2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Wonderfully simple... to a fault

The 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT Special Edition adds rarity to one of the best drivers' cars of this generation, but the omission of the most basic cabin-tech options severely hurts its score.

2012 Mazda Miata Special Edition
Antuan Goodwin/CNET

It's no secret the Mazda MX-5 Miata has always been one of my favorite cars. It's light and nimble, it's simple, and it's one of the purest driving experiences I've ever had. But the thing that I love the most about the Mazda Miata is that it's sort of an anti-poseur car. You're not going to impress many people from behind the wheel of the unassuming roadster. So, if you see someone driving a Miata of any generation, you can know that they doing it because they truly love this car. Not many cars can claim the Miata's levels of popularity with so little hype, so Mazda must be doing something right.

So what gives with the low score in the rated review ?

Unfortunately, the same purposeful simplicity that works in the MX-5 Miata's favor in terms of performance works against it when it comes to cabin tech. The MX-5's available audio sources are limited to AM/FM radio, a CD player, and an analog input. Also available is possibly the most basic OEM Bluetooth hands-free system on the road today. Where's the USB port? Where's the Bluetooth audio streaming?

Everyone listens to music while they drive and CDs are circling the drain as the dominant audio format. The Miata doesn't make it easy to listen to music on an MP3 player or smartphone, requiring that you clutter up the already snug cabin with two cables (power and audio) and fiddle with the connected device more than any driving purist should be comfortable with. You shouldn't have to touch your phone to skip tracks -- it's distracting and possibly illegal. The simple addition of a USB port or Bluetooth A2DP would greatly simplify the listening experience, boosting the Miata's safety without, to paraphrase a commenter, messing it up with tech toys.

I don't think I'm asking for much here -- certainly not anything too complicated -- and I'd be surprised if Mazda doesn't address these issues in the next generation. This is a rare case where the correct application of cabin tech would actually make the MX-5 simpler and easier to live with. In the meantime, check out our full review of the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT Special Edition, which classes up the classic Miata formula with a motorized metal roof and an exclusive paint scheme.

 

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