Which car should I buy? Mazda MX-5, Toyota 86, Nissan 370Z or Ford Mustang

Danielle wants to swap her BMW Z4 for a more affordable sports car

Mazda Mx 5 T Jpg

Hi WhichCar team,

I’ve been made redundant and the job hunting isn’t going so good. I need to sell my pride and joy (BMW Z4 35is coupe) in favour of something a little more affordable and fuel-efficient. Can you recommend something that’s still fun but will help keep my head above water? The cheaper the better – the more change I get out of selling the Z4, the less chance there is that I’ll need to sell more of my possessions.

Danielle, Semaphore, South Australia


We’re sorry to hear about that Danielle, but hopefully the following advice may help make your situation a temporary one.

Mazda Mx 5 Sun Jpg

If you’re after a car that can replicate the Z4’s top-down driving experience, then there’s really no alternative to the Mazda MX-5. The MX-5 RF even has a folding metal hard top like your Z4 (along with plenty of gear), but is also the most expensive option at $45,960. Want to trim some dollars off? The fabric-roofed base model MX-5 Roadster is great value at $34,190, and an even better drive than the slightly heavier RF.

Mazda Mx 5 86 Jpg

Another option for you is the Toyota 86 or almost identical Subaru BRZ. At $31,440 for the base model 86 GT, you get a car that’s a true joy to drive in a compact and practical 2+2 coupe body style. No, the roof doesn’t go down, but this is the most affordable ‘true sportscar’ on the market by a long shot!

With just a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four cylinder under their bonnets, however, the MX-5 and 86/BRZ aren’t going to deliver quite the same kind of straight-line performance as your Z4 34is. If that’s what you seek, then the most affordable options there are the Nissan 370Z coupe (which has now dipped below $50K) or, the 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged Ford Mustang Ecoboost at $49,990. Both the 370Z and the Mustang are available in convertible form too, should you want to hang onto that combo of top-down fun.

Mazda Mx 5 Mustang Jpg

Of all the choices we reckon the Mazda MX-5 Roadster will put as big a smile on your face as the Z4 while being kind to your bank account in terms of price and running costs.

Our Recommendation: Mazda MX-5 Roadster

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