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“Hey, are you driving that Miata-looking Honda out there?” the random customer asked me.

While sitting at a coffee shop near the window, I had watched him eye my 2008 Honda S2000 in the parking lot for the past few minutes. As he walked into the shop, he saw that I was the only one sitting there and deduced that the Laguna Blue roadster was mine.

“Yup,” I replied.

Of course, I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers by telling him it’s not a Miata – a blasphemous name to throw around any S2000 owner. But alas, I’m the forgiving type. Also, I can’t blame him, considering the Mazda MX-5 Miata and the Honda S2000 have always looked similar to the untrained eye.

They also drive pretty similarly, too. After spending a week in the 2023 Mazda MX-5 Club, I found that out. And although I still dislike when people refer to my car as a “Miata,” my time in the car made me realize that it’s not that bad and there are plenty of similarities between the two convertible cars. Here’s a comparison between them.

2023 Mazda MX-5 and Honda S2000
2023 Mazda MX-5 and Honda S2000 | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club vs. 2008 Honda S2000: They’re both cute

2008 Honda S2000 and 2023 Mazda MX-5 rear view
2008 Honda S2000 and 2023 Mazda MX-5 | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Let’s cut to the chase regarding the exterior looks of both of these cars – they’re cute. I have heard many people call my Honda S2000 that, and I even received the same comments from onlookers during my time with the MX-5 Miata. They both have long noses and coupe-like silhouettes that make them look cool.

However, their tiny proportions make them look like darling little things. In reality, the Honda S2000 is nine inches longer, one inch wider, and one inch taller than the 2023 Mazda Miata. Also, its hood area is longer, which makes parking more of a pain when pulling into a parking spot with a concrete block barrier or curb. Otherwise, I think that both cars look great, which says a lot about the S2000’s design holding up for the past 23 years.

The Mazda MX-5’s interior is a little more robust than the Honda S2000’s

Getting into each of these cars is an exercise in itself. If you’re young and spry, you’ll be able to fit just fine. But if you’re taller and older, feel free to let out a grunt when shoehorning yourself into any of these cars – anyone around will understand.

Once you’re in each car, the experience is a little different. The S2000 has a cockpit-like interior in which all of the HVAC and audio controls face the driver. There’s also a radio that can be hidden, and the cupholder has a cover as well. Speaking of the cupholder, it gets in the way of your forearm when shifting, but it’s nice that you can access a drink while driving. It’s clear that Honda wanted anyone driving the S2000 to focus on driving and nothing else.

Additionally, the sport leather bucket seats are supportive and are wide enough to fit most American-sized people. They also hold you in nicely, but not as good as an aftermarket racing seat. So don’t expect that kind of support.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata, on the other hand, feels a little more robust when sitting inside it. The Recaro sport seats are comfortable and supportive, and it has a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. That infotainment system has everything you need, including satellite radio and wireless Apple Carplay/Android Auto connectivity.

My tester was also equipped with a Bose premium audio system. So it’s a no-brainer that the Mazda beats the Honda in terms of in-cabin entertainment. My only complaint is the MX-5’s cupholders, which sit between the passenger and driver’s seats and are hard to reach.

The Honda S2000 beats it in storage space, though. The S2000 has a “secret compartment” behind the center console glovebox, while the Mazda Miata does not. The S2000 also has five cubic feet of trunk space compared to the MX-5’s 4.5 cubic feet.

The interior noise readings were similar

On the road, both of these cars are loud, bumpy, and a little stiff – as they should be. They are sports cars, after all. That said, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is a bit quieter at all speeds. According to my decibel meter, the MX-5 and S2000 measured noise readings ranging from the high 70s to the low 90s, depending on the car’s speed. For reference, 90 decibels is equivalent to the noise generated by a leaf blower, so don’t expect a serene experience in either car.

In normal driving scenarios, the MX-5 measured in the high 70s, while the S2000 measured in the low 80s. But at highway speeds, both of them measured around 90 decibels, even with the convertible tops down.

The S2000 has more power than the MX-5 Miata

Honda S2000 engine bay
Honda S2000 | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Unfortunately, I couldn’t drag race the cars since I can’t drive two cars at the same time (I’m working on it, though). If you drive the S2000 and the MX-5 back to back, you’ll feel the difference in power at the upper rpm range.

Once VTEC kicks in after 6,000 rpm in the S2000, the car comes alive, and its 237 hp can definitely be felt. The Miata feels powerful as well, but it makes its 181 hp at a lower rpm level, which means that it runs out of steam when the engine approaches redline. Both cars are still fun to drive, nonetheless.

However, don’t expect to win any drag races with either one; they’re both meant to be run on tracks with sweeping turns or canyons with tight corners. They both handle very similarly on normal roads, though. The MX-5 feels slightly more predictable, and its suspension is softer than the S2000’s.

Mazda MX-5 engine
Mazda MX-5 engine | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Convertible top battle

The Honda S2000’s convertible soft top is power-operated. It can be lifted and lowered with the flick of a button on the center console. The whole operation takes about six seconds to complete, which is perfect for when you want to put it up or down while waiting at a stoplight.

The Mazda MX-5’s soft top, on the other hand, is manually operated. You can put it up or down with one hand, which makes it quicker than the S2000s. But it’s a little unwieldy to handle if your shoulders aren’t flexible.

The Honda S2000’s shifter rules them all

If you have read the message forums for either of these cars, you have surely come across fans saying the Miata’s shifter “is the best ever.” You’ll find the same comments for the S2000. However, in my personal opinion, the Honda S2000’s shifter feels better. It’s smoother in its operation (except when the car is cold) and has a positive feel (which is fortified by the heavy aftermarket shift knob I put on it).

I may be biased, but the S2000’s shifter is the best I have felt in any car. Sorry, Miata fans.

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club vs. 2008 Honda S2000: Which one should you pick?

2023 Mazda MX-5 and Honda S2000
2023 Mazda MX-5 and Honda S2000 | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

You already know which car I would pick. I daily drove my Honda S2000 for a couple of years and didn’t have any major issues with it. It’s comfortable enough to commute to work and can fit groceries in the trunk. The Mazda MX-5 will do the same. But it is a little more comfortable and practical with its infotainment system and softer ride.

Anyone shopping between these two cars should ask themselves what they will use the car for. If it’s weekend fun, get the S2000. However, if you plan to drive the car daily, get the 2023 Mazda MX-5.