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Edmunds: Face-Off – BMW 135i vs Mazda MX-5

1-series | August 31st, 2010 by 44
FaceOff_135_MX5

BMW 135i vs Mazda MX-5…not the type of comparison one gets to see every day. Edmunds takes the two vehicles to a track day. Let’s …

BMW 135i vs Mazda MX-5…not the type of comparison one gets to see every day. Edmunds takes the two vehicles to a track day.

Let’s hear what they had to say.

“So with a top-end budget of $40,000, Associate Editor Mark Takahashi and Photo Editor Kurt Niebuhr face-off to see which track day weapon reigns supreme. The pre-grid lineup consists of Takahashi in a BMW 135i, while Niebuhr hops in his Mazda MX-5.

Niebuhr: What can I say about the 135i? Well, for starters it’s really expensive. That bottom of the barrel Bimmer will be tough to get out the door for less than 40 thousand dollars. That’s 40 large for a car that could very well wind up in the wall the first time you hit the track. Maybe this is just me and my emaciated wallet talking but I just wouldn’t want to take that risk.

FaceOff_135_MX5

It’s also too heavy. At nearly 3400 it’s nearly 1000 pounds (!) heavier than the MX-5. Oh sure, the Bimmer’s got the motor to deal with the weight, but the extra half ton will take its toll after a track day or two. If you don’t burn through a set of tires first ($1,000), you’ll lay waste to a set of brakes in no time. Not to mention wheel bearings, axle seals and anything else that will be hurt by all the heat generated by charging that car around a race track.

One more thing; it’s too fast. What? Yes, too fast. Having all that power will do nothing more than to mask any mistakes you’re making. Rather than learning a better line or working on your braking, you’ll simply use the power to pass less powerful cars but better driven cars on every straightaway. Sure, you might be one of the fast cars on the track, but unless you’re diligent and really seek out instruction, it would be all too easy to become just another mediocre driver with a fast car.”

Full comparison continued

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1055790044 Alvin Wong

    While I like the 1 series, I have to agree with Edmunds on this one. The MX-5 really is the meaning of a balanced, affordable and fun roadster. Always has been, even if it’s gained some pounds since the NA generation.

    The fact still remains that the 135i is too expensive and far too heavy. While it being “too fast” is purely subjective, Edmunds definitely has a valid point about the Miata being a better drivers car, especially for those who want to learn and be better at driving properly.

    • FreudeKing

      your too expensive and too heavy are also subjective and rather relative. Why would you compare premium with this wannabe sports car in any case. Of course the 135i is relatively heavier because it uses quality materials. I like premium and quality things. This is also the reason why the BMW is more expensive – is it simply better. Just look at the chassis and suspension of the 135i and you will see that you are not buying just another Mazda 2 or any other Mazda for that matter with 4 wheels.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1055790044 Alvin Wong

        Being more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. It just means you’re paying a premium for things you may or may not need or want. That’s exactly why the Miata is still the world’s best selling roadster. It’s affordable, light and with double wishbone suspension all around it’s still one of the best handling cars ever made. It’s anything but wannabe.

        But hey, if you really feel like paying a premium makes you sleep better at night, no one is holding a gun to your head.

        • FreudeKing

          I pay a premium when the premium is value for money. Why are you even here arguing about whether you should pay a premium for cars or not.

          Most people want a car to get them from A to B, so they drive Toyotas and Mazdas. I look for more in life and want the best, so I will pay a premium price for the best. So stop comparing sub premium to premium as we most certainly have different goals in life and the things we value.

          • xmax

            FK, I envy the simplicity of your world – premium good, sub premium (as in everything else) bad… end of story. The rest of us are saddled with the burden of actually trying things and judging them on merit like how a car behaves on the road. I’ve owned RX-8 and 330i and loved both. Funny thing, a couple of instructors I met at a track day, who actually race bimmers in amateur series, had RX-8s as their personal cars and agreed that, while the Mazda certainly could use more power at the rear wheel, the handling was on par with bimmers. Perhaps they just wanted to get from A to B or weren’t educated on the whole premium/sub-premium thing.

      • Wooo hoo.

