By on August 31, 2009

Volkswagen’s BlueSport is still in concept form, but that didn’t stop Autobild from taking it out and comparing it to Mazda’s Miata, the industry standard for affordable fun. “Not bad, truly not bad,” is how the BlueSport’s creator Marco Fabiano describes the Miata, his concept’s intended prey. Which means the BlueSport will have to be “damn good, truly damn good” to break Mazda’s 20-year stranglehold on the entry-roadster market. At least VW is clear on that much going into the project.

Autobild says that the 95 km/h-limited BlueSport feels “similar” to the MX-5, even though it hasn’t got the production go-ahead yet and the diesel engine still sounds like a tractor. But the stomach “kribbelt” around the corners and the shove is said to be admirable, which is what really matters. And since the front suspension is Polo-based, and the mid-engine drivetrain is a shoved-back Golf’s transverse unit, the BlueSport should cost less (in Europe, anyway) than the Miata. They’re saying under €25k.

On the less positive side, wasn’t this basic strategy attempted with Toyota’s MR2 Spyder? Sure, the MR2 never had a diesel option, stop-start technology, or any of VW’s conceptual teases, but otherwise the concept was remarkably similar. And despite benchmarking the Mazda, Toyota’s roadster came up well short in terms of sales. Given that VW is planning Audi, Seat and possibly Porsche versions of the same concept, VW also runs the risk of replicating the MR2’s “success” across several line-blurring brands.

But, hey, since when do enthusiasts care if a car makes money? Any competition for the Miata is enough to warrant a positive post. Because who’s going to blame us when VW decides to not bring it stateside?

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46 Comments on “Positive Post Of The Day: Miata Gets Some Competition Edition...”

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    It was the basic strategy on the Pontiac Fiero too.

  • avatar

    I really, really, really like the looks of this VW. Clean, handsome, confident, lithe, with no contrivances at all. Please keep it that way.

  • avatar

    BlueSport looks much better than the recently face lifted, permanently smiling Miata.

    Not sure if the mid-engine thing will kill it. My Miata has a pretty decent trunk for the size of the car.

  • avatar

    Another interesting concept was the Dodge Demon. I would think there is room for competition, but whoever does it just has to do a really good job of it.

  • avatar

    A diesel-powered mid-engined roadster with FWD and VW’s legendary reliability. Um, yeah. No. As long as Mazda sticks with its basic formula, the Miata will see off this pretender just as it has every other.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Theodore: It’s mid-engine, RWD. FWIW.

  • avatar

    either the Bluesport is going to be a total loser in the USA, or there’s a MAJOR error in the blog. 95 km/hr = 58 mph.

  • avatar

    Interesting, but I’d take front engine, RWD instead — Miata or S2000.


  • avatar

    As a Miata owner, the Miata is gonna be tough to dethrone…it’s really a complete package. Waaay fun, affordable, absolutely bulletproof, and with enough storage space for a weekend trip (or a ‘light’ trip to the grocery store.)

    GM tried, and while the Solstice/Sky were a sharp-looking valid attempt, the crap interiors, fiddly folding top, and having absolutely NO luggage space, cast the losing vote.

    The VW looks hot though, and if they give it a decent front/rear trunk, could be a contender…but then, it is going to steal entry-level Boxster sales? Would a Boxster be worth another $20K?

  • avatar

    VW probably doesn’t understand the “dead reliable” part of the Miata formula. No matter how fun to drive, how great the look, if it’s a giant POS like most other VDubs, it’s toast.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Holzman: the drivable concept is limited to 95 km/h. Production version won’t.

  • avatar

    Looks cool but will they be able to get it under 3500lbs?

  • avatar

    Surprised that they’re making it RWD. Don’t think it’ll help much, but it’s something, although the diesel engine and VW reliability is still more than enough to push me away.

  • avatar

    VW looks nice, and I have nothing against diesel in such a car. The biggest problem (besides VW’s unenviable reputation for reliability) will be pricing. Mazda costs €25K in the EU because of EU’s duties on Japanese cars. That way VW can compete on price. In the US VW will likely be a lot more expensive than the Miata. That could be the final nail in its coffin.

