2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata vs. 2019 Subaru BRZ

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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 BRZ 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 BRZ doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The MX-5 Miata’s optional blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The BRZ doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

To help make backing safer, the MX-5 Miata’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The BRZ doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The MX-5 Miata has standard E911 Automatic Emergency Notification, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The BRZ doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the MX-5 Miata and the BRZ 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 and rearview cameras.

Reliability

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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mazda 22nd in initial quality. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 28th.

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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mazda 14th in reliability. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 24th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mazda third in reliability. Subaru is ranked fourth.

Engine

As tested in Motor Trend the Mazda MX-5 Miata is faster than the Subaru BRZ (manual transmissions tested):

 

MX-5 Miata

BRZ

Zero to 60 MPH

5.7 sec

6.4 sec

Quarter Mile

14.4 sec

14.9 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the MX-5 Miata gets better fuel mileage than the BRZ:

 

 

MX-5 Miata

BRZ

 

Manual

26 city/34 hwy

21 city/29 hwy

 

Auto

26 city/35 hwy

24 city/33 hwy

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Mazda MX-5 Miata uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The BRZ requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Brakes and Stopping

The MX-5 Miata stops much shorter than the BRZ:

 

MX-5 Miata

BRZ

 

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

165 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

109 feet

120 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

The MX-5 Miata has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The BRZ’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The MX-5 Miata Club handles at .97 G’s, while the BRZ Limited pulls only .90 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the MX-5 Miata’s turning circle is 4.6 feet tighter than the BRZ’s (30.8 feet vs. 35.4 feet).

Chassis

The Mazda MX-5 Miata may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 to 450 pounds less than the Subaru BRZ.

The MX-5 Miata is 1 foot shorter than the BRZ, making the MX-5 Miata easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The MX-5 Miata's optional power retractable hardtop allows a seamless transition from an open car, to a completely sealed coupe. The BRZ doesn’t offer a retractable hardtop.

Cargo Capacity

A standard locking center console (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the MX-5 Miata. The BRZ doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Servicing Ease

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the MX-5 Miata to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes and tire rotation based on actual driving conditions. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Subaru doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the BRZ.

Ergonomics

The MX-5 Miata Grand Touring’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The BRZ’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 BRZ doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the MX-5 Miata Grand Touring has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The BRZ doesn’t offer cornering lights.

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 BRZ offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The MX-5 Miata has a standard center folding armrest for the driver and front passenger. A center armrest helps combat driver fatigue. The BRZ doesn’t offer a front seat center armrest.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Mazda MX-5 Miata and the Subaru BRZ, based on reliability, safety and performance.

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its August 2015 issue and the Mazda MX-5 Miata Club won out over the Subaru BRZ.

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 BRZ isn’t in the top three.

The MX-5 Miata was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 16 of the last 28 years. The BRZ hasn’t been picked since 2013.

The MX-5 Miata was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” for 8 of the last 25 years. The BRZ hasn’t been picked since 2014.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata outsold the Subaru BRZ by over two to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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