The Mazda Miata has been one of the most loved small convertible sports cars on the market since it was first introduced in 1998. The small body and strong engine have made it one of the most corner-loving vehicles on the road, with all car lovers owning one at least once.
In 2021 the Mazda MX-5 Miata still has one of the best feels on the road, with a small body and a sleek design that has enchanted many drivers worldwide. The starting price of the Miata is one of the biggest attractions to the car, at only $26 830 for the base model.
However, the top trim level with every option installed is at $40 200, making it compete with some of the larger engine sports cars on the market. There are three base trim models to choose from, the Sport at $26 830, the Club at $30 290, and the Grand Touring at $31 770.
Regardless of the option that you pick, your Miata will have a 181 horsepower 2.0-liter engine capable of making the small car drive comfortably on the road or the track. The engine easily provides 151-pound feet of torque, all going towards the rear wheels.
Regardless of the options, you have chosen, the Miata will get 26 mpg in the city while achieving an efficient 35 mpg. However, the Miata is meant to be used as a combination between a track day car and a normal shopping car; however, it will not function well as a grocery car.
The interior dimensions of the Miata make it clear that the small vehicle is meant for bachelor or young couples still starting their lives together.
- Front Head Room – 37.4 Inches
- Front Leg Room – 43.1 Inches
- Front Shoulder Room – 52.2 Inches
- Trunk Volume – 4.59 ft3
Although the interior is small, the infotainment system included with all trim levels of the Miata makes it an easy choice to make. As standard, it now includes Bluetooth and connectivity options for mobile phones to connect easily.
However, extra options such as a head-up display and a full navigation system can set you back several thousand extras on your overall price. Fortunately, the base system has one of the best sounds on small cars, giving a full surround sound experience whether the roof is raised or not.
The Miata also includes standard steering wheel controls, a trip computer, keyless entry, cruise control, and a backup camera. Included with the sound system, you will have as standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with an Aux port for phone models that can still support it.
The Top Three Alternatives to the Mazda Miata
While the Mazda MX-5 Miata has long been one of the best options for small convertible sports cars, several competitors have been released onto the market over the years. Each of the alternatives brings something different to the market that has made them loved by many drivers.
We have three of the top ones listed here, each one being a direct competitor to the type of small sports car that Mazda has perfected in the MX-5 Miata. It is important to know all your options before you simply purchase something that might not be the right fit for you.
1. Audi TT Roadster
The Audi TT has long been one of the main competitors against the Miata, both being introduced in 1998 with similar options that have made them race around the same tracks. The Audi TT now comes in-stock standard at $49 800, which puts its price a lot higher than all of its direct competitors.
However, with this price, you get a lot more at standard than most other cars in the class, with the first big difference between the top and standard model being the engine. The standard TT has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that provides 228 horsepower, with the additional option being a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder with 394 horsepower.
Using the Quattro system, all TTs have a fully automatic dual-clutch transmission that converts the power into all four wheels. The standard Audi TT does a respectable 23 mpg when driving in the city and an affordable 30 mpg when driving on the highway.
The TT has optional performance and appearance packages that can be added, each one adding more to the total cost. However, as standard, the TT has almost every infotainment system that Audi can provide, including Bluetooth, CarPlay, Android Auto, Aux ports, and backup cameras.
- Front Head Room – 37.1 Inches
- Front Leg Room – 41.1 Inches
- Front Shoulder Room – 53.6 Inches
- Rear Head Room – 33.8 Inches
- Rear Leg Room – 28.9 Inches
- Rear Shoulder Room – 47.9 Inches
- Trunk Volume – 7.5 ft3 (Convertible)
2. Chevrolet Camaro 1LE
The Camaro is one of the favorite convertible sports cars in the US market as it is from a local manufacturer, making it an easy option. The 2022 Camaro is slotted to have a starting price of $25 000, which can quickly go up to $69 000.
The engine options of the Camaro are what has made it one of the most widely used track day cars in the US as it can be modified to go quickly down any straight. As standard, it has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that provides 275 horsepower. However, a 3.6-liter V6 engine provides 284 horsepower, a 6.2-liter V8 engine that provides 455 horsepower, and a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine that provides 650 horsepower.
