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Comparison: Tough Decision....(more) (archive)

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Posted by Sue Esponte on January 17, 2000 at 08:27:18:

In Reply to: considering a Z3 but I have some questions posted by jason on January 16, 2000 at 22:48:30:

The Miata is a great car. However, complete with the leather package, sports package, et al the price rises quickly. The Miata goes from a sub $20K car to not far off the $30K mark more quickly than you'd imagine. So, the first question you should ask yourself, is how much do you really want to spend on a car. The miata handles extremely well, the transmission is great, and even though the little 1.8 liter is far from powerful, its certainly peppy enough to be a lot of fun.

The Z3, however, gives you the feel of being in a larger, heavier, safer, and certainly more powerful car. Compare 4 airbags in the Z3 vs. 2 in the Miata, no DSC in the Miata (important in rain/snow), ABS is standard in the Z3 and actually difficult to come by in the Miata for some reason. In my opinion, the Z3 gets a huge point over the Miata in the safety category.

Some criticize the Z3 for its lack of tossability, because it drives like a heavier car than the Miata. Ironically, the same people also say that the Z3 will hold a corner better than a Miata. They are both great driving cars, each with positives and negatives. The Miata feels lighter and more tossable. It jumps into a corner, whereas the Z3 doesn't attack it as aggressively. Both hold the road well. I think you have to get behind the wheel of both of them and judge for yourself.

Shoot me for saying it, its tough not adding in the prestige factor especially if they price out similarly and you don't have a real preference towards one. A loaded Miata easily reaches $27,000. For a few thousand more you can get into a Z3. The "stare" factor is inconceivable until you've spent a summer in the Z3.

If you're thinking of leasing, another considertaion to keep in mind is the fact that even though the Z3 is more expensive, its residual value could be higher, allowing a much lower than expected lease rate. If the Miata's resale value/residual value isn't as high, the lease rates (if unsubsidized) might equal out, especially in a well equipped Miata.

Either way, make sure you know all of the facts about leasing and negotiate the SALES price of the car before even thinking about the "monthly lease payment." You'll be very happy that you did this if you understand leasing.

Styling is completely objective. I love the look of the new Miata with its sports package (front air dam, rear spoiler). Its a little too soft looking without it. The Z3 is...a pure machine. I think its beyond gorgeous. It brings a smile to my face everytime I see it...even if its not mine!

Good luck and keep us all informed. In my opinion, you can't go wrong either way.

SueZ E


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