Mazda MX-5 vs Toyota 86 vs Ford Mustang
The MX-5, Toyota 86 and Ford Mustang are all rear-drive sportscars you don’t need, but want. So, Which one should you choose?
Your rear-drive options
Cruising and touring
quality and premium-ness
Dead last here is the 86 which is strongly built, but poorly finished and even by Toyota’s standards you’d call it basic. The MX-5 and Mustang do much better, both of which show attention to detail and generally give the owner a sense of quality if not luxurious style.
Bottom line: if you want a car where you can enjoy the ambience and interior forget the 86, choose between Mustang and MX-5.
The style factor
What impression do you give off in each of these cars? It kind of depends on what you do with the car and who you are – take an MX-5 driven by a middle-aged bloke wearing sunnies and Harry Hairchest shirt in drop-top – different impression from the same car driven by a young lady.
Right now, if you drive a Mustang you will get attention, in a good sort of way. Mustangs are bought by people that love cars, as distinct from Lamborghinis which are mostly bought by people that love themselves. The same is true of the MX-5 but to a lesser degree, MX-5s have been around for ages and this new one is not getting anywhere near the love reserved for the Mustang. The 86 was super cool three years ago but is now so commonplace it is entirely unremarkable.
As all of these are unnecessary, impractical sportscars you can expect the tediously beige naysayers to tut and tisk at the sight of someone enjoying themselves, but that’s just a general hazard with anything nice these days.
MX-5 is only convertible (except for future aftermarket hardtop options), Mustang has a convertible option in EcoBoost or V8 but only automatic, and 86 is tin-top only. All three have six-speed manuals or six-speed autos with paddle shifts.
All three vehicles have a huge choice of aftermarket accessories and modifications ranging from bodykits to wheels to trim pieces to performance upgrades such as forced-induction (super or turbocharger) kits, brakes and suspension. You can truly make each of these your own, and they all have large and enthusiastic owner club communities. In the case of the Mustang much of that is in the USA, but it is sure to build up in Australia too.
Bottom line: if you had to pick one, the Mustang would be the coolest but it’s more about what you do with the car and how you do it.
The hot hatch. Doesn’t look as good, but goes as fast, handles as well and is even more practical with much better seats (sometimes five), sometimes more doors, more cargo room and a higher driving position. Examples include Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 GTi, Golf GTi, Ford’s new Focus RS, Mercedes AMG A45. None are rear-drive, but do you need it?
- Ford Mustang review
- Mazda MX-5 ND 1.5L review
- Mazda MX-5 ND 2.0L review
- Toyota 86 long term test
- Automatic or manual – the enthusiasts choice
- Should I buy a convertible?
- Front, rear or all wheel drive – which to choose?
- Buying a car with head or heart