The Miata is great, but some people want more power for less.
We're huge fans of the latest generation ND MX-5 Miata, which comes packing more modern technology while maintaining the incredible driving dynamics that make the Miata fun. Even though we love the MX-5, our favorite model prices out at around $29,115 without any options. That's for the Club trim with the manual transmission. The Miata is great, but $30,000 is still a lot for a car with "just" 155 horsepower. For those who like their sports car to have a bit more power, we have found five cheaper used alternatives to a new Miata.
The Miata is a very special car, but why settle for a Mazda when for less money you could get a BMW? Not just any BMW, one that has been tuned by the M Division. The old M Coupe is already skyrocketing in value, but the BMWM Roadster is much more reasonably priced. Only 3,042 M Roadsters were built from 2006 to 2008. This car has the same 3.2-liter S54 straight-six as the E46 M3 330 hp. That's more than double what the Miata has. Unlike the M3, the Z4 only came with a six-speed manual transmission. It may be much more expensive to maintain than a new Miata, but we found good examples for less than $20,000.
It's almost impossible to have a conversation about affordable, used convertibles without mentioning the Honda S2000. To this day, the S2000 is still one of the best cars that Honda has ever produced. The car is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with VTEC that produces 240 hp. That's good even by today's standards. With a new set of LED headlights and taillights and a modern infotainment system, the S2000 would look modern enough to be sold today. Prices are starting to go up on these, but high mileage examples can still be found for under $10,000.
The Nissan 370Z is a bit dated today, but buying a used one can be a pretty good bargain. We prefer the coupe, but a used 370Z roadster is darn good value. Older examples with higher mileage only cost between $10,000 to $15,000, but newer ones can come closer to $30,000. As the "370" in the name suggests, the car uses a 3.7-liter V6 producing 332 hp going out to a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic. It may not be as light and nimble as the Miata, but it is much more powerful.
Like the Z4 M, the MercedesSLK 55 is one of the most forgotten cars from the Mercedes AMG division. That's why used SLK 55 models are now unbelievably affordable. The base SLK was always considered a bit of a "soft" sports car, but this AMG version is powered by a 5.4-liter V8 with 355 hp. Like the BMW, maintenance will be expensive. Luckily these can be found for around $10,000 less than a new Mazda Miata.
The Miata is incredibly light and nimble, but some people really like to have a bare bones experience. We managed to find a couple of 2005 Lotus Elise examples that were a bit cheaper than a new Miata. The 2005 Lotus Elise only produces 190 hp from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder, which is still more than the Miata. The Miata is extremely light at only 2,332 pounds, but the Elise is lighter still at 1,975 pounds.