Friday Fun – Choices: Miata Alternatives

It has been a while, but welcome back to Choices. During this segment’s hiatus, we have evolved and simplified the series. We now pit three or four seemingly similar cars against one another and ask you a simple question. Which one would you theoretically keep as your favourite, and which one do you despise enough that it deserves nothing less than a fiery grave? It’s as simple as that; pick your favourite and pick your least favourite. Have fun with the choices below.

The Contestants

  • 1999 Toyota MR-S
  • 1998 BMW Z3 1.9i
  • 1999 Chevrolet Camaro

It is the turn of the millennium and you are looking for a fun, rear-wheel drive convertible. The obvious answer is to buy a Miata, but you are not an obvious person. No, you want to defy convention and try something a little less ordinary. The choices out there are slim, but after some research, a short list of three contestants has emerged.

First there is the 1999 Toyota MR-S (or MR2 Spider depending on where you live). It is the closest to the Miata in the sense that is a lightweight two seat convertible powered by a small four-cylinder engine. The main difference is that the engine is located behind the driver.

Next up is the 1998 BMW Z3 1.9i. This is the last year of the four-cylinder Z3 before six-cylinders fully took over. With a 138 hp engine and higher curb weight, it is like a one-size larger, swankier Miata.

The final choice is a bit more out of left field. It is a 1999 Chevrolet Camaro. It is a much larger car than the other two and features far more power – 200 hp from a big 3.8-liter V6. It also includes a backseat and far more usable trunk. What it lacks in handling it makes up for in comfort and straight-line performance.

My Choices

Since I’d be looking for a weekend summer toy, I’d keep the Toyota MR-S. It would be a blast to thrash around and is a throwback to the affordable mid-engine compact. Plus, the engine is quite reliable and should require minimal maintenance.

Of the list above, I would get rid of the BMW Z3 1.9i. I do quite like the Z3, but not with the 1.9-liter engine. There were plenty of six-cylinder choices that are not only more powerful, but smoother and offering a far better exhaust note. With the 1.9i I would always feel like I made the wrong Z3 choice.

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