What is the best way to differentiate a particular model of one of the best-selling roadsters ever built? If you're Mazda, the answer is to create a limited production version of the vehicle in question - the ultra-popular Mazda Miata. This week's Chicago Auto Show features the debut of the most recent 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata Special Edition, a vehicle which offers sports car fans the chance to get behind the wheel of something just a touch more unique than their neighbor's convertible.
Most of the changes that set the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata Special Edition apart from the standard version of the roadster have to do with its looks and equipment level. Special Edition Miatas are instantly identifiable through their combination of Velocity Red Mica or Crystal White Pearl Mica paint jobs with a black retractable hard top. The Special Edition's exterior trim is completed via black mirrors and grille surround and gunmetal 17-inch wheels. Black trim can also be found throughout the Miata's interior, where the automobile's heated leather seats match the leather-wrapped steering wheel and parking brake and aluminum pedals help to offset the dark hues of the passenger compartment.
All versions of the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata Special Edition come with the Preferred Equipment Package, which offers keyless entry, Bluetooth integration, satellite radio and HID headlights. The Special Edition's engine remains a 2.0-liter, 167 horsepower four-cylinder unit that also grinds out 140 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choices include a six-speed automatic (which actually slightly reduces the Miata's power rating) or a six-speed manual.
Opting for the latter adds several important goodies to the MX-5 Miata Special Edition's equipment list in the form of the Suspension Package, which includes more aggressive springs, Bilstein shock absorbers and a limited-slip differential. The Suspension Package promises to enhance the already nimble Miata's handling with an extra dose of precision and high speed cornering capability - two of the most impressive attributes of one of the lightest sports cars currently available.
What can Mazda enthusiasts expect to pay for the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata Special Edition? The six-speed automatic version of the automobile stickers for an MSRP of $31,225, while the row-your-own model prices out as the most expensive Miata on the lot (MSRP $31,675). Such is the price of exclusivity however - although 900,000 examples of the Mazda roadster have been sold since it was first introduced in 1989, there will be only 450 Special Editions built for 2012.