        Wannabe sports car? You talking about the 135? If so I’d have agree with you.

        1er is a waste that eats into the Mini market, BMW should drop it.

        • KeyboardWarrior

          If the 135i is a sports car wannabe for you, then your beloved Mazda would be an entry level Kia competitor.

          You do not know what you are talking about when you say it eats into the Mini market. I drive a 1 Series and would not have bought a Mini in any case. On top of that, The Mini’s selling price is significantly less than the 1 Series. Also BMW should not drop the 1 Series as it has won many fans all over the world. This car is based on the successful BMW 2002 from decased ago. I love the 1 Series!. This car is too significant for BMW and the human race. To suggest dropping it would be like suggesting BMW to drop the M3. Of course, you wouldn’t understand as dropping any Mazda would not make a huge difference, but this is BMW we are talking about. From the above, I can see that you are jealous. I guess the 1 Series just takes all the glory when it stands next to your beloved Mazda at the parking lot or at the traffic lights. You should rather go woo hoo at a Mazda blog site, if they even have one.

    • ARON

      So the MX-5 is better because it’s 1.) less expensive, 2.) lighter, 3.) easier to drive for inexperienced drivers and 4.) less powerful? Um, that doesn’t really sound like a valid argument—especially when your audience is [presumably] the driving enthusiast.

      I drive a 135i. It feels well-planted and solid, and yet it’s very responsive to driver inputs. The handling is unlike anything else I’ve ever driven. And yes, the power is crazy—but between the build quality, suspension and breaks, you never feel out of control.

      I’m sure the MX-5 is a great car, but it would never be on my list of cars to own. Just like any MX-5 driver would never consider a BMW. Bottom line, you buy a sports car because of the driving experience… NOT because it’s cheap and easy to drive. Whichever car you choose, it will have nothing to do with most of the points made in this article.

  • Laszlo

    yeah, sure. Its a sour soup isn’t it ? it is more expensive then the Miata but also its a BMW. it always has been. absolutely wrong car to compare it to. The 135i needs to go face off with Audi A3, Mazda 5, Mercedes C-classe, Chevy whatever, Dodge Stratus, Infiniti G35, Nissan 350Z, etc.
    its expensive but its FUN. Its heavy ? yes, but all other cars are heavy too. Don’t compare it to a miniature convertible that has been a most fun convertible ever. not fair. not in a same class. compare the mini to the mazda mx5.

    • Lariv

      If the Mini was compared to the MX-5 the MX-5 would win hands down.

  • Andrew

    this seems like a silly comparison that would have obvious results if you’re looking at it from a strictly performance perspective….The 135i is great at wearing many hats while the Miata only does a handful of things right.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1055790044 Alvin Wong

      That is true. The 135i is the jack of many trades, but it’s a master of none. The MX-5 on the other hand may not do as many things as well as the 135i, but what little it does right, it’s absolutely brilliant and uncontested.

      • FreudeKing

        These are just petty little words you are talking. What about the 135i’s superior engine and handling dynamics? These are two areas that the 135i is extremely good at. IMO, the MX-5’s handling is not up to scratch although some may disagree.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000325894622 Hubert Jadczak

    BMW > All

    • Guest

      I can’t believe people are actually arguing this.

      A Mazda better than a BMW?

      HAHA.

  • Unknown

    ahahahaha mazda?!!! say that again… mazda !!! against a FANTASTIC PIECE OF GERMAN ENGINEERING(BMW 135i) well all u mazda mx5 fans can just ‘zoom zoom’ into a shit hole! This is bloody ridiculous !

  • Babken

    You must be drunk. The FANTASTIC PIECE OF GERMAN ENGINEERING IS MERCEDES-BENZ, and bmw is just a weak alternative.

    • FreudeKing

      The only thing that Merc has been able to achieve is to give its aged owners and drivers a comfortable car and the way to do that is to add more cushion in the seats and a softer suspension with a steering wheel that can be turned with 1 fingure. IF that is what you call engineering superiority, then I guess you would be happy with all Japanese cars as well.

