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Consumers almost always appreciate thrills on the road, curve-hugging dynamics, and cockpit feels from behind the wheel of a sports car. Additionally, today’s sports cars don’t all come with the hefty price tags they once did. Case in point, two of the most affordable sports car options you have are the Toyota 86 and the Mazda Miata

Comparing these two peppy contenders, you’ll find a few similarities and key differentiators to consider. However, before you buy a 2022 Toyota GR86 or a Mazda MX-5 Miata, you’ll want to see what we uncovered in this head-to-head battle of affordable sports cars.

Toyota GR86 vs. Mazda MX-5 Miata: horsepower and performance 

The Toyota GR86 sports car in red and the Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster in gray
Toyota GR86 and Mazda MX-5 Miata | Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. and MAZDA NORTH AMERICAN OPERATIONS.

When these two affordable sports cars go toe-to-toe, you’ll want to see how they compare in terms of performance, including horsepower, torque, and top speeds. Here’s how things shake out between the Mazda MX-5 Miata and the Toyota GR86.

The 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata, according to Mazda, comes entirely in a rear-wheel-drive configuration and with a Skyactiv-G 2.0-liter engine. Driving this sports car will have you harness 181 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 151 lb-ft of torque. You can experience your Mazda MX-5 Miata with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. 

The top speed for the Miata is 143 MPH. However, you won’t be guzzling gas to go fast since this little Mazda boasts EPA ratings of 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. With a tank capacity of over 11 gallons, that’s a solid range of performance driving for a sports car.

Equally impressive is the 2022 Toyota GR86. Toyota specs say the 86 comes with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine. The performance is more impressive, with 228 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and the torque rated at 184 lb-ft. Like its Miata counterpart, the Toyota GR86 also offers a manual and automatic transmission.

The top speed for the 2022 Toyota GR86, according to Toyota, is 140 mph. The GR86 can sprint a quarter-mile in under 15 seconds, says TopSpeed. The Toyota earns EPA ratings of up to 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, with a stick shift on the fuel efficiency side of things. However, the Toyota GR86 requires premium fuel, adding to the cost of ownership.

Toyota GR86 vs. Mazda MX-5 Miata: cargo and passenger space

So, how do these two affordable sports cars compare when it comes to cargo, passenger amenities, and safety? The 2022 Mazda MX-5 is still a tiny performer, with 37.4 inches of headroom and 43.1 inches of legroom for the only two passengers allowed. Additionally, it features a small cargo capacity of only 4.6 cubic feet. 

The safety roster for the new Mazda MX-5 Miata is substantial, and every version comes with door beams, airbags, and some i-Activsense features. You’ll have blind-spot monitoring, Smart City Brake Support, rear cross-traffic alerts, and lane-departure warnings, too. Furthermore, this year’s big addition is the Kinematic Posture Control feature that provides better stability in the turns.

The amenity list for the Mazda is impressive, as well, including the Club trim level that adds sport-tuned Bilstein dampers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a Bose premium audio system, and black 17-inch stylish wheels. Meanwhile, the Grand Touring trim brings heated leather seats, auto-dimming mirrors, and traffic sign recognition, too. You’ll have your choice of a soft-top or retractable hardtop at this level.

Climbing into a 2022 Toyota GR86, you’ll have 41.5 inches of front legroom for the two adult passengers. There is a second row, but with only 29.9 inches of legroom. Its small cargo capacity offers 6.2 cubic feet of trunk space, perfect for a suitcase, especially with the rear seats folded down. 

The Toyota GR86 enjoys robust safety features, including adaptive cruise, lane-departure warnings, collision warning, and dual cameras for EyeSight monitoring. Bumping up to the Premium trim means adding the aluminum pedals and heated leather seats, too, which Car and Driver loved.

Warranties for these two sports cars may help you make your purchasing decision. Toyota outlines coverage that includes a 36-month/36,000-mile limited warranty, a 36-month/36,000 basic coverage, a 60-month/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and a 60-month/unlimited miles of coverage for rust-through protection.

According to Mazda, the 2022 MX-5 Miata will come with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain coverage, and a three-year/36,000-mile roadside assistance program.

Which affordable sports car comes out ahead?

Sorting through the differences between the 2022 Toyota GR86 and the 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata, you may conclude there is no clear victor here, but it depends on what type of driver you are and what kind of driving experience you’re looking for. The Toyota is your best option in power, overall performance, and extras. However, the Mazda is user-friendly, more fuel-efficient, and a little less intense for an affordable sports cars option for the everyday driver. Take a test drive of these affordable sports cars and see what you think!


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