March Madness is over, but we still are all about sports. And what better way to kick off the second quarter of the year than with a matchup between a pair of speedy competitors? Today we compare the Mazda MX-5 Miata and the 2016 Subaru BRZ.
In a world of overpriced and high-consuming sports cars, the Miata and the BRZ are two models that will show the driver that they can balance the classic look of stylish sports cars and the efficiency of a compact.
The Mazda Miata and Subaru BRZ are two coupes that are very different, yet still belong to the same category. The similarities are the cylinder count, manual transmission, and the drivetrains. However, the roof style, driving dynamics, and seat count are what differentiate these two vehicles.
2019 Subaru BRZ
The Subaru BRZ is the company’s only rear drive car, but it offers affordable thrills to awaken the driving enthusiast in you. The rear drive layout, suspension, and lightweight construction gives drivers of all ages a chance to experience a car that was once more common on the road but is now partially extinct. You could be interested in this car if you are looking for a highly stylized coupe that is small and loves to take curves. There is only 205 horsepower, so this is not a muscle car, but it is quick.
You sit low in the BRZ in a well-bolstered bucket seat. There is a 2-spoke steering wheel, shifter, and pedals that are placed perfectly for performance driving. Even the tachometer is where it should be placed, directly in front of the driver, so you can keep tabs on the engine. There are seats for four, but the back seat is too small to be useful for anything. However, it does fold flat to expand the cargo capacity and trunk space.
The BRZ is 10 inches longer than the Miata and looks substantial because of the long hood. There is a 2.0-liter boxer engine and the layout places the engine lower in the cradle to reduce the center of gravity and improve both cornering and handling. Power is routed to the rear wheels with either a 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission.
2019 Mazda Miata
The Mazda Miata is a two-seat coupe or roader that has a retractable roof and is a joy to drive. For those who want the convertible feel, the Miata is a better choice over the BRZ. This car is great for those who want better handling over horsepower. While Mazda has pumped up the horsepower for 2019, this still isn’t a muscle car.
The interior can be designed as modern and straightforward and the seat cockpit now benefits from a tilt/telescope steering wheel. The interior features an upright infotainment screen and push button start along with large A/C knobs. Mazda has designed the Miata around the driver and it feels that way, but the interior can be tight for larger drivers. There is still great pedal and shifter placement. However, if you want some storage space for a weekend getaway, you are better off with the BRZ.
The Miata is a shorter car, which makes it easier to park. The surface detailing on the aluminum body adds a modern touch, but the flared wheels and smaller LED headlights give it some attitude. The overall smallness of the vehicle can make you feel a bit vulnerable if you were to be driving down the freeway next to a semi. There is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and, with the 2019 version, there is an additional 26 horsepower for a total of 181. There is a 6-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles available but, in order to fully appreciate the vehicle, it’s best to go with the 6-speed manual transmission.
While both cars have their pros and cons, the Miata is slightly more expensive with a starting price of $32,345. The BRZ starts at $25,795. The Miata also gets more gas mileage with 26 MPG city and 34 MPG highway. The BRZ gets 21 MPG city and 29 MPG city. Both accelerate pretty quickly, with the BRZ getting up to 60 in 6.5 seconds and the Miata taking 6.2 seconds.
Previous 2016 Model Year Comparisons
Available in three manual trims and three automatic trims, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata has a much-improved gas mileage and a leaner and lighter build than its competitors. In its 2-Door Convertible Manual Sport trim, the Miata runs on a Premium Unleaded I-4 engine that can make 155 horsepower and 148 net torque while still maintaining a high fuel economy rating of 27 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.
The base 2016 Subaru BRZ 2-Door Coupe Manual Premium might not measure up to the Miata in terms of fuel economy, as it consumes an estimated 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. However, it does make up for its lost gas in engine performance. The BRZ’s Premium Unleaded H-4 engine can give the driver 200 horsepower and 151 net torque to work with.
One of the big bets Subaru made in its new generation of the BRZs is that it turned the low-priced sports model into a machine that even the most purists of speed freaks would love. Starting with how the vehicle’s power structure is designed, with the engine in the front sending power to the back in this rear-wheel drive model. This design provides the driver with improved response, which combined to the BRZ’s low center of gravity, will allow the driver to enjoy “near-perfect balance for pure sports car handling,” according to Subaru.com.
Furthermore, the BRZ’s sport-tuned suspension is also there to make the roads your playground: “The BRZ is designed to perform like a sports car should, with independent MacPherson struts in the front and independent double wishbone suspension in the back. And its Torsen® limited-slip differential provides improved grip, making it lively and dynamic through the corners.”
The Miata doesn’t stay too far behind, however. Combining safety, speed, and lightness the Miata is unparalleled in terms of design. First, when it comes to its weight. The Subaru BRZ, for example, is fast and has a powerful engine, but it has a base curb weight of 2764 pounds. The Miata, on the other hand, might not be light as a feather, but it sure is closer to it than the competition. Weighting in at 2332 pounds, the Mazda two-seater might still weight less than its competition with both of its seats filled.
It also counts with the all-new SKYACTIV-Chassis that “plays a key role in the MX-5’s nimbleness and stability,” according to Mazdausa.com.
The Miata also holds a slight edge over the BRZ when it comes to its price tag, with the base 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata 2-Door Convertible Manual Sport starting at $24,915, while the base 2016 Subaru BRZ 2-Door Coupe Manual Premium starting at $25,395.
On the other hand, the most expensive Miata should take a bigger hit on the consumer’s pocket than the most expensive BRZ. As the MX-5 Miata 2-Door Convertible Automatic Grand Touring is available starting at $31,270 and the BRZ 2-Door Coupe Automatic Limited is available starting at $28,495.