Few sports cars are rear-wheel and lightweight. The Mazda Miata is one of the few affordable roadsters with adept handling. But what if you do not want to get lost in the Miata crowd? Here we review 18 rides worth checking out that offer the same benefits as the Mazda Miata.
18. The Morgan Plus Four
Morgan revamped the plus 4 to a new Plus Four that looks much like its predecessor but with all new powertrain options. The two-seater has a base BMW 2.0-liter turbocharged unit making 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque via an eight-speed automatic transmission. A manual gearbox is available. The base price is north of $80,000. The Morgan Plus Four is a lighter car with superb handling and hits 0-60 in about 4.8 seconds. The interior has ambient lighting, with concierge headlights a standard. There is no digital panel in the driver-focused cabin. The seats are comfortable and accommodate two large humans, which is desirable for such a small car.
17. Honda S660
The mid-engine roadster is available in two trims. You can get the base trim for around $18,500. However, it has an underwhelming engine delivering 64 hp through a six-speed manual transmission. The CVT variant remains optional. Heated seats and a free-standing digital panel are optional. You will have to get the higher trim, which will cost you more than $2,000 for the base price.
16. VW T Roc Cabriolet
Volkswagen's iconic Cabriolet is a direct replacement for the Beetle. You can choose between the six-speed manual, or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission mated to either a 1.0-liter turbo 3-cylinder engine or a 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder engine. The MSRP is $35,000, and its top deploys in 9 seconds, which is quicker than most convertibles, which deploy in an average of 12 seconds. An 11.7-inch digital panel is optional, but the base trim sits on 17-inch wheels with a spacious cabin for the two-door car.
15. Lexus LC 500
The rigid chassis and easy-to-retract top with automatic climate control are the hallmarks of the Lexus LC 500. It is a luxury car powered by a V-8 engine delivering 398-pound feet of torque and 471 horsepower. It is a two-seater that can become four, but there isn't much rear legroom to wiggle your toes. Its stylish grille is sometimes not easy on the eye for a sportscar, especially a convertible. Surprisingly, the LC 500 is easy to handle, which is not common for a car of its large size. The direct steering and adept handling enable it to navigate sharp corners at higher RPMs. However, you must be careful when attempting a turn at 140 mph.
14. Chrysler 200
The convertible Chrysler has outdone itself for sports car standards. The base engine is a V-6 providing more than enough power mated to a six-speed automatic with shift selectors. The front-wheel-drive car has a manual seat adjustment and a 6-way power driver seat covered in premium leather. Safety features are standard with abs and auto headlights. Power windows and heated mirrors are standard too. You can get the Chrysler 200 for an estimated cost of $32,520.
13. Jaguar F-Type
There are three different trims for the F-Type, with two offering 444 hp and another 575 hp, which is the V-8 option. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with the option of all-wheel drive. The base price is $71,300, meaning it's a complete luxury car. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard that delivers power to the rear wheel, while the option is the rear wheel drive. The higher trim is north of $100,000, which may be too much considering you have affordable alternatives like the Supra.
12. Mercedes Benz C300 Cabriolet
The starting price for the Cabriolet is a whopping $56,500. But for that price, you get a lot of car with 30 MPG on the highway and a selection of superb engines. The engine options are all four cylinders, with the base model making 255 horsepower. You can upgrade the engines to a 3.0-liter V-6 or 4.0-liter V-8. The transmission is only a nine-speed automatic transmission, which is fun to drive. You can choose between the all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive powertrains.
11. Porsche Boxster
In a connotative sense, the Porsche Boxster is the "poor man's Porsche." But the coined phrase should not trick you, the MSRP is around $62,000, and the car is number 3 in the luxury sports cars segment in the Car News U.S. The engine options are a 2.0 and 2.5 liter flat-four turbocharged or a flat-six engine delivering about 415 hp. The fuel economy is decent for its price and engines at 21 MPG. The Boxster has an easy-to-remove top, especially the Roadster option, and does 0-60 in 3.7 seconds.
10. Toyota Supra
The Toyota Supra is not a purebred Toyota, but it ranks well in the sportscars coupe segment. Powered by BMW Z4's engine but returned by Toyota, it delivers 355bhp through an eight-speed automatic transmission, but Toyota announced a manual transmission is coming for the mid-2022 range. The entry-level engine is a 225-horsepower four-cylinder engine. The Supra is available in four trims, with the base trim costing around $44,345. The rear-wheel drive car does 0-60 in an impressive 3.7 seconds, out-competing the BMW M2. Much of the interior borrows from BMW Z4. Still, the Supra is Toyota's halo sports car, just a remake of the BMW Z4.
9. Chevrolet Corvette C5
Because the C9 is way off the Miata’s radar, we'll have to settle for the nearly perfect C5. The Chevrolet Corvette C5 does 0-60 mph in 4 seconds, which doesn't surprise owing to its V-8 engine. The base price for the Corvette is still a deal breaker for most car enthusiasts who cannot part with $60,000, which is almost double the cost of a high-end Mazda Miata. But for that price tag, you get buzzer-beating acceleration and a sonorous engine in a well-trimmed vehicle with a carefully crafted interior. The C5 is the ultimate speed demon on this list. But if the money was ours, we'd recommend the C9. It's sure to make you infamous for speed traps.
