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What’s the first consideration for many convertible car owners? Fun. Sure, it’s a simplistic approach to buying a vehicle, but it remains a guideline for folks who like the top down, wind in their face, and taking meaningless drives just for the heck of it.

One of the standard bearers in the convertible category for years has been the Mazda Miata. It’s certainly not the most practical purchase because it’s tiny, not extremely powerful, has virtually no trunk space, and is rather noisy.

However, let’s check back with the original premise. Does the attractively built Miata deliver fun? Absolutely. Even a drive to the grocery store can wind up being a stimulating experience in this classic convertible.

I recently spent a week traveling around in the 2011 Mazda Miata. Upon delivery, I wasn’t too excited about the week ahead. Yet one normally mundane drive from work to home, a no frills journey in mild rush-hour traffic, reminded me of why people love this little car. The drive was enjoyable, a rarity for the daily commute.

The precise handling that the rear-wheel, two-seater Miata provides is first rate. With a 13-foot measurement from end to end, a height of just 49 inches, and weighing a miniscule 2,500 pounds, the lightweight Miata seemingly hugs the ground and provides the driver with a unique feeling of being totally in control in all situations.

The first commute home provided the initial reminder of total control, while a twisty, challenging country road was the clincher. With the top down on a sun-drenched Saturday, the Miata hugged the road like it had maneuvered this stretch of pavement hundreds of times before. It was communicative steering at its finest, offering instant feedback through every twist and turn.

Available with either a removable soft top or power-retractable hardtop, the Miata has been around for more than two decades, which is a nice testament to its longevity. And right now, the field of competitors isn’t all that strong. Gone are the Honda S2000, the Pontiac Solstice and the Saturn Sky, all rather petite convertibles. Vehicles like the Porsche Boxer, Mustang and BMW Z4 are more high-powered, larger convertibles with a higher sticker price as well.

Offered in four trim models, the Miata is $23,110 for the Sport model and hikes to $30,925 for the Special Edition, which is new this year. Frankly, for the additional price, I didn’t find it that “special.”

All four Miata trims have the same, 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine that produces 167 horsepower. Due to its light weight, the engine provides a lot more zip than expected, and will travel 0-60 mph in a reasonably quick 6.9 seconds.

2011 Mazda Miata Convertible

Power: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, 167 horsepower
Mileage estimate: 21-28 mpg
Price: $23,110-$30,925
Standard features include: six-speaker sound system, CD/MP3 player, six-CD changer, auxiliary audio jack; leather-wrapped steering wheel; foglights, automatic climate control; leather upholstery

The Miata offers above-average power and even provides room and comfort for such a tiny convertible. It’s a no-frills interior with gauges very legible and user-friendly controls.

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