    Besides, knowing VW, they would probably stick its 2.5L engine in it for the US market to make sure no one ever buys it.

  • avatar

    Despite the Miata’s weigh gain over the years (which many of us share), it has managed to be honest, straightforward and bulletproof. Easy to drive, easy to buy, easy to service. That’s been a great part of its charm; classic roadster feel without the classic roadster drawbacks.

    The BlueSport has little in common with this formula except for the bodystyle and price point. Mid-engine? Difficult to service. Diesel? Difficult to service and not associated with roadsters. Volkswagen? Not known for consistent reliability nor particularly good dealer service.

    For some reason, only Mazda seems to be able to get this formula right. Everyone else tries to copy it, but seems to get side-tracked along the way.

  • avatar

    sfdennis1: I sort of doubt that there will be a noticeable dent in Boxster sales because of the VW, mostly due to the brand equity and badge snobbery of the Porsche name. Although it may have an effect on the used Boxster market. I agree with you 100% about the Miata. It is basically the perfect package and any true competitor is going to have to be damn near perfect in nearly every way to even have a hope of dethroning the Miata. Good luck to them.

  • avatar

    I love that somebody has *finally* had the balls to consider offering a Diesel-powered sports car in the USA. People have forgotten that the origins of the sports car were all about handling and FUN, not horsepower and speed. The traditional British roadsters (upon which the Miata owes its very existence) such as the MG, Triumph, and Austin-Healey, were modest in their horsepower, with frankly agricultural powertrains, but what they lacked in power they made up for (and then some) in sheer joy. They were also cheap to buy, and cheap to operate. Your MG B or A-H Sprite from the early 60s managed mid-30s or better for MPG, something it appears very few Miatas can do for you. Sure you had to deal with rust, the Prince of Darkness, and later British-Leyland build quality, something the Japanese have designed out of the Mazda, and presumably the folks in Wolfsburg can do as well.

    The prospect of a BioFuelled roadster turns my crank far more than any electric motor can. At 1/6th the price of a Tesla, the Blue Motion is a tempting prospect indeed.


  • avatar

    The Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky were fine visually, bu no trunk and cheap materials put them in the why wouldn’t I just buy the superior Miata category. So even though the VW looks nice enough, unless they can at least equal the Miata in practicallity and reliability, explain to me why would I want it instead of a Miata?

  • avatar

    There goes what’s left of the resale on a Boxster

  • avatar

    To it’s credit, the Miata has only gained about 300lbs since it’s introduction in 1990. That is incredible considering how cars have been going (I’m looking at you Accord).

  • avatar

    As a Miata owner, my biggest concern with a MR car is making it easy to drive fast. The Toyota MR-S drove very well, but you needed either more skill or more caution. The Miata isn’t necessarily fast, but it feels fast and it also feels friendly.

    I’ll give VW the benefit of the doubt on reliability, because I’m not actually buying one. But based on their sporty cars, I don’t think they’re good at simple and light. I think this roadster will end up being a baby R8 in the Eos’s price range.

  • avatar

    What the hell happened to Mazda’s design department? They go from the gen 3 RX7, gen 1 and 2 miata’s and the beautiful MX-6 to these bulging fendered absurdities.

    I thought they made some of the best looking Japanese cars for quite awhile, now I would hand that award to Nissan.

    That being said the VW looks nice, it would be neat to see a diesel in a sports car.

    Oh and also, the last MR-2 was FUGLY!

  • avatar

    It looks teutonic and masculine while the Miata looks asian and feminine. Both can work, but each will appeal to a different type of buyer.

  • avatar

    You Americans don’t know how lucky you are when it comes to car pricing. Your cheap thrills are Canada’s expensive cars.

    Bone stock MX-5
    Canada: $28,995
    US: $22,500 (incl dest. charge)

    Top level MX-5 (GT with retractable hard top)
    Canada: over $45,000
    US: $29,000

  • avatar

    Damn the TTAC double standard! VW badge engineers the Pontiac Fiero and TTAC makes no mention of it in the article.


