It was a toss-up between buying a Mazda MX5 and a BMW Z3. Sometimes I think I made a mistake. BMW offered me a better deal and I love the 6-cylinder engine, but service has been rubbish and reliability disappointing. What Car? finds 96 per cent of MX5s, built after 2005, fault free. Their reliability was the best in its survey. Owners report an average repair bill of £165. I hate to think what I have spent on the BMW.
The MX5 was more like the MGs and Sprites I enjoyed in my youth, but the BMW seemed up-market and premium, carefully made, less likely to wear out. The Mazda was not exactly down-market but didn’t measure up in the status stakes. It was a 4-cylinder, not raucus but scarcely as refined as the BMW. And, back then, a body with lots of aluminium and plastic and galvanised steel was not wholly convincing. Yet MX5s never seem to wear out. Last time I tested one was 2005; it was lithe, nimble, quick, responsive. The Z3 has always been a bit “touring”, which was what I thought I wanted. It seemed superior, I suppose.
I’m not sure now. The MX5 is prettier, younger, better proportioned. I have always thought of the BMW as “the classic in the garage”, and used it rather less than the practical cars getting wet sitting in the drive. I thought Z3s looked the part.