a sports car. For those who aren’t familiar, when the term sports car was originally defined, it sounded something like this: “A low, small, usually 2-passenger automobile designed for quick response, easy maneuverability, and high-speed driving.” The origin comes from the 1920s where, from then on, sports cars were smaller convertibles that were just very fun and quick.

Think I’m wrong? Corvette, Porsche 356, Jaguar XK120, Jaguar E-Type, Jaguar D-type, Triumph, MG, Lotus Seven, Lotus Elan; all of the original sports cars of the day were small, two-seat ‘verts that could move like no other.

The Mazda Miata is the spiritual successor to that definition. While the term ‘sports car’ has evolved to include so many cars, the Miata has helped to stay true for under 35 grand ($31,720 as-tested price). Which is pretty great, when you think about it. Sure, it doesn’t have a lot of horsepower -167 medium sized ponies, but where I drive, I don’t need horsepower. I need lightness, agility, small size. So I’m driving the perfect car; for more than one reason.

With only 167 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque from a 2.0-liter 4-banger, the Mazda Miata is certainly no purebred super car. No, it’s sort of the Ramen noodles of sports cars. It may not be as fast or roomy as some smaller convertibles, but for the price and style, it gets the fun done. This does mean, however, that the Mazda Miata is also quite sparse inside. While you get leather seats, you don’t get a lot of storage areas, as well you cannot option navigation (fine by me). You do get a great steering wheel, potentially perfect, as well as the best gauges money can buy. They’re simple to read and have the exact ones you need, too.

This is the Power Retractable Hard-Top, or PRHT. I used to sell Mazdas, and when these things first came out, we could hardly keep them on the lot. Take 3 PRHT Miatas and stick them next to 50 soft-top Miatas, and the PRHTs would be gone before the first soft-top was sold, with more PRHTs ordered. That’s not a dig against the soft-top choice, because it’s the better ‘sports car’ for weight reasons (slightly). The PRHT is just the perfect sports car for all-round use. You can throw some winter tires on ‘er and drive in any type of weather, with sense, of course. Also, it’s a car you can leave outside if you live in a apartment or condo. Live down the beach but don’t want the threat of a soft-top getting knifed open or the weather getting to it? Here’s your car, boss.

Now you’re gonna tell me that your wife thinks they’re cute and you’ve thought about it for her. But trust me, if you’re a REAL man, you’ll be driving it, too. You won’t care what anyone else sees when they look at you, because with the driving pleasures the Mazda Miata gives you, you’ll never want to stop. Luckily it gets great gas mileage at 22 city and 28 highway. So frugal, not too ‘spensive, good looking, all year sports car, what more could you ask for? Well the Special Edition, for instance. With 2 special colors, the only Miata to come with a non-black interior (cream leather), you’ve got the right car. No, Mazda isn’t like some car companies. A Special Edition means you’re only spending $225 for 750 cars. But act fast, because there aren’t a lot available. The special edition nomenclature gets thrown around a ton these days, for simple stuff, too. But the Mazda Miata is so different. This is the best selling convertible car ever. Since 1991, Mazda have sold over 900,000 of them. And to thank a special few, you can have a nice thank you gift for a guilt-free price. It’s actually just a fully loaded Grand Touring with PRHT with Premium and Suspension pack, but instead of the usual black or beige, you get what Mazda call Tinted Gray (it’s cream colored, though). Also, there are only two colors, as I said before, which are Sparkling Black Mica or Dolphin Gray Mica.

Ya know, I was 4 in 1990 when the Miata started selling. No, don’t cry! This girl’s not too young for you if you’re in your mid-life crisis. Basically, what I’m trying to say is, at 21 years old, the Miata is barely old enough to drink, and man does she know how to have a hell of a good time.

