2020 BMW 2 Series vs. 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/21

The 2 Series offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The 2 Series’ driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Compared to metal, the 2 Series’ plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mazda MX-5 Miata has a metal gas tank.

Both the 2 Series and the MX-5 Miata 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 and available rear parking sensors.

The BMW 2 Series weighs 887 to 1605 pounds more than the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the 2 Series the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 104 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The MX-5 Miata has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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The 2 Series comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The MX-5 Miata’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The 2 Series’ corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the MX-5 Miata’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 2 Series for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mazda doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the MX-5 Miata.

Reliability

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To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the 2 Series has a standard 170-amp alternator (210-amp - 2 Series 6 cyl.). The MX-5 Miata’s 100-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the 2 Series is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 2 Series’ battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The MX-5 Miata’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 2 Series second among small premium cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The MX-5 Miata isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 22nd, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 37 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 21st.

Engine

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The 230i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 67 more horsepower (248 vs. 181) and 107 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 151) than the MX-5 Miata’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. The M240i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 154 more horsepower (335 vs. 181) and 218 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 151) than the MX-5 Miata’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

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Regenerative brakes improve the 2 Series’ fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the 2 Series’ engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The 2 Series has 1.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the MX-5 Miata (13.7 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission and Drivetrain

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The BMW 2 Series comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the MX-5 Miata.

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW 2 Series, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the MX-5 Miata.

All wheel drive, available in the 2 Series, provides the best traction for acceleration in wet, dry, and icy conditions. In corners, all wheel drive allows both outside wheels to provide power, balancing the car. This allows for better handling. The Mazda MX-5 Miata is not available with all wheel drive.

A standard “hill holder” feature keeps the BMW 2 Series with manual transmission from rolling backwards on a steep slope. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a hill holder feature.

The 2 Series Automatic’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer launch control.

The BMW 2 Series manual has a downshift rev synchronizer that automatically raises engine speed to make downshifts perfectly smooth. This keeps the car from lurching during downshifts, preventing loss of control during cornering. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a downshift rev synchronizer.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the 2 Series’ brake rotors are larger than those on the MX-5 Miata:

230i

M240i

MX-5 Miata

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

13.4 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13.6 inches

11 inches

The 2 Series’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the MX-5 Miata are solid, not vented.

The 2 Series stops much shorter than the MX-5 Miata:

2 Series

MX-5 Miata

70 to 0 MPH

155 feet

175 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

103 feet

116 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the 2 Series has larger standard tires than the MX-5 Miata (205/50R17 vs. 195/50R16). The 2 Series’ optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the MX-5 Miata (F:225/40R18 & R:245/35R18 vs. 205/45R17).

The 2 Series’ optional 225/40R18 front and 245/35R18 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series front and 35 series rear profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the MX-5 Miata Club/Grand Touring’s 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 230i has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the MX-5 Miata Sport. The 2 Series’ optional 18-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the MX-5 Miata Club/Grand Touring.

The BMW 2 Series’ wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Mazda MX-5 Miata only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 2 Series can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The 2 Series offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The MX-5 Miata’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The 2 Series has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 2 Series’ wheelbase is 15 inches longer than on the MX-5 Miata (105.9 inches vs. 90.9 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the 2 Series is 1 inch wider in the front and 2.1 inches wider in the rear than on the MX-5 Miata.

Passenger Space

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The 2 Series has standard seating for 4 passengers; the MX-5 Miata can only carry 2.

The 2 Series Convertible has 3.1 inches more front headroom and 2.2 inches more front shoulder room than the MX-5 Miata.

Cargo Capacity

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The 2 Series Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top down than the MX-5 Miata (9.9 vs. 4.6 cubic feet). The 2 Series Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top up than the MX-5 Miata (11.8 vs. 4.6 cubic feet).

With its coupe or convertible body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the 2 Series offers cargo security. The MX-5 Miata’s non-lockable remote release defeats cargo security.

Servicing Ease

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The 2 Series uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The MX-5 Miata uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

The 2 Series has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

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When two different drivers share the 2 Series, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a memory system.

The 2 Series’ front power windows open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The MX-5 Miata’s power windows’ switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.

If the front windows are left open on the 2 Series w/Comfort Access the driver can close them at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the MX-5 Miata can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

In case of a sudden change of weather, the 2 Series offers an optional remote convertible top that can be raised from a distance to protect the interior of the vehicle from damage. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a remote top, so the driver will have to run to the car, get in, turn the ignition on (with available power top) and raise the top to prevent the interior from being damaged.

The 2 Series’ rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The MX-5 Miata Sport/Club’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the 2 Series to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 2 Series offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The 2 Series has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The MX-5 Miata has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the Grand Touring.

The 2 Series’ sun-visors swivel front-to-side to block glare from the side windows. The MX-5 Miata’s visors are fixed into the windshield header.

The 2 Series’ standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Mazda only offers heated mirrors on the MX-5 Miata Grand Touring.

When the 2 Series is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The MX-5 Miata’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

On extremely cold winter days, the 2 Series’ optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The 2 Series’ standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

A built-in pollen filter removes pollen, exhaust fumes and other pollutants from the 2 Series’ passenger compartment. This helps prevent lung and/or sinus irritation, which can trigger allergies or asthma. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a filtration system.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the 2 Series Auto offers an optional Active Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The 2 Series’ optional Parking Assistant can parallel park by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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The BMW 2 Series comes in coupe and convertible bodystyles; the Mazda MX-5 Miata isn’t available as a coupe.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the 2 Series owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the 2 Series with a number “1” insurance rate while the MX-5 Miata is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 2 Series is less expensive to operate than the MX-5 Miata because typical repairs cost much less on the 2 Series than the MX-5 Miata, including $197 less for a fuel pump, $38 less for front struts and $744 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/21

Consumer Reports® recommends both the BMW 2 Series and the Mazda MX-5 Miata, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 2 Series second among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The MX-5 Miata isn’t in the top three in its category.

The BMW 2 Series outsold the Mazda MX-5 Miata by 237 units during 2018.

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

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