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Sports cars can be thrilling for enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike. Even people less familiar with this segment are often aware of popular vehicles, including the Mazda MX-5 Miata. However, though the Miata may be more widely recognized, one of its competitors — the Subaru WRX — has been outselling it for years, GoodCarBadCar reports. Here’s how the two vehicles compare.

How Subaru WRX and Mazda MX-5 Miata sales compare

Though the Mazda MX-5 Miata is popular, GoodCarBadCar shows the roadster’s sales numbers are notably lower than the Subaru WRX’s. So far this year, the Miata has sold 3,976 units. By comparison, the WRX has sold 8,749 units.

This discrepancy in sales stretches back years. Every year since 2016, the WRX has consistently sold over 20,000 units. In fact, in 2017, the WRX sold a whopping 31,358 units. The Miata sold only 11,294 units the same year. Excluding 2017, the Miata hasn’t hit even 10,000 sales at any point between 2016 and 2021.

Even in 2020, when many automakers took significant sales hits, the WRX excelled compared with the Miata. While the Miata sold just 8,807 units, the WRX sold 21,178 — a shockingly high figure considering the pandemic’s impact on the auto industry.

What makes these sports cars fantastic?

Despite the discrepancy in their sales numbers, the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Subaru WRX are excellent models worth considering if you’re looking for an affordable sports car. In fact, MotorTrend places both on its list “The Best Cheap Sports Cars Under $40,000.”

The 2021 Miata starts at just $27,825. According to MotorTrend, it’s such an excellent car that it’s hard to go wrong no matter which generation you choose — as long as you opt for one with a manual transmission. Reviewers praise the Miata’s small size and light weight, making for a speedy and fun driving experience.

Starting at $28,420, the 2021 WRX is slightly more expensive than the Miata. MotorTrend calls it “an incredibly fun car to drive,” noting it can reach 60 mph in 5.6 seconds.

Everything else you should know about these vehicles

The 2021 Subaru WRX packs a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine making 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. MT’s reviewers say the standard six-speed manual is excellent and advise against the optional continuously variable transmission. MotorTrend also notes that although Subaru sells a pricier trim — the WRX STI — you’ll actually get more speed from the standard model.

Although its current generation is reaching the end of its life, its affordability and high performance still make it worth a look. But reviewers note one downside: The WRX is available only as a sedan, with no hatchback or wagon options. 

With a 2.0-liter inline-four engine producing 181 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque, the 2021 MX-5 Miata is slightly less powerful than the WRX. However, this seeming lack of power doesn’t translate to a lack of speed, MotorTrend reports. The Miata essentially matches the WRX, reaching 60 mph in a speedy 5.7 seconds.

Although the Miata has a lower starting price than the WRX, MotorTrend recommends the higher-trim Miata Club with the optional Brembo/BBS Recaro package. That’ll bring plenty of additional features but at a higher price of $35,755.

All in all, it’s hard to go wrong with either of these excellent sports cars. Both the Subaru WRX and Mazda MX-5 Miata have their own strengths and weaknesses, but their performance and price tags are hard to beat.


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