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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Takes on 2017 Toyota 86 on Head 2 Head

Bonus: Can they beat a Hellcat around the track?

Alex Nishimoto
Jun 1, 2017

Every time we compare a Mazda MX-5 Miata and one of the Toyobaru twins, we have a hard time naming a winner. The two purist sports cars both offer so much fun for the money that it's difficult to choose one over the other. Now Mazda has a new retractable targa-top MX-5 RF and Toyota has a reincarnated and revised Scion FR-S called the 2017 Toyota 86, so we can once again endeavor to find out which is the better budget sports car on Head 2 Head.

On paper, the 86 has the power advantage at 205 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque. But the Miata RF is more than 300 pounds lighter than the Toyota, so its 155 hp and 148 lb-ft is enough to keep up. Hosts Jonny Lieberman and Jason Cammisa begin arguing about styling. They find flaws in each and ultimately can't decide which one is the better design, so they head for the hills to compare the experience behind the wheel. That turns out to be too close to call as well, so they call on Motor Trend's own Randy Pobst to decide a winner at the track. With nearly identical lap times, however, that again turns out to be a difficult task.

2018 Toyota 86
$26,455 Base Model (MSRP) 21/28 MPG Fuel Economy

Just for kicks, Lieberman sees if he can beat either car around the track in MT's long-term Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat a car that has as much power as four and a half Miatas. Find out if brute force can beat balance and finesse, and learn the winner of this comparison, in the full episode below.

By Alex Nishimoto
195 Articles

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