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Pre-owned Porsche Boxster vs. 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Which mid-engine drop-top would make a better second car: a used Porsche Boxster or the Mazda MX-5 Miata?


About nine years ago I began to look for a roadster. Based on my budget and my interest in a car with a warranty, I narrowed the field very quickly down to just two candidates. The new 2007 Miata, then only in the market for less than a year, or a certified pre-owned (CPO) base Porsche Boxster. For a variety of reasons, I chose the 2007 Mazda Miata Grand Touring with every option. With the new ND Miata now appearing in dealerships we thought it would be fun to take a look at that comparison again.

The all-new fourth-generation 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata has been driven by the media and the initial reports are all unanimous in their praise for the car. Mazda has moved the 2016 Miata into the modern era with much better performance, improved driving characteristics, better comfort, and modern infotainment. Even better, the prices haven’t changed. With the new Miata now being tested by Car and Driver and hitting sixty mph from zero in just 5.9 seconds, the Miata has suddenly gotten a lot closer to the quickness of a base Boxster. The current generation Boxster can run to sixty in about 5.5 seconds, but back in 2005, the Boxster ran to 60 in exactly the same 5.9 seconds the new Miata does. Unlike past matchups, the new Miata also offers creature comforts that match or surpass the base Boxster. Mazda’s new Miata has its engine between the axles, just like the Boxster, and both have perfect balance. These two are a natural matchup.

A quick scan of the local prices for CPO Boxsters reveals two choices. 2005 models priced in the mid-$20Ks, or newer Boxster S models priced at about $50K. Neither is a bad deal, but for many the Boxster S is out of the ball-park price-wise. A base CPO Boxster would never cost you anything for repairs during its two-year warranty, but sadly, even well-loved ten-year-old Boxsters come with a scary cost of maintenance. And they look, well, used... On the up-side, we are talking about a Porsche. A mid-engine, boxer-6-cylinder-powered sports car that many say is the best grand-touring roadster ever made for Sunday drives and fall road-trips.

A brand-new 2016 Miata with performance matching that of a 2005 Boxster costs about the same as a high-mileage CPO Porsche. The Miata's 30K mile major maintenance is years away, and the Mazda drivetrain warranty won’t expire for six years. Pay for your Miata and you basically have a fixed cost of ownership. A fully-loaded Miata with either all the go-fast bits (Club) or the comfort package (Grand Touring) only costs about $5k more and would be a lot more compatible with Pandora, Aha, and your iTunes than an older base Porsche.

Is there a right and wrong answer here? We don’t think so. The only wrong choice would be to let another year go by without a mid-engine roadster.

Main story image courtesy of (slightly modified.)

John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career and dedicated himself to chasing his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and connect with him at Linkedin. You can find most of John's stories at Torque News Toyota, Lexus and GM News coverage. Search Torque News in Google for daily automotive news analysis from experienced and expert automotive reporters.


Douglas Chew (not verified)    August 14, 2015 - 2:42PM

It's not JUST the immediate price of the car. I consider the long term cost of continued maintenance. Comparing those expenses between these two cars is night and day.

BH (not verified)    December 16, 2015 - 10:13AM

In reply to by Douglas Chew (not verified)

Exactly. I do my own tuneups, but my '93 Miata has been to the mechanic 3 times in 22 years 86k miles, for minor problems. I'd like to see ANY German car top that. And I drive my ride pretty hard -- I'm on my 5th set of summer tires. Too much FUN!!

BH (not verified)    December 16, 2015 - 10:09AM

I've never driven a Boxster, but have been driving a '93 Miata Limited Edition (orig version w/ every option) for the past 18 years. Aside from my own work, changed plugs/wires/fuel filter/brake pads/soft top/stereo, my Miata w/ 88k miles has been to the mechanic exactly 3 times since I bought it with 19k miles. Once for a minor oil pump o-ring leak, once for the timing belt, and just last month for a leaking Master Brake cylinder. And I drive this thing hard (on my 5th set of tires...). It is the most fun I've ever had behind the wheel, and my other car is a '13 Ford Focus ST. Is the Porsche the 'better' car? I'm sure it's faster, and might handle a little tighter, but I don't know about 'better.' I wouldn't want the maintenance bills at least!

Ed (not verified)    October 3, 2016 - 11:42AM

I've owned a 2001 mid-range Boxster and a 2016 MX-5 Miata. Both have their advantages, but I did like the feel of my old Boxster (even at 15 years old!) more than my Miata. I like the size, lightness & maintainability of the Miata, but I like the smoothness, power and handling of the Boxster much better. I would have kept it except for the IMS bearing scare. I've owned my MX-5 for over a year now, but I'm toying with trading it for a 2012 Boxster in the next few months.

Ed (not verified)    June 10, 2017 - 4:58AM

In reply to by Maveed (not verified)

The Miata is much less refined. However, it is NEW with a warranty and laughably easier to maintain. BTW...make sure your new Boxster (if you buy one) is newer than 2008 or you'll be sorry (IMS issues)!