2022 Toyota GR86 vs Mazda MX-5 Miata: A Real-World Comparison

If you’re looking for a compact, two-seat sports car, then there are two clear choices on the market: the 2022 Toyota GR86 and the Mazda MX-5 Miata. One is a coupe and the other is a convertible. One is the love child between two Japanese automakers while the other has achieved legendary status over the past 30 years.

I have had the pleasure of testing both of these cars in the past year and can say that they are both an utter joy to drive every day. However, I personally prefer one over the other. Here is my quick comparison between the GR86 and the MX-5 Miata.

1. The Toyota GR86 is a more comfortable daily driver than the Mazda MX-5 Miata

A front corner view of the 2022 Toyota GR86 on an empty road.
A front corner view of the 2022 Toyota GR86 on an empty road. | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

RELATED: Is the Mazda MX-5 Miata a ‘Girl’s Car?’

Let’s be clear, the 2022 Toyota GR86 is a 2+2 seater, however, the rear seat is practically unusable for most adults. Children can definitely fit back there, but during my time with the car, I mainly used it for extra storage space. That being said, I consider it a two-seater.

Also, I found the GR86 to be more comfortable to drive than the MX-5 on a daily basis. The seats feel more comfortable and the cabin space offers more head and legroom for the front seat occupants. The GR86 is also easier to get in and out of, which says a lot for a small coupe.

2. The Mazda MX-5 looks sharper than the GR86 and it offers open-air fun

2022 Mazda MX-5 rear view
2022 Mazda MX-5 rearview | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Aesthetics are definitely subjective when it comes to any car, however, I think the Mazda MX-5 looks sharper than the GR86. Maybe it’s the flying buttresses of the MX-5 RF or the sculpted hood and body panels. But whatever the case, I liked the MX-5’s more aggressive look more. Also, if you’re into having open-air fun, then the answer is Miata.

On the other hand, the Toyota GR86 isn’t even available with a sunroof.

3. Fuel economy is about the same between both cars

2022 Toyota GR86 engine
The Toyota GR86 comes standard with a 2.4-liter engine. | Toyota

According to fueleconomy.gov, the manual-transmission 2022 GR86 is able to get up to 22 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. The Mazda MX-5 with a manual transmission is able to get up to 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. In my real-world testing, I averaged around 26 mpg in both cars during the week that I had each of them.

Why? Because when you drive either of these cars, your right foot wants to glue the accelerator to the floorboard as much as possible. (Read: they’re fun to drive, which equals worse fuel economy – especially at a mile-high elevation).

4. The cargo capacity on the GR86 is better

2022 Mazda MX-5 cargo space with a carry-on suitcase in it.
2022 Mazda MX-5 cargo space | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

If you need even a tiny bit of cargo capacity, then the Toyota GR86 is the way to go. Its trunk measures 6.26 cubic feet versus the 4.59 cubic feet of space found in the MX-5. Official stats aside, I was able to fit a small carry-on suitcase in the MX-5, but could definitely fit more in the GR86. Also, the rear seatback in the GR86 folds down for a few more cubic feet of storage space.

Overall, the choice between these two compact sports cars is clear

In case you haven’t guessed by now, I much preferred the 2022 Toyota GR86 over the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The GR86 doesn’t sacrifice sporty driving dynamics for a more comfortable ride and I like the fact that there is more storage room, even if it’s just a little bit more.

Don’t get me wrong, the 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a legend in the sports car class and it will always have a special place for me. But if you want a sports coupe that makes for an easy daily driver, then the Toyota GR86 is the way to go.

RELATED: 2021 Mazda MX-5 Review, Pricing, and Specs