2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF 6MT Challenges Tesla Model 3 SR AWD to 60-MPH Showdown


From the very first MX-5 Miata, the Japanese roadster was never intended to wow in a straight line. Developed to be as much fun as technically possible in the corners, the little sports car doesn’t stand a chance to 60 mph (97 kilometers per hour) against an electric vehicle, let alone a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range with the dual-motor powertrain.

Despite their differences, Dave Erickson of Everyman Driver is much obliged to show us how different these unlikely contenders are in a real-world acceleration test. The MX-5 Miata RF with the six-speed manual hits the magical figure in 6.85 seconds on bone-stock tires, which is pretty good for a free-breathing motor with 2.0 liters of displacement and four cylinders.

The Model 3, by comparison, boasts a 60-mph acceleration figure of 5.64 seconds even though it’s much larger, roomier, and heavier because the e-powertrain develops maximum torque pretty much instantly. The SkyActiv-G 2.0 of the MX-5 Miata RF needs 4,000 revolutions per minute to develop 151 pound-feet (205 Nm). We should also bear in mind that engine speed – and therefore torque – takes a nosedive every time the clutch pedal is dipped, something that doesn’t happen in the most popular Tesla out there.

Be that as it may, numbers don’t tell the whole story. The sensation an MX-5 RF gives you under acceleration is unashamedly enjoyable thanks to the sound of the powerplant, low seating position, and the mechanical feel of the stick shift while the all-wheel-drive Model 3 is much obliged to give the driver and passenger(s) huge smiles by pushing them back into their seats.

If you’re interested in buying a Model 3 of your own, the bad news is that AWD is now exclusive to the Long Range and Performance while the Standard Range comes exclusively with rear-wheel drive at $39,990 excluding taxes. On the upside, the estimated delivery window is eight to 12 weeks for U.S. customers. The MX-5 Miata RF, by comparison, starts at $33,045 excluding destination charge, which is precisely $6,215 more than the soft top.