Read the foremost automotive publication, Car and Driver, has to say about the Miata (use your browser's back button to return).
Compare this to what they have to say about a car like the BMW Z3. Nice, surely, for a car that sets you back only 10k more. But not a word about wanting to pay your taxes.
For another opinion, see what Edmund's, (yes, from the car prices), has to say about the Miata. The Honda del Sol did not last the way out of the airport.
Here is a comparison test with the BMW Z3, also from Edmund's. What do you say to someone who thinks that a Z3 may be superior to a Miata? No, a polite response. How about: 'When did you last drive a Miata?'
Would like to see a cold-hearted assesment of the facts, rather than the adoration of sentimental automotive journalists? Consumer Digest selected the Miata as a 1997 best buy. Here is why.
Here is what the highly respected automotive journalist Alan Vonderhaar has to say about the Z3 and Miata: for pure sports car fun, you'd be better served by the Miata.
Automobile Magazine named the Miata one of their 1997 All-Stars.
AutoVantage's conclusion about the Z3.
Need more? Here is the Car Place about the Miata: there is nothing available at any price that delivers more sheer joy behind the wheel.
This is what the Car Place thinks about the Z3: it sounds like a moped.
Here is some info from the leading Australian automotive magazine, Wheels, about the Z3: the Z3 fails to offer the same excitement as an MX-5.
Personally I do not see why there should be this rivalry between what everyone agrees are two fine cars. My own opinion on the BMW Z3 is the following: While the Miata is essentially unchanged in the 1997 model year, Mazda is planning a major redesign for 1998. Presumably the new car will be a fine one. But it will not be a Miata. So get one this year or kick yourself for the rest of your life.
(That does not mean that long term users cannot see ways that the Miata can be improved. In fact there was a discussion about desirable changes for the 1998 model year on rec.autos.makers.mazda.miata. The majority felt the ignition keyhole is hard to find in the dark and could be improved.)