Anyway, the point is, the Mazda Miata is one of the best cars ever. And it’s not just for your wife… or gay men, for that matter. Anyone can have one, drive one, etc. Enjoy the real sports cars while we can still have them. Lord knows we won’t be able to have them forever with all the safety regulations these days. And in regards to the driving, the Mazda Miata is just a blast. Whether you’re on a highway, back or mountain road, it’s just sensational. I’m not big on convertibles as a guy, but I hated having the top up in the Special Edition Miata. When looking at the big smiley face grille that adorns every current and future Mazda, it’s hard to not feel the same way when driving it; It just feels connected no matter what you’re doing with it, and that’s not true of most modern cars. True, the car is a tad cramped for most, so at 5’9″ I’m a perfect fit. With the Special Edition Mazda Miata you also get a standard limited-slip differential and Bilstein shocks -optional on the lesser Miatas- which make the car just hook-up and go. When flying around corners you can feel where the Miata’s tail gets a little light, but it doesn’t get out of whack. However, wider front and rear shoes (205/45ZR17 front and rear) wouldn’t hurt this baby sportster one bit.

While driving hard or slow, you’re always comfy. The seats are supportive, but offer just the right amount of cushion for the pushin’, and are also good on road trips. Overall the interior feels good and offers every button and dial in just the right spot, especially the shifter. However, I have just one complaint, and it’s with the Mazda Miata’s lack of a iPod adapter. While it has an auxiliary jack, which is nice, it’s hard to drive and use the iPod at the same time in this car, simply because it is so light and nimble that you’re all over the road trying to just select the next track.

But this all leads us to the safety and luxuriousness of the pint-size Mazda. Most would think a car that weighs roughly 2,500 lbs wouldn’t be the best at keeping you alive in a crash. This isn’t true, though, because The Miata has standard front and side air bags, and if you type “Mazda Miata crash test” into YouTube, you’ll see that such a little car can take one hell of a punch either from the front or side. There is a drawback of this smaller stature, though: The luggage space. At 5.3 cu. ft. of space in the trunk, it’s plenty big enough for a couple of duffel bags and a backpack, but never a real suitcase. The good news, though, is when the top is down it has hindrance on the amount of luggage space, because it has its own compartment just behind you.

All-in-all, I had a blast with the Mazda Miata Special Edition for a whole week. I had no issues with the people looking at me a little awkwardly as I had a creepy grin on my face, having just come from either a tight cornering exit-ramp, or a long b-road. My money’s on you having a great time, too, my friends. If you’re a man and are skeptical, just go drive one and see how much you love it. Ladies, uh, well we all know what you think already. So for $31,720, the Special Edition is worth the added 225 bucks for the shiny colors and beautiful interior color. I’m not sure if any are still available, so I’ll say that you should go out and buy A Mazda Miata. Thanks to Mazda for “Staying With the Stick” and continuing to give us these great sports cars the way we want them.

[Photos by Corey Privette and Mazda]

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I'm a car, music, and Howard Stern aficionado. I also love planes, trains, anything to do with science and engineering, as well as politics. I'm working on my screenplays, TV shows, and a book or two. Stay tuned to when I'm really famous and even more awesome.

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  • Ken

    Are any 2011 Mazda Miata SE left to purchase?  kenmarschool@aol.com

  • JBsC5

    Always a great smiles per mile! The miata is a fine sports car!

  • mike

     I have to make up my mind by tommorrow if I”m gonna plunk down the 22000 for last years model (2011) touring  model with the susp.package. One left! Your right though, I took this one out for a spin and WoW! that thing is a blast to drive! My wife thinks I”m nuts. after I show her how to drive a stick she”ll be addicted too!

  • Elizabeth Singleton

    The 1997 shall remain my favorite. I have owned two, and a 2003, and now a 2006. I drove one year round in WI for 5 years, ended up in a dirtch twice in the snow, but so were some big vehicles. On the plus side, cop just pushed me out as the tow trucks had enough to do and the Miata is so light. I have lived in phoenix and small towns, with and without garages, and never had anyone slice the top. A Miata has been my daily driver since 1999.