    New to Mid-engines? Check.
    Relocated pedestrian (Polo/Chevette)drivetrain? Check.
    Carry-over suspension? Check.
    Unreliability concerns? Check.
    Pitched as frugal fun? Check.

    I am sure it will work! Until the first few catch fire, of course.

  • avatar

    I wonder if they’ll get the formula right. Good handling (fun), good reliability (practical), good economy (affordable), lightweight (all the above) and trunk space (livable)!

    Previous contenders had some of the above, but not all. And none of them had the trunk space that the Miata had. That’s been a common complaint among the MR2, and Solstice/Sky. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but without one, it relegates it to “weekend car only” for many people, and that turns it into a niche of a niche car. Which is too bad, but it made my MR2 that much more “exclusive”, haha.

    Looks are not for me, personally. It’s a little too fancy for a car that should exude “simplicity”. But I’m sure a lot of people will find it appealing.

  • avatar

    Theodore: It’s mid-engine, RWD. FWIW.

    Yeah but it’s still got that “legendary VW reliability”. Hardy har har.

    Mazda might have plenty of other things to worry about, fending off a competitor from the likes of VeeDub ain’t one of them

  • avatar

    “I am sure it will work! Until the first few catch fire, of course.”

    Since it’s diesel powered, catching the fuel on fire will be difficult. Were you thinking of the flaming fierro?

  • avatar

    Yeah but it’s still got that “legendary VW reliability”. Hardy har har.

    I don’t think VW is that concerned about what sells in the US. . Your average Euro customer just doesn’t seem to care very much about reliability. With Europe being VW’s largest market, they don’t seem care about reliability either.

  • avatar

    the mr2 had no storage space, making it more like the solstace than the miata.

    if the vw has a trunk, it will be successful.

  • avatar

    The info I saw on the Bluesport suggested that the US version would likely use the 2.0T from the the GTI and cost closer to $30k. Both of those facts seem more realistic to me because a) Americans still haven’t warmed to oil burners and b) the average VW costs more than the average Mazda. I’d probably pay a bit extra to a get a baby-Boxster over a baby-S2000.

  • avatar

    “…the Miata is gonna be tough to dethrone…it’s really a complete package.”

    Yeah, it is going to be tough. Very, very tough. In a depressed car market bringing forth a diesel Miata rival is a crazy gamble. The trick, of course, is selling the mileage of diesel.

    That and it will have to drive superbly.

  • avatar

    That is incredible considering how cars have been going (I’m looking at you Accord).

    To be fair to the Accord, it’s not fighting in the same league as it was. Honda still makes the Civic and Fit if you wanted a car about the size, mass and feature content of the 90s or 80s Accords. Back in the Miata’s heyday, Honda didn’t even compete in the medium/large-car market.

    People need to get over that.

    It’d be as if Mazda upsized the MX-5/Miata to go up against the 350Z or Corvette, but slotted an MX-1 or MX-2 underneath it.

  • avatar

    kericf :
    August 31st, 2009 at 2:41 pm
    To it’s credit, the Miata has only gained about 300lbs since it’s introduction in 1990. That is incredible considering how cars have been going (I’m looking at you Accord).

    Surprisingly, the Accord has gained about the same.

    1990 Accord Coupe EX, 5spd weighed in at about 3000 lbs.

    2010 Accord Coupe, EX 5spd I-4/EX-L 6spd V-6, are listed at 3256/3401 lbs.

    You wouldn’t know it by looking at them from the outside, though.

    Anyway, I think it’s great for the Miata to get some competition from this and (maybe) the Mini Coupe if that ever makes it anywhere (yeah the Mini is FWD, but it’s a nimble little fun car). At worst it’ll keep the price down so I can buy a new Miata sooner rather than later. :)

  • avatar

    If you read the posts here you will come to two conclusions: first, if you buy a VW it will