8. Chevrolet Camaro 1LE
Racing fun begins with the 1LE of all the Camaros. The 1LE is available in two V-8 options. One is a 6.2-liter V-8 delivering 455 hp, and the other is a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 producing 650 hp. For transmission, you can choose the six-speed manual, eight-speed, or ten-speed automatic with standard rear-wheel drive. Being a Chevy, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, auto headlights, and a WiFi hotspot are standard. The base price is $26,195 but can jump to $33,000 depending on the powertrain option. The Chevrolet Camaros are loved for their torque and speed. The 1LE is the pick of the bunch.
7. The Abarth 124 Spider
This car is one of the four options for the Fiat 124 Spider. The Abarth has the same chassis as the Miata but with a dash of Italian flair. The base model costs $27,576, while the premium model maxes out at $31,874. The engine is slightly underwhelming, issuing 164 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The trunk, too, takes a hit and offers 4.9 cubic feet of space. The Abarth 124 Spider is an affordable car only if you consider the other four options. With that out of the way, the Abarth has a comfortable ride and decluttered interior, unlike most sports cars that feel too overwhelming for the average joe.
6. Porsche 911 GT3
If you are not a Porsche connoisseur, then Porsche 911s will confuse you. The lineup involves a series of cameras and cabriolets. The two most famous Porsches in the 911 series are the Turbo S and the 911 GT3. Porsche 911 GT3 hides a 502 horsepower 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six engine mated to a nine-speed dual-clutch or manual transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard. The GT3 has excellent curb appeal and lively handling. The interior is much like the Turbo S, with heated and power-adjustable seats and a host of driver assistance features, including blind spot monitoring. A standard GT3 jumps at the corners and is more forgiving when approaching the 9,000 rpm redline. You can get the Porsche GT3 for $162,450.The GT3 is a fascinating piece of holistic engineering, as Motor trend notes.
5. Mercedes Benz SLC
Formerly the SLK, the Mercedes Benz SLC has an updated look that gives it a low stance and refined body kit. The base price is $49,950, making it one of the most expensive cars on this list. You can expect a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 221 hp in the base model, with the other option being the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine producing 385 horsepower. Mercedes Benz SLC retains the automatic nine-speed transmission for the most recent iteration. There is no thermotropic AC unit, and the radio is optional, which is too much of an ask for a $50,000 car. However, the AMG line takes up the upholstery and furnishes the interior with finer materials and accents.
4. Porsche 718 Spyder
If you desire a smaller 911, then the 718 is for you. The 718 Spyder hides a 414-horsepower 4.0-liter naturally aspirated engine like the 911 base trim, costing $98,300. You can choose between manual and automatic transmission. The manual transmission hits 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds. The Porsche 718 Spyder sits on 20-inch alloy wheels and is lighter than the BMW Z4. The light curbside weight translates to better handling, ideal for maneuvering around corners.
You can channel your inner Lewis Hamilton with the Spyder if you buy the car with the PDK transmission. Do not worry about fuel efficiency, as the 16.9-gallon tank can give you up to 338 miles, which is decent for such a thirsty car. A 4.6-inch color display lets you control standard features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, the roof's electric locking function, and Sirius XM Satellite radio. Sadly, Apple CarPlay is an option and attracts a price tag of $360.
3. Aston Martin Vantage
Aston Martin's uniquely pressed metal sheets cover the two-seater vintage. The sensual shape, retractable soft top, and lively handling make it one of the best roadsters above the $100,000 mark. Power comes from a 528-horsepower twin-turbo V-8 engine, with a V-12 engine returning for the 2023 model. The power enables the Vantage to clock 0-60 in 3.4 seconds. The interior, however, suffers from finishing issues, and we have seen better. The cockpit can get noisy at high speeds as the electronic dampers cannot hide the high-strung shriek of the V-8 engine. Like other sports cars, you can expect features like Apple CarPlay, built-in navigation, heated and ventilated seats, and blind spot monitoring. The asking price of the Aston Martin Vantage is $145,172.
2. Audi TT Roadster
The Audi TT Roadster and the BMW Z4 were introduced in 1998 and continue their long-standing rivalry well into 2022 with iterations. The standard Audi TT Roadster costs an estimated $49,800. The standard TT has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that provides 228 horsepower, with the alternative being a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder with 394 horsepower. Its premium interior and standard features justify its high price tag. A racer-style steering wheel, a 12.3-inch virtual instrument panel, an adaptive rear spoiler, and heated front seats are some of the convenient features of the Audi TT Roadster. The TT does 0-60 in 5.6 seconds. It is more frugal on fuel compared to the Miata. EPA estimates 31 MPG on the highway.
1. BMW Z4
The price gap between the Mazda Miata and the BMW Z4 is significant. Considering the price metric, you are getting a more luxurious ride. The BMW Z4 comes with a standard 255-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. For the base Z4, you will have to pay $49,900 and $63,700 for the fully kitted-out trim, producing 328 horsepower from a 3.0-liter inline-six engine. You can expect a luxurious cabin with standard features such as rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, auto headlights, and an internal hard drive for such a high price tag. The BMW Z4 remains the only apples-to-apples comparison to the Mazda Miata. However, it falls short in the acceleration section for a sports car standard. The Z4 does 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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