2020 Porsche 718 Boxster vs. 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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Both the 718 Boxster 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, available crash mitigating brakes and blind spot warning systems.

The Porsche 718 Boxster weighs 448 to 865 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.

Warranty

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The 718 Boxster 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 718 Boxster’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the MX-5 Miata’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

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To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the 718 Boxster has a standard 175-amp alternator. The MX-5 Miata’s 100-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the 718 Boxster is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 718 Boxster’s 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’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Porsche vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Porsche second in reliability, above the industry average. With 51 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 21st.

Engine

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The 718 Boxster’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 119 more horsepower (300 vs. 181) and 129 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 151) than the MX-5 Miata’s 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder. The 718 Boxster S’ standard 2.5 turbo 4-cylinder produces 169 more horsepower (350 vs. 181) and 158 lbs.-ft. more torque (309 vs. 151) than the MX-5 Miata’s 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder. The 718 Spyder’s standard 4.0 GT3 6-cylinder produces 233 more horsepower (414 vs. 181) and 158 lbs.-ft. more torque (309 vs. 151) than the MX-5 Miata’s 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder.

As tested in Car and Driver the Porsche 718 Boxster is faster than the Mazda MX-5 Miata (manual transmissions tested):

718 Boxster 2.0

718 Boxster S

MX-5 Miata

Zero to 60 MPH

4.4 sec

4.3 sec

5.7 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

10.6 sec

9.8 sec

16.1 sec

Quarter Mile

13 sec

12.6 sec

14.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

109 MPH

113 MPH

95 MPH

Top Speed

170 MPH

n/a

130 MPH

The flat cylinder configuration of the boxer engine in the 718 Boxster lowers its center of gravity, enhancing handling stability. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a boxer engine configuration.

Fuel Economy and Range

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An engine control system that can shut down some of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the 718 Boxster Spyder’s fuel efficiency. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

Regenerative brakes improve the 718 Boxster’s 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 718 Boxster’s 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 718 Boxster’s standard fuel tank has 2.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the MX-5 Miata (14.2 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The 718 Boxster’s optional fuel tank has 5 gallons more fuel capacity than the MX-5 Miata (16.9 vs. 11.9 gallons).

Transmission

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A seven-speed automatic (SMG) is available on the Porsche 718 Boxster, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the MX-5 Miata.

The 718 Boxster offers an optional sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer an SMG.

A standard “hill holder” feature keeps the Porsche 718 Boxster with manual transmission from rolling backwards on a steep slope. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a hill holder feature.

The 718 Boxster PDK’s optional 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 Porsche 718 Boxster Spyder 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 718 Boxster’s brake rotors are larger than those on the MX-5 Miata:

Boxster

Boxster opt.

Spyder

Spyder opt.

MX-5 Miata

Front Rotors

13 inches

13.8 inches

15 inches

16.1 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13.8 inches

15 inches

15.4 inches

11 inches

The 718 Boxster’s 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 718 Boxster offers optional heat-treated ceramic brake rotors, which last ten to twenty times as long as conventional cast iron rotors, don’t rust, don’t fade during repeated high speed braking, and their lighter weight contribute to better braking, handling and acceleration. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer ceramic brake rotors.

The 718 Boxster stops much shorter than the MX-5 Miata:

718 Boxster

MX-5 Miata

70 to 0 MPH

143 feet

175 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

98 feet

116 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

119 feet

133 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the 718 Boxster has larger standard tires than the MX-5 Miata (F:235/45R18 & R:265/45R18 vs. 195/50R16). The 718 Boxster’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the MX-5 Miata (F:245/35R20 & R:305/30R20 vs. 205/45R17).

The 718 Boxster’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the MX-5 Miata Sport’s standard 50 series tires. The 718 Boxster’s optional 245/35R20 front and 305/30R20 rear tires have a lower 35 series front and 30 series rear profile than the MX-5 Miata Club/Grand Touring’s 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 718 Boxster has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the MX-5 Miata Sport. The 718 Boxster’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the MX-5 Miata Club/Grand Touring.

The Porsche 718 Boxster’s 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.

Suspension and Handling

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The 718 Boxster 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 718 Boxster offers optional 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 718 Boxster’s wheelbase is 6.5 inches longer than on the MX-5 Miata (97.4 inches vs. 90.9 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the 718 Boxster is 1.1 inches wider in the front and 1.2 inches wider in the rear than the track on the MX-5 Miata.

The 718 Boxster S handles at 1.10 G’s, while the MX-5 Miata Grand Touring pulls only .89 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The 718 Boxster S executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 3.3 seconds quicker than the MX-5 Miata Grand Touring (23.1 seconds @ .89 average G’s vs. 26.4 seconds @ .67 average G’s).

Cargo Capacity

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The 718 Boxster has a much larger trunk than the MX-5 Miata (9.7 vs. 4.6 cubic feet).

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the 718 Boxster’s available trunk can be opened just by holding your hand near the emblem on the trunk, leaving your hands completely free. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

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The 718 Boxster 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 718 Boxster 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.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Porsche service is better than Mazda. J.D. Power ranks Porsche first in service department satisfaction. With an 82% lower rating, Mazda is ranked 25th.

Ergonomics

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When three different drivers share the 718 Boxster, the optional memory system makes it convenient for all three. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, steering wheel position, outside mirror angle and climate settings. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a memory system.

The 718 Boxster’s optional easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The 718 Boxster’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The MX-5 Miata does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The 718 Boxster’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch. The MX-5 Miata has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.

The 718 Boxster’s 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.

In case of a sudden change of weather, the 718 Boxster has a standard 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.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 718 Boxster offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The 718 Boxster 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 718 Boxster’s 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 718 Boxster with available tilt-down mirrors 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.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the 718 Boxster keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the 718 Boxster’s 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 718 Boxster’s optional 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 with a charcoal activated canister removes pollen, exhaust fumes and other pollutants from the 718 Boxster’s passenger compartment. This helps prevent lung and/or sinus irritation which can trigger allergies or asthma. The MX-5 Miata’s air conditioner doesn’t offer a filtration system.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the 718 Boxster PDK offers an optional Adaptive 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.

Model Availability

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The Porsche 718 comes in coupe and convertible bodystyles; the Mazda MX-5 Miata isn’t available as a coupe.

Economic Advantages

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The 718 Boxster will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the 718 Boxster will retain 57.09% to 60.51% of its original price after five years, while the MX-5 Miata only retains 43.6% to 45.39%.

Recommendations

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Consumer Reports® recommends both the Porsche 718 Boxster and the Mazda MX-5 Miata, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Boxster was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 15 of the last 16 years. The MX-5 Miata hasn’t been picked since 2019.

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