All of this power is connected to a rear-wheel-drive drivetrain with an optional fully automatic gearbox. As standard, the Camaro has a six-speed manual gearbox, with the automatic gearbox coming in two configurations, eight-speed or ten-speed.
At standard, the Camaro does not have a lot of features, being rather sparse compared to any of its competitors. The sound system only comes standard with an aux port, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and an MP3 player, with the AM/FM radio being an optional extra that needs to be added.
The only benefit is that it does come with a hand-free communication system and climate control; however, the Bluetooth may be limited to only allowing calls.
- Front Head Room – 38.5 Inches
- Front Leg Room – 43.9 Inches
- Front Shoulder Room – unknown
- Trunk Volume – 7.3 ft3 (Convertible)
3. Mercedes-Benz SLC
One of the oldest cars that can still compete with the Miata, the SLC was previously known as the SLK. In 2016 it was given a facelift to accommodate the changing landscape of small sports vehicles, with new trim levels introduced and the name change being implemented to get in line with the rest of the Mercedes-Benz lineup.
As standard, the SLC has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 241 horsepower with a high price range of $49 950. This has made it one of the highest-priced small sports cars on the market, with the upgraded twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine easily producing 385 horsepower, at the price of $64 560.
The only transmission option for the SLC is the fully automatic nine-speed that provides power to the rear wheels. It should be noted that at the standard, the interior is filled with leather upholstery and that changes will cost extra, with the AMG line having the most accessories as standard.
As there has been no real update to the vehicle since it was introduced in 2011, the SLC suffers from some outdated interior features that will need to be updated to keep it relevant. Every option for the radio is optional, including having the radio itself installed in the vehicle, making the SLC outdated with the comfort options it has.
- Front Head Room – 38 Inches
- Front Leg Room – 42.5 Inches
- Front Shoulder Room – 52.2 inches
- Trunk Volume – 6.5 ft3 (Convertible)
Five More Vehicles Similar to the Mazda Miata
Now that we know the top three contenders for the Miata, we need to look at the other; there are several cars currently on the market that fall into the small sports car category. Many of them have been made to directly compete with the Miata, some from other Asian manufacturers.
It is important to know which ones might be more affordable, have newer features, or come standard with an engine that provides more power than you may need. These cars have each found a niche in the car world that has made them loved, with many being used almost exclusively on the track.
The Z series of cars from Nissan has long been one of the world’s most loved small and compact sports cars. Since the first Z models were introduced, the car has grabbed the imagination of drivers worldwide thanks to its sleek looks and the ability to be changed into something unique.
The Nissan 370Z had a price range of $37 101 to $52 234, making it both affordable on the low-end and rather expensive at the high end. While it is still in development, the new Z vehicles will have the same price tag with slightly different engines to adhere to modern restrictions.
Currently, the 370s has two engine options that you can choose from; the 3.7-liter V6, 332 horsepower engine, is the most common. The Nismo has the same engine that has been tuned and slightly upgraded to produce 350 horsepower to give more power.
Because the 370Z is slightly out of date, it includes a few basic features but lacks more modern features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The manual includes cruise control, steering wheel controls, a backup camera, auto headlights, and climate control.
- Front Head Room – 38.2 Inches
- Front Leg Room – 42.9 Inches
- Front Shoulder Room – 54.4 inches
- Trunk Volume – 6.9 ft3 (Convertible)
The Subaru BRZ is one of the models that compete with the Miata on a level playing field, with a similar price tag and a brand new redesign for 2022. Several parts to the BRZ have made it just as loved as the Miata, with several car enthusiasts moving to the small powerhouse specifically because of its affordability.
The BRZ has a starting price of only $27 995, which rises to a max of $32 295, with only one engine option in the familiar boxer engine configuration from Subaru. The BRZ has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder 228 horsepower engine that is easily capable of a speedy solution around a track.
However, off the track, the BRZ easily fits in with most other road vehicles, achieving 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. The automatic option does better than the manual, achieving 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg when driving on the highway.
Most BRZs have the same internal creature features, including cruise control, backup camera, keyless start, steering wheel controls, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and auto headlights. Further, the BRZ as a standard includes climate control and other features that other outdated cars may not have.
