Mazda MX-5 RF vs Toyota 86: Which One Is The New Answer To Everything?

It’s a question that’s been asked repeatedly in the past, but with the two models now gaining a few updates (and a folding targa top in the case of the MX-5 RF), we need to see if anything has changed since the last time those two got together.

Both the Toyota 86 and the Mazda MX-5 RF have been highly praised for their handling and fun-to-drive characters, deeming them one of the purest expressions of a sports car, especially when you consider their price tags.

The latest addition in the Mazda MX-5’s range is of course the RF, a folding targa-top version of the popular roadster. Adding a complicated automated mechanism on a Miata sounds counter-intuitive but Mazda has also fiddled with the suspension as well, so this might be the most rewarding model to drive yet.

As for Toyota, the latest version of the 86 comes with subtle visual tweaks and 5 extra hp from its 2.0-litre flat-four engine. Most importantly though, they shortened the gear ratios in order to liven things up a bit once you’re on the move, trying to respond to criticisms claiming that the modern incarnation of the AE86 needs more power.

Motor Trend pits the two together in their latest episode of Ignition and the winner is probably the closest call we’ve ever seen.

VIDEO

  • Kyle Newberry

    I personally love the looks of the BRZ over the 86. But it would be a hard call. Especially if you get the BBS 200 kit for the RF.

    • Mill0048

      I’m definitely in the minority who likes the 86 more; I prefer the 86 front end and no spoiler. However, I voted BRZ with my own wallet because of the Performance Package and other amenities the 86 doesn’t offer.

  • The Watcher

    Miata Is Always The Answer. Always.

  • Six_Tymes

    They are spot on with both designs. I wish the miata was better looking. I am very curious to see what Subaru puts out very soon with their STI version’d BRZ.

  • fabri99

    EVO Magazine (which I deeply love and trust) did a great comparison among these two as well. Personally, I would have no idea what to choose. The RF has a punchier engine, is better looking and faster as well. It definitely feels more special, flamboyant even. The GT86 is more composed and more precise, a better sports car than the Mazda though not as handsome or desireable. According to the brits, the RF lacks a little stiffness in the structure and a firmer chassis, an actual coupè body would definitely help it in composure and finesse.

  • foqus

    For me: 86. For my little sister: Miata.

  • getoffme

    So they chose the Miata because it was softer? LMAO

    Randy picked the 86 though.