At last, the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata is finally here to put an end to years of speculation over its new design. Sure, details surrounding its engine and the amenities it will come with are still under wraps, but that didn’t stop us from having an argument about what impact will the 2016 Miata have on the sports car market once it hits showrooms. While most of us agree the Miata is a rather unique vehicle, we do know the Japanese roadster faces stiff competition from larger and sometime more powerful convertibles .
Of course, if you’re a Miata enthusiast, then it’s likely you’re not even considering what other manufacturers have to offer. But it’s not that of a bad idea to know how the fourth-generation MX-5 stacks up against its main competitors, which mostly come from either Japan or Germany. So what nameplates should fear the new Miata’s arrival in late 2015? Read on to find out.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata and its competitors
Although not many enthusiasts consider the TT Roadster a proper competitor for the Miata, this German sports car should definitely be taken into account. It has an attractive exterior design, one of the most luxurious interior in its segment, and a powerful four-cylinder engine. The turbocharged unit displaces only 2.0 liters, but it’s strong enough to generate 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Not too shabby, but not exactly outstanding considering the TT Roadster tips the scales at 3,340 pounds, making it nearly 1,200 pounds heavier than the Miata.
However, by the time the new MX-5 arrives, Audi will also have the third-generation TT Roadster in U.S. dealerships. The revised convertible will likely weight less and benefit from a few extra ponies, which will result in an enhanced power-to-weight ratio and fuel economy of more than 31 mpg on the highway. On the flip side, the TT Roadster is way too expensive when compared to the Miata. Its 2014 model year sticker sits at $43,350 and it’s safe to assume pricing will increase for the redesigned model.
Gallery Audi TT Roadster
Straight from Mini’s fancy lineup of Coopers comes the Roadster. An oddball in the company’s lineup, the Mini Roadster tosses the rear seats in favor of more trunk space and a reduced overall weight. Although it takes the exact same platform from the Cooper and Cooper Convertible, the Roadster is lighter than its siblings, tipping the scales at only 2,635 pounds. It’s still heavier than the new MX-5 Miata, but it boasts more cargo space than the Japanese drop-top, and a superior power-to-weight ratio. But only when selected in its Cooper S trim and when compared to the NC-generation Miata. The lack of specs for the ND Miata prevents us from coming up with a proper comparison.
Three versions are available in the U.S., with each of them motivated by a turbocharged, 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine. While the base model and its 121 ponies is a little slow for the Miata, an "S" badge will put the Roadster right up the Mazda’s alley. The mid-range model comes with 181 horses and 177 pound-feet of torque on tap, which translates into a 0-to-60-mph sprint of 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 141 mph. More power comes from the JCW version, which is highly recommended considering the new Miata is rumored to boast around 200 ponies. The John Cooper Works drop-top gets 208 horsepower and 207 pound-feet, which slashes the 0-to-60 mph benchmark to only 6.3 seconds. The Mini Roadster retails from $26,100, but the S trim fetches at least $29,100. Lastly, the JCW version wears a $36,250 sticker.
Gallery Mini Roadster
Next up is the Nissan 370Z Roadster, yet another driver’s car coming from Japan. Updated for the 2013 model year, the 370Z is known for its excellent handling, a rev-matching manual transmission, and powerful V-6 engine. Add the high-quality interior, and 370Z becomes quite a thrilling sports car. Only one engine is currently available, a 3.7-liter V-6 rated at 332 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. The oomph pushes the roadster from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and up to a top speed of 155 mph.
Like most of its rivals, the 370Z is also heavier than the Miata at 3,232 pounds, but expect the Nissan to go to fat camp for the second-generation model. Pricing for the 2015 model year 370Z Roaster starts from $41,820, about $17,000 more than the current Miata. Ouch!
Gallery Nissan 370Z Roadster
Although the BMW Z4 is actually a head-to-head rival for the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class, the German two-seat roadster can be a fancier option to the MX-5 Miata. Need a luxurious interior, a badge that speaks for itself and more than 200 turbocharged horses to the rear wheels? Then the Z4 is what you’re looking for, but only if you have some extra cash to throw around. The Bimmer doesn’t come cheap at $48,950, and for that you only get the 240-horsepower base model. The next trim, which comes with 300 ponies, fetches at least $56,950.
Sure, the Z4 is a nice summer ride with plenty of engines and choices, but it also has a comfortable ride, a fuel-efficient base engine, and a quick-folding hardtop. But there’s at least one details that stops it from being the driver’s car the Miata is. In spite of BMW ’s recent efforts, its models are still pretty heavy, and the Z4 is no exception at more than 3,200 pounds. Of course, that might not matter to customers looking to buy a sporty convertible, but it’s unacceptable to someone looking for a no-nonsense sports car.
Gallery BMW Z4
Our last competitor comes with a fixed, metal top, but it’s the perfect competitor for the MX-5 Miata as far as performance numbers and pricing go. Both the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S, which weigh in at around 2,700 pounds, are powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine that makes 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The unit mates to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic and send power to the rear wheels.
The Subaru BRZ can charge from 0 to 60 mph in as quick as 6.7 seconds with a manual gearbox, but the benchmark falls into seven-second territory with an automatic. The BRZ costs from $26,490 including delivery for the 2015 model year, while the Scion FR-S retails from $24,900 with a stick. Updates for both vehicles are in the pipeline, so expect more power and technology over the next couple of years.