Having a set of wheels for Valentine’s Day helps a lot.
Having a set of wheels that can quickly take you and your date from point A to point B helps even more.
Having a set of wheels that look good and can be a conversation piece helps even further. You and your co-confidant can be the talk of passers-by, possibly the envy of many, and even get an occasional glance or stare at your faithful steed for that fun day.
Having a set of wheels that have suitable seating for just two, narrow gaps between those two seats, ample infotainment, cold air conditioning, and unobtrusive items between front seats help a lot, too. There’s no need for a third or fourth party to join; you can set the tone for your romantic rendezvous with a head unit that can tap into multiple audio sources, reach out without much back and shoulder effort to put that jacket (or arm, if need be) on your companion, and start some hand-holding.
Having a set of wheels that can get planted during corner carving should also be of importance. You don’t want the fellow riding shotgun to get dizzy on the freeway and circular mall parking ramps.
Having a set of relatively inexpensive wheels helps in these economic times. A date car for less than ₱3,000,000 should give one peace of mind, instead of fretting about that extra monthly payment and/or interest payback on that car loan.
Given the above qualities, this poster opines that only two models tick all the needed boxes – the Mazda MX-5 roadster and the Toyota GR86 coupe (or the Subaru BR-Z, if you fancy the other brand).
But garages, street parking, and residence parking spaces mostly allow for just one vehicle. Hence, the two Japanese two-seaters must get compared (at least in terms of what both can offer vehicle owners and their respective occasional front passengers for Valentine’s Day 2023) so that only one gets taken home for future twosome pow-wows.
Based solely on the given specifications, dimensions, and previously written reviews of the two autos in question, this poster tries to discern which is more suitable for the Day of Hearts.
Best in coziness
We’ll start with the essential part of any date – the interior. This is where most of the magic of any affection appointment happens and where one can either confidently secure additional trips past first base or magnificently strike out.
Both Japanese competitors have sizeable touchscreen head units with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay/Bluetooth/USB capability, with the Toyota GR86 having the larger one at eight inches and the Mazda toting a seven-incher.
Both are essentially two-seaters, with the MX-5 being strictly a two-seater, and only kids and vertically challenged adults only fitting at the Toyota's rear bench.
Should you get the stick shift versions of both cars, occupants will find out that their respective wands (along with their respective parking brake rods) can be quite the obstacle for holding hands opportunities.
Both also have climate control systems, wherein the temperature for the shotgun seat resident can be toggled to be different from that of the one behind the wheel.
We’ll give this round to the MX-5 due to the dimensions. The representative from Mazda is smaller, with 3,915 mm length x 1,735 mm width x 1,235 mm height dimensions compared to the Toyobaru’s 4,265 mm length x 1,775 mm width x 1,310 height. The width is the standout dimension statistic here, as the Mazda MX-5 is narrower laterally than the Toyota GR86.
The implication is that the shorter width means a shorter distance between front seats, reducing the effort from either front occupant to reach out and touch the other party.
Driven to date
Determining which body shape between the two protagonists in this comparison is better is purely subjective, so we’ll leave that argument to the diehards of either model and those who wish to provide their feedback on this article via Autofun PH’s social media accounts.
But on the numerous exterior amenities, we’ll give this round again to the MX-5 because the Mazda has a furling/unfurling roof that can be a manual-folding soft top or a push-button retractable hard top.
Even if the thick cloth canopy might be a security liability, there’s something enjoyable about opening the roadster’s dome covering during Valentine’s Day in the Philippines. Typically, the day will likely feature a cloudless and starlit night, which means opportunities for stargazing and open-air fun.
Best in thrills
Examining the provided stats of both cars should give this round to the Toyota GR86.
Aside from having the bigger naturally aspirated displacement (2.4-liter, to the Mazda’s 2.0-liter), the higher output (the Toyota GR 86's 237 PS/250 NM versus the Mazda MX-5’s 186 hp/205 NM) and the aforementioned better numbers for width and wider tread (the Toyota's 1,520 mm front tread x 1,550 mm rear tread, to the Mazda’s 1,495 mm front tread x 1,505 mm rear tread), the GR86 has the advantage of having a flat-four engine.
The design of a horizontally opposed engine of the Toyota GR86– with the pistons lying down like boxers’ hands (hence the term “boxer engine” used as a common reference to this type of powerplant) – makes it suitable to be placed lower to the ground, and thus improving the center of gravity and handling.
Overall, the information mentioned earlier implies that the Toyota GR86 (or the Subaru BR-Z) is a better choice to get to your preferred date destinations quickly. The Toyota GR86 is also the better choice for needing your steed to be planted at speed on rotunda roads, the circular paths common to most mall parking venues, and expressway on-ramps and off-ramps, in case you need to use freeways for getting to places required for intimacy.
It's the thought that counts
The MX-5 is the winner here, based on the price ranges of both models.
The roadster has an admission price ranging from ₱2,020,000 for the manual transmission soft-top to ₱2,790,000 for the Retractable Fastback 2.0 Club Edition with an automatic transmission.
On the other hand, the Toyota GR86's admission price scope depends on your closest dealer. If you go to a Subaru store, the BRZ can go from ₱2,158,000 (2.0 AT) to ₱2,499,000 (2.4 6AT EyeSight). If you go to a Toyota outlet, the GR86 starts at ₱ 2,328,000 (2.4 MT, in Sapphire Blue Pearl) up to ₱ 2,519,000 (2.4 AT in Ignition Red).
So which is the better couple car?
Even with a distinct performance advantage, the Toyota GR86 loses to the Mazda MX-5 in this sort of comparo which is based on how it feels to be in the car. The MX-5 plays on your emotions as it connects the driver and the passenger to the road. The GR86 infuses performance into an otherwise practical everyday platform. Both are excellent on spirited runs, but only one gives you the rush of air in your face and your hair and lets you feel the buzz of life.
In any other comparo that purely concerns forward and lateral enjoyment, the Toyota-Subaru twins might go neck-and-neck with the Mazda. But this two-car contrast involves Valentine’s Day, and thus emphasis was put on how both comparo participants present themselves as potential date cars.
Whether or not you’ll follow our notes regarding this comparo will ultimately depend on you, your date, and your wallet. The order of importance is up to you.
A veteran of the Philippine motoring media since 2002, Jude has worked for two business broadsheets, three automotive websites, a car and lifestyle magazine, and a small national daily. He is also a fan of women's volleyball, 1980s toys, sneakers, and national defense.