Let’s face it. The Mazda MX-5 Miata and the Subaru BRZ are not cars people need. They are cars people want to own because they’re fun to drive. But which one will put a bigger smile on your face? We took the liberty of pitting the two vehicular toys against one another to determine which affordable sports car is worth the buy, and even though we named the Miata as the winner, we want to know which car you’d choose if it was up to you.
The Miata has been the go-to affordable sports car for quite some time, and was just reinvented to be even better. Compared to the last similarly equipped Club edition, this MX-5 is 186 pounds lighter thanks to a weight reduction regimen that would make Lotus' Collin Chapman proud. The reworked engine, transmission, and chassis make up an altogether better car, one we said was the “best-performing” stock Miata we’ve experienced. Resident racer Randy Pobst had some really good things to say about the MX-5, saying that he didn’t experience any understeer in the Miata, and that its shifter is quicker and slicker than the BRZ’s. But it wasn’t perfect. "The personality of the original Miata is still here, with an amazing amount of body roll -- more than the BRZ offers.”
As for the Toyobaru, it came equipped with a special Blue Series package that adds STI bits. Since the package is all visual, the BRZ keeps its 2.0-liter Boxer-four, which comes paired to a six-speed manual transmission. Driving it through winding mountain roads, we said its chassis accepts corrections more readily than the Miata’s and that it felt more flexible. Another thing the BRZ has going for it are its two rear seats and more refined cabin. Editors also liked the BRZ’s lower center of gravity, but like the Miata, it did have its downfalls. Editors didn’t like a noticeable flat spot in the BRZ's torque curve.
At the track, the 155-hp MX-5 was a half second quicker than the Subie in the 0-60 mph sprint, and 0.4 seconds ahead in the quarter mile (14.5 versus 14.9 seconds), though the BRZ caught up by 100 mph. With Brembo brakes, the Mazda stopped 5 feet shorter than the BRZ. We also discovered the Mazda produced big grip, with its 25.2-second, 0.76-g figure-eight performance besting the Subaru's by 0.5-second, 0.04-g result.
If your decision boils down to price, the cars are pretty close in that area, too. The Miata Club’s base price is $29,420, but the one we tested brought that up to $32,950. The Subaru BRZ starts at $26,490, but with all the extra goodies our tester had, it came to $30,285.
So, which of these fun rides would you choose if it were your money? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to read the full story right here.