    • Bimmer

      Mr Babken…..by the way can you mention only one innovative system introduced by mercedes benz? i will be waiting your reply …hahahaha

      • The Lee

        How about the automobile? Is that innovative and significant enough? If not, there’s the internal-combustion engine, the modern radiator, float carbs, 4-wheel brakes, traction control, seat belt tensioners, etc.

        Yes, some of the MB fanboys on here are irritating in their blind fanaticism. However, to counter it by making the insinuation that Mercedes Benz has contributed nothing to the automotive industry is absolutely ludicrous.

      • krepus

        Hmmmm…. I dunno, the automobile maybe? Long before BMW hit the road…
        Personally, the Miata wins hands down. Although to be honest, these two vehicles aren’t even in the same class… it’s almost as bad as comparing an Elise and a Corolla.

        For $40k, I’d buy a used M3… and get more practicality if I just HAD to buy a Bimmer…

  • The Lee

    If budget is of any concern whatsoever, the MX-5 is the car to go with. It’s the king-of-the-hill for budget track cars, and as of right now it doesn’t seem to be in any real danger of losing that crown.

    I have no doubt that the 135 is a better all-around car, but is it good enough to justify the price difference between not only MSRP but parts to keep it on the track?

    BTW, I’m a life-long BMW fanboy and I earn a living working with BMWs… I have a Miata myself and have no intentions on ever getting rid of it. It’s just too much damned fun.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1055790044 Alvin Wong

      I would like to shake your virtual hand, good sir. You’re not like some of the other people around here.

      • The Lee

        Thanks. E-shake returned, sir.

        I pride myself in not being a shill or a mindless follower of logos, and I do my best to keep an open mind about everything until I have enough personal experience to formulate an opinion.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1055790044 Alvin Wong

          Exactly. I love BMWs and I always will, but it’s always good to keep an open mind about other things. It’s just a healthier way of thinking.

          • viper

            Virtual masturbation over a rubbish article. Hilarious that some people think there’s some sort of e-honor over defending an article comparing a Miata to a 135i.

            Have fun driving your silly looking Miata and reading your Edmunds. You’re well suited for each other.

  • okeribok

    The mazda is a fun car. I drove it and don’t want it. It feels like it runs out of breath compared to my 320d. Also the buttons for the electric windows are positioned so, that when shifting the windows go up and down because it’s exactly where my hand rests. More than a bit annoying.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1055790044 Alvin Wong

      At least you test drove one. It’s okay, the Miata isn’t catered to everyone. It’s not designed to be something practical, it’s designed to be cheap and fun.

  • FreudeKing

    This guy is an idiot comparing the premium 1 Seres to some Japanese crap. I mean, complaining about the car being too heavy – well, this is a car based on the 3 Series, which is what the M3 is based on as well. Too expensive – well that’s why this car is not for you – go back to drive your Mazda. Too scared you will drive it to the wall – not if we haev good drivers, not like yourself. This thing about things getting heated up with friction due to weight is a load of bs. I bet you the 1 Series will last much longer than some Japanese so called sports cars. As a matter of fact, their engines are so cheap they normally give in after reaching 100k. This guy sounds like he is a complete nerd!

    You know what: the 135i is relatively heavier because it uses quality materials and not something based on the Mazda 2 with cheap plastics or something, it gives the car stability. It is powerful because it is a BMW with an engine that won numerous top international engine of the year awards, it is fast because it is for those who have a passion for cars, it is expensive becasue it is premium and not for everyone like you. So you go drive your Mazda 2 and whatever other Mazdas you desire and whisper zoom zoom to yourself while I stick with my BMWwith a smile, knowing that it is the ultimate driving machine.

    • The Lee

      A) My Miata has 165k miles on it, and still runs strong.

      B) Making blanket statements such as “some Japanese crap” only serves to make you look like a bigot. Personally, your opinion means less than nothing to me because right out of the gate you showed that your biases against Japanese cars eliminate any possibility in you making a fair assessment on a vehicle solely based on its merits.

      C) The 135i isn’t “heavier because it uses quality materials”. BMW’s plastic is just as cheap as Mazda’s plastic, and I’d venture to say that there’s A LOT more of it in the 135 than there is in the Miata. Let me know how that “expensive” plastic holds up for you over time… We replace A LOT of it on a very regular basis at the shop.

