A couple of months ago I confessed that my ideal garage would have 3 cars in it: a Jaguar, an SUV, and a 2 seat roadster such as Mazda’s excellent MX5.
The most recent addition to the MX5 family is well engineered and fun to drive. It also addresses my most significant critique of its predecessor; I didn’t quite fit.
However, what it is not is beautiful. I keep hoping that the looks will grow on me. They haven’t yet.
If like me the MX5’s looks are a problem for you, there is another contender for our affection in the 2 seater roadster segment, BMW’s Z4. First off, let’s be clear that these two aren’t quite competitors. The Z4 is aimed at the upper echelons of the roadster market occupied by the Porsche Boxster but fails to hit its mark.
BMW can at least take heart in the fact that everything else aimed at unseating the Porsche has similarly failed….
BMW has to satisfy itself with the second tier of the market also occupied by the Mercedes SLK, now rechristened SLC, and to a lesser extent the Audi TT. However, the TT is not rear wheel drive which raises questions for me how authentic a roadster it is…. And in the third tier also occupying a niche by itself is the MX5.
The BMW occupies a higher price point than the MX5 and it shows in the quality of materials used in the interior, the range of options available, and the breadth of the engine range on offer in the BMW as well.
I’m not con inched that the depth of engineering in the BMW is any greater than that of the MX5. However it is a darn sight better looking. And it is a hard top to boot, though Mazda has just moved to counter that particular point.
In many ways the BMW is outshone by the newer MX5, as it should be. The MX5 is a brand new design whilst the Beemer was launched in 2009 and is ripe for replacement. The Mazda is lighter and thus more nimble, cheaper to run, insure and repair. However the BMW is not only far better looking, it feels like a better quality proposition to sit in and to drive over long distances. It’s more of a GT than a sportscar so if you were going to drive for a couple of hundred miles you’d prefer to be in the BMW than the Mazda.
Some of that is to do with the natural benefits of the hard top. Some of that is that BMW put more sound deadening into their car than did Mazda who were obsessed with weight. You can have either the lightest car in the class or the quietest, but not both….
However, there is an upside to the BMW’s age: there are plenty on the used market.
A quick search on Auto-trader reveals that as little as 8.5K is enough to get you into a Z4 and I don’t mean a Mk1 either; I mean the current shape E89 Mk2. I’ve gotta say that I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit recently. Plus those prices are only going to continue to fall as the Mk3 Z4 is introduced in the next year or two. Or three….So if, like me, you fancy a bit of Roadster in your life, a used BMW Z4 might just be the ticket.
Unless of course you can afford a Porsche Boxter. In which case you should ignore this post and go visit your Porsche dealer at once…..