New Car/Used Car Face Off: Mazda MX-5 Miata vs. Acura NSX

2013 Mazda Mx-5


1995 Acura NSX Autotrader Ext

When buying a new car, a multitude of factors and features are weighed to find the perfect car for you, the automotive connoisseur. MPG or 0-60? 2 or 5 seats? How many doors? Sporty or comfortable ride? The Mazda MX-5 Miata is made for the sports car purist. It is low on creature comforts, which just so happens to contribute to a low 3,000lbs curb weight. A radio is pretty much the only accessory in the extremely basic Miata, so the MSRP suggests that your money is spent elsewhere. Here, it’s driving dynamics that prove to be the roadster’s selling point. The 2013 Miata stays true to its roots, as it was originally conceived as a modern take on classic British roadsters, which had disappeared from the market all together by the late 1980s.  It was a modest success when it was first introduced, and continues to sell solid numbers despite its very limited market. But what if you could own a proper supercar for the same amount of money, one with a thundering V6 that properly wiped the floor with Ferraris? You’d have to go back to the time of the first Miata to do it, but for the same amount as a new Mazda, you could have the best car that Honda ever made: the Acura NSX.

My appreciation for the NSX is well documented: it was the first-ever addition to the Dream Garage and it earns the placement due to its stunning extreme wedge shape, everyday livability, and titan-killing performance. During its production it was always benchmarked against Ferrari’s V8 supercars, and by the time the NSX made it to the dealership, the two cars were pretty evenly matched both at the track and at stoplight drag races. NSX owners had plenty of reason to regard their Ferrari-owning friends with pity, for their pals had overpaid for the honor of owning a car with a horsey on the badge.

As with everything coming out of Japan at the time, value took a priority over all else. For $60,000, the NSX was able to hang with the $100,000 Ferrari 348 and other sports cars, while undercutting them all on cost. The value didn’t just stop at the sale price, however, as the cost of ownership (read: maintenance) was relatively budget-friendly compared to the more exotic cars, and the components were more reliable to boot.

The only downside to the NSX is that resale values remain stubbornly high, considering that a brand new Miata costs as much as an 18 year-old Acura. The $27,500 NSX I found is a 1995 model with a targa roof that replaced the solid hardtop that year, and while the odometer reveals that the six digit mile marker has been reached, you couldn’t tell by looking at the quality of the interior. The leather seating looks pristine and the engine bay appears to be well kept. Like the Mazda, the Acura is light on extra features, but no cars in the early ’90s had much computer tech in the cockpit anyway. Most Acuras have been modified to hell and back, but this one seems to be stock save for an HKS exhaust, stereo head unit, and wheels.

The brand new Miata will emerge right out of the box without any miles on the body and engine, comes with a factory warranty, and reeks of the all-important new car smell. But it won’t turn heads like the NSX will, and the MX-5 won’t be as adept for touring duty as the NSX. Both cars have their advantages and disadvantages, but the Miata doesn’t even have flip up headlights and was never driven by Harvey Keitel. Be like The Wolf and make a 30 minute trip in 10.


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About Cameron Rogers

Cameron Rogers is the founder and lead writer at Downshift Autos, the only automotive blog on the Internet*. Born in the back of an AMC Gremlin, Cameron vowed to never let this extraordinarily embarrassing detail define him, so help him God. He drives a GTI but absolutely will not shut up about it if somebody asks. He will not hesitate to let people know that no, they shouldn't get a Porsche 911 when a Morgan 3 Wheeler is so obviously the superior choice. He is obsessed with the seats of a Carrera GT and the steering wheel of a Fisker Karma. He once sat in the driver's seat of a Tesla Model S, his greatest accomplishment to date. He is just now realizing that writing an autobiography, however miniscule, in the third person is odd and unnerving. *As of this writing, Cameron has been informed that there are, in fact, many websites and blogs centered around cars and car culture. He regrets his grievous error.

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