Pricing Comparison Test – 2023 Mazda MX-5 Club vs 2023 Toyota GR86 Which Is The Best Purchase?

The 2023 Mazda MX-5 is an icon in the affordable sports car ranks. The tiny two-door is the classic example of what happens when you combine a solid platform with simple ergonomics and the fun that comes with a droptop. But what happens when the MX-5 is forced to go head to head with the 2023 Toyota GR86 when it comes time to decide between the two for a potential purchase?


MX-5 and GR86 Are Both Finely Honed Instruments Of Fun


Look past the Mazda’s ability to flip its lid up and down (the GR86 has no convertible model available), and the similarities between the two are readily apparent. Both of their platforms were designed from the ground up to deliver driving fun, with the Toyota’s platform being the fruit of a partnership between the company and Subaru. As for the MX-5, its platform is an in-house creation, with Mazda resisting the urge for a collaboration of its own in regards to the MX-5 (minus a brief partnership with Stellantis) that saw the axed Fiat 124 built on the MX-5’s platform.

Both also boast four-cylinder power, but while the MX-5’s 181-horsepower, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder boasts an inline layout, the GR86’s Subaru DNA appears with its slightly bigger 228-hp, 2.4-liter, flat-four-cylinder. A six-speed manual is standard on both, but the duo can also be equipped with matching six-speed automatics for those who prefer to let the car do the shifting for them. The lone catch with the MX-5 however, is that only the range-topping Grand Touring can be equipped with the optional automatic (every other trim is manual only.) Handling is also similar, but the MX5’s droptop does hobble handling slightly due to its unique needs (even with the pricey BBS package equipped.)


Making The Final Turn Into The Showroom Floor

The real battle lines though are drawn in the sand when you’re crunching the numbers at your local Mazda/Toyota dealership. A base GR86 starts at $29,495, while the base MX-5 softop has a starting sticker of $29,515 (all pricing includes the respective destination fees.) The GR86 Premium starts at just over $32,000, while the 1oth Anniversary Edition starts at over $34,000. As for the MX-5 RF, it has the highest pricing here, with the Grand Touring starting at $37,810 and the Club variant boasting a base price of $40,115.

In addition to the outright pricing of things, we also took a dive into the lease payment situation for a base version of both models, with both lease plans being configured for a 36-month period with a cap of 10,000 miles, an excellent credit rating, and zero cash down. While the buying situation may vary from one buyer to the other, in this scenario, the Mazda’s $481 a month payment was less expensive than the $505 wielded by the Toyota, with the matching $481 due at signing also being less expensive than the $1,155 the customer would need to bring when signing for a GR86 lease. However, the Toyota makes up for it by having more lease terms available, with the GR86 allowing customers to go all the way up to 60 months on a lease plan if needed versus the MX-5, which has a firm 48-month ceiling in that particular department.

If we had to choose for ourselves, we would give a nod to the Toyota. While the price of entry is higher especially when you look at the lease side of things. The GR86 offers more usability and benefits from some of the things that Toyota and Subaru engineers came up with when they first began work on the GR86/BRZ several years ago. It will be interesting to see if the next-generation MX-5 can help shift Mazda’s fortunes while also addressing some of its existing flaws as well.