- Front Head Room – 37 Inches
- Front Leg Room – 41.5 Inches
- Front Shoulder Room – 53.6 inches
- Rear Head Room – 33.5 Inches
- Rear Leg Room – 29.9 Inches
- Rear Shoulder Room – 51.7 inches
- Trunk Volume – 6.3 ft3 (Convertible)
Part of the expensive crowd of small convertible supercars, the BMW Z4 is a more high-end and powerful alternative to the Miata. While it will cost more to buy, it can provide a lot more luxury than the Miata, which is why it should be considered when looking for a small convertible sports car.
With a starting price at the high end of $49 900 and the highest price being $63 700, it is easy to see why many enthusiasts only think about getting one with their financials sorted. The Z4 provides a lot more luxury, with even the lowest tier model having several features and engine options that alternatives don’t have.
The Z4 comes standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder 255 horsepower engine that powers an eight-speed automatic transmission. While the higher-end models can have a 3.0-liter six-cylinder straight-line engine that produces 382 horsepower towards the same automatic transmission.
These two engines are not aimed at being economical as in the city; the smaller 2.0-liter engine only does 25 mpg while it does 32 mpg on the highway. The larger 3.0-liter engine does 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg when on the highway, which means it is not the most efficient option to choose from.
As the Z4 is considered a luxury sports car and a smaller convertible sports car, it has every feature at the base that you can expect from it. Cruise control, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, backup camera, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, internal hard drive, full climate control, and satellite radio.
- Front Head Room – 39.9 Inches
- Front Leg Room – 42.2 Inches
- Front Shoulder Room – 54.3 inches
- Trunk Volume – 9.9 ft3 (Convertible)
Abarth 124 Spider
The Abarth 124 Spider, also known as the Fiat 124 Spider, is one of the most probable to be seen as a direct competitors to the Miata. However, it suffers from several missing features, weak engine performance, and reliability issues that have seen it dropping to the bottom of most lists.
When considering the price, the Spider shows its first flaws that accompany its build, with a starting price much higher than similar cars on the market. A base model will set you back $27 576, and the highest-end model will be $31 874, which means that it bleeds over into higher-end convertible sports cars.
The Spider has a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower on the base model, with the Abarth model only adding four more horsepower. When it comes to efficiency, the small size means that it does 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg when driving on the highway.
Despite the price tag for the base model, the features are rather lacking compared to other cars on the market. With a backup camera, cruise control, normal A/C, and a normal AM/FM stereo system being the only noteworthy internal features, Bluetooth communication is an optional extra.
- Front Head Room – 37.4 Inches
- Front Leg Room – 43.1 Inches
- Front Shoulder Room –52.1 inches
- Trunk Volume – 4.9 ft3 (Convertible)
The Audi A3 is the perfect in-between from the Miata to the Z4; it has the same handling as the Miata with a price tag that can be very competitive. Several people have found that the A3 is a perfect option when looking for something more luxurious than the Miata or other competitors.
The A3 starts at a reasonable price of only $33 900 that goes to the high of $44 900, which means that it starts at the price point where the Miata ends and goes up to a much higher level. The A3s price indicates the total amount of luxury that you can get from it and the total amount of power options.
As standard, the A3 comes with a 2.0-liter 201-horsepower four-cylinder engine connected to the standard seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The S3 has a 306-horsepower engine while the sportier RS3 has a 401-horsepower engine, with the base model getting 29 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway.
Audi leans on the more well-equipped side of cars, with even the base model including cruise control, auto headlights, steering wheel controls, backup camera, and keyless entry. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, climate control AM/FM radio, and several other creature features included.
- Front Head Room – 37.4 Inches
- Front Leg Room – 41.2 Inches
- Front Shoulder Room – 54.8 inches
- Rear Head Room – 36.3 Inches
- Rear Leg Room – 31.9 Inches
- Rear Shoulder Room – 45.7 inches
- Trunk Volume – 9.9 ft3 (Convertible)
The Mazda MX-5 Miata has been one of the best small sports cars that allows you to drive along the ocean with the top off or race around a track. It has long been one of the staples of small sports cars that you should own if you plan on becoming a proper petrolhead, especially with the upgraded engines.
All car details were gathered from the car manufacturer’s website, along with internal dimensions.