      Listen, you’re more than entitled to your opinions. However, I do ask that they be based on facts instead of auto-racism, false perceptions and ignorance.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1055790044 Alvin Wong

      Ah…so the elitists finally come out of the woodwork. I suppose even the trolls who roam this blog have their counterparts.

    • krepus

      the Mazda 2, BTW, is a front wheel drive hatch economy car… maybe getting outside and driving that ultimate driving machine would do you some good…

      Never seen a 135 ftd at a local autox… come to think of it, never seen one at the track…

  • viper

    EDMUNDs are one sorry excuse for car enthusiasts. They need to go back to cleaning windows, or w/e they’re good at.

    Why don’t you take a Cobra 427 and a BMW 760i series to the track for your next feature and tell us all how you wouldn’t recommend the 760i for a weekend warrior track car.

    • The Lee

      Did you read the article? At all? Any of it? Did you read the part where they gave two editors the ability to purchase any vehicle of their choosing under $40k to be used at a track day?

      In this instance, they are competing for the same market. Two people with the same purpose in mind purchased those two cars. That, at least for this one instance, means those two cars were competing for the same sales dollar.

      Yes, they are two very, very different cars. Will most people who want a 135i be happy with a Miata? No. Will most people who want a Miata be content with teh 135i’s monthly payments? Hell no. They do have some overlapping market, though, which is exactly where this article was aimed.

      • viper

        I didn’t just read That article – I’ve read lots of their articles. And they always come up with stupid excuses for comparing oddly placed cars.

        Edmunds blow. Regularly. Get off your high horse.

        • krepus

          Then stop reading edmunds, you dolt! Lol!

  • http://xn--4dbbnv1afv1az.com/ yori

    If the 135i is a sports car wannabe for you, then your beloved Mazda would be an entry level Kia competitor.

    You do not know what you are talking about when you say it eats into the Mini market. I drive a 1 Series and would not have bought a Mini in any case. On top of that, The Mini’s selling price is significantly less than the 1 Series. Also BMW should not drop the 1 Series as it has won many fans all over the world. This car is based on the successful BMW 2002 from decased ago. I love the 1 Series!. This car is too significant for BMW and the human race. To suggest dropping it would be like suggesting BMW to drop the M3. Of course, you wouldn’t understand as dropping any Mazda would not make a huge difference, but this is BMW we are talking about. From the above, I can see that you are jealous. I guess the 1 Series just takes all the glory when it stands next to your beloved Mazda at the parking lot or at the traffic lights. You should rather go woo hoo at a Mazda blog site, if they even have

    http://xn--4dbjabcofz3b1d.net/

  • n8n

    WTF is this?? BMW is PREMIUM and mazda is cheap. There’s nothing to compare…

  • David Whitney

    Well, I own an E90 M3, have owned a 997 GT3 and tracked both; I have not owned an MX-5, but have tracked both the early version and the current one and I absolutely agree with the author. If you actually want to learn how to drive well on a track there is nothing “cheap” about the Mazda except for the price and the cost to operate. If you actually owned a bimmer and got the CCA magazine Roundel, you would hear from a techie all the things that are wrong with your premium BMW. And everybody has been uniform in panning the 135i as a track car; nothing that can’t be fixed, but understeers like a pig out of the stock box.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=666395932 Andrew Baddeley

    I’m an owner of a 135i but you really can’t fault the logic as to why the MX5 is a better purchase for this specific use if on a budget: “It’s lightweight will also helps parts like tired, brakes and wheel bearing to last longer, letting you spend your money on track days and
    fuel rather than costly upkeep.”. The 135i ticked all the right boxes though especially looking the part and being RWD, larger engine than my previous Mk5 GTI. But costs are a concern if tracking it (I’m saving for a set of seperate wheels and tyres – nothing is cheap on this car).

  • Gene

    I do know one thing for sure. The origin of these two brands of cars lost the last world war big time, but put a good fight. I do think they are beating us in car wars though, for now. BMW is not just another snooty logo, but some of the owners sure are. Wish I could disguise a BMR so as not to be associated with them. I just like the driving pleasure, I don’t want the attention. Same with Mazda.

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