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The MX-5 Miata offers optional crash mitigation brakes, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Beetle doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.
The MX-5 Miata’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The Beetle doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.
Both the MX-5 Miata and the Beetle have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.
The MX-5 Miata comes with free roadside assistance for 3 years 36,000 miles. Mazda will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Beetle.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mazda vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mazda 22nd in initial quality. With 3 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 24th.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mazda 14th in reliability. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 19th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mazda 4 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.
The MX-5 Miata’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 7 more horsepower (181 vs. 174) than the Beetle’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.
On the EPA test cycle the MX-5 Miata Auto gets better highway fuel mileage than the Beetle Dune (26 city/35 hwy vs. 26 city/34 hwy).
The MX-5 Miata offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The Beetle doesn’t offer a manual transmission.
The MX-5 Miata stops much shorter than the Beetle:
70 to 0 MPH
Car and Driver
The MX-5 Miata Sport’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Beetle’s standard 60 series tires.
The MX-5 Miata has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Beetle’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.
The MX-5 Miata’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (50.4% to 49.6%) than the Beetle’s (59.3% to 40.7%). This gives the MX-5 Miata more stable handling and braking.
The MX-5 Miata Club handles at .90 G’s, while the Beetle Dune Convertible pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.
For better maneuverability, the MX-5 Miata’s turning circle is 4.6 feet tighter than the Beetle’s (30.8 feet vs. 35.4 feet).
The Mazda MX-5 Miata may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 700 to 800 pounds less than the Volkswagen Beetle.
The MX-5 Miata is 1 foot, 2.3 inches shorter than the Beetle, making the MX-5 Miata easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
The MX-5 Miata is 9.4 inches shorter in height than the Beetle, making the MX-5 Miata much easier to wash and garage and drive (lower center of gravity).
The MX-5 Miata's optional power retractable hardtop allows a seamless transition from an open car, to a completely sealed coupe. The Beetle doesn’t offer a retractable hardtop.
The engine in the MX-5 Miata is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Beetle. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.
The MX-5 Miata’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children from operating them. Volkswagen does not offer a locking feature on the Beetle’s power windows.
While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the MX-5 Miata Grand Touring detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Beetle doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.
The Beetle (except S/Coast)’s optional cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The MX-5 Miata Grand Touring’s standard adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.
The MX-5 Miata Grand Touring has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Beetle offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
The MX-5 Miata’s standard steering wheel mounted cruise control is close at hand. The Beetle’s standard cruise control is on an over-crowded turn signal stalk.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the MX-5 Miata is less expensive to operate than the Beetle because it costs $54 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the MX-5 Miata than the Beetle, including $222 less for a water pump, $276 less for a muffler, $185 less for a starter, $98 less for fuel injection and $402 less for a timing belt/chain.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the MX-5 Miata second among compact sporty cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Beetle isn’t in the top three in its category.
The MX-5 Miata was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 15 of the last 27 years. The Beetle has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.
The MX-5 Miata was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” for 8 of the last 24 years. The Beetle hasn’t been picked since 2000.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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