2012 Mazda Miata PRHT Special Edition review: 2012 Mazda Miata PRHT Special Edition

Missing from the 2012 Miata's infotainment option list are a navigation system, Bluetooth A2DP audio streaming, and an USB/iPod port. These may seem like simple omissions that can be overcome with a smartphone and an auxiliary audio cable, but without USB/iPod connectivity or Bluetooth A2DP, you lose steering-wheel transport controls, so you'll be stuck fiddling with your phone if you decide to change playlists or just skip tracks. Additionally, any trip that lasts longer than your phone's battery will require that you plug in not only that aux-audio cable, but also a 12-volt charger. And since the only place you can comfortably stow your phone in the Miata is either in a cupholder or in a cell phone slot near the back of the center console, you'll be draping both of those cables awkwardly across your shifter.

The Miata is in desperate need of a tech upgrade -- these days, even an entry-level Hyundai Accent comes better equipped -- but in the interim, there are stopgap solutions available now. By day 2 with the Miata, I found myself turning to an aftermarket product to address my issues with tech. By simply plugging a Scosche MotorMouth II into the MX-5's auxiliary input, I was able to add Bluetooth audio streaming, which eliminated the need for one of the two cables, and use my smartphone's own voice dialer at the touch of a button, making it easier to place calls.

2012 Mazda Miata Special Edition
The 2012 Mazda Miata Special Edition's PRHT is painted in contrasting Gloss Black paint, pictured here with more doughnuts. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Cabin comfort
Interestingly, while the MX-5 Miata is lacking in dashboard tech, it is available with a few creature comforts, not the least of which is its optional power-retractable hard top (PRHT). This motorized "z-fold" roof collapses into the Mazda's chassis with the release of a locking lever and the touch of a button in just a hair under 12 seconds. Raising the roof is slightly slower, but not so much so that you'll really notice it.

What you will notice is how much quieter in the cabin the hard-topped Miata is than its fabric-roofed twin. If you spend much time at highway speeds or in the rain with the top up, the PRHT is a must-have feature. It's only about an 80-pound increase in curb weight, which you probably won't notice outside of instrumented testing, and your eardrums will thank you for making this miniscule sacrifice.

Even with the top up, the Miata isn't unbearably windy at highway speeds. I was even able to receive an incoming call using the Bluetooth speakerphone at 50 mph without shouting.

A Premium package adds an advanced keyless entry and start system with an antitheft alarm. The halogen headlights get bumped up to HID Xenon projectors and, in the cabin, the standard HomeLink audio-dimming rear mirror is joined by the aforementioned Bluetooth hands-free calling and SiriusXM receiver.

2012 Mazda Miata Special Edition
At the Grand Touring and Special Edition levels, the Miata gains heated leather seats. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

At the Grand Touring trim level, the Miata is fitted with heated leather seats, automatic climate controls with modes dedicated to top-down driving, and the Bose Audio System.

The Special Edition MX-5 Miata comes with a PRHT that's painted in Gloss Black mica to contrast with its Crystal White pearl mica or Velocity Red mica body. The 17-inch alloy wheels and wing mirrors also get recolored in Gunmetal Black and Gloss Black, while the cabin is finished with a Gloss Black dashboard, black trim on the steering wheel, shifter, and brake lever, and alloy sport pedals. Additionally, the Special Edition models have every optional package available as standard features, including the Sport Suspension package. Only 450 Special Edition models will be sold in the U.S., at only a $235 premium over a fully loaded Grand Touring model.

2012 Mazda Miata Special Edition
The 2012 Mazda Miata Special Edition is one of those cars that every enthusiast should drive once. Too bad it will drive techies mad. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

In sum
The 2012 Mazda Miata with the Power Retractable Hard Top starts at $27,540 for the Touring model. Jump up to $28,950 for the Grand Touring, and add $650 for the Suspension package, $1,390 for the Premium package, and a $795 destination charge to reach a fully loaded price of $31,785. Or get your hands on a $32,020 Special Edition to get all of that plus the nicer paint job in one fell swoop. Add $1,100 if you don't want to shift your own gears.

Either way you do it, you'll end up with an awesome little sports car with one of the crappiest cabin tech setups on the market, so here's how I'd spend my bucks. I'd skip all of the tech that Mazda offers and stop at the $27,540 Touring level, add $650 for the Suspension upgrades, invest in a suction-cup mount for my smartphone and a Bluetooth receiver like the Scosche MotorMouth II for about $100 total, and roll off of the dealership with a $29,085 car. Can you live without the hard top? Go ahead and shave $1,710 off of the bottom line and use that to upgrade to an aftermarket stereo system to create my optimal MX-5 roadster.

Tech specs
Model 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT Special Edition
Trim Special Edition
Power train 2.0-liter, inline 4-cylinder
EPA fuel economy 21 city, 28 highway, 24 combined mpg
Observed fuel economy 24.4 mpg
Navigation n/a
Bluetooth phone support Yes
Disc player 6-disc, in-dash CD changer
MP3 player support standard analog 3.5mm auxiliary input
Other digital audio SiriusXM Satellite Radio
Audio system 7-speaker Bose premium audio with AudioPilot 2
Driver aids n/a
Base price $31,225
Price as tested $32,020

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About The Author

Antuan Goodwin gained most of his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and performance to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable. Email Antuan, follow him on Twitter, or like him on Facebook. Antuan