For all the similarities shared by the Toyota 86 and Mazda MX-5 Miata, they aren’t exactly direct rivals.
Sure, they have a lot in common — both are fun-to-drive two-doors featuring rear-wheel drive layouts and naturally aspirated engines — but their bodystyles have been enough to put the pair at opposite ends of the sports car spectrum. That all changes with the introduction of the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
, a car that, while fundamentally the same as the soft top before it, now benefits from a targa-like configuration that for the first time puts it in the same conversation as the Toyota
86. But is that enough to make the Miata a sure bet for sports car supremacy? To find out, we brought them to the track for an old-fashioned head-to-head comparison.
Our venue was Toronto Motorsports Park, a roughly 1.9-mile (three-kilometer) track about an hour west of Toronto. With plenty of late apex turns and a long straightaway to play with, the track would provide an opportunity to test both cars’ well-rounded abilities, with plenty of space to run off if need be. (That need, for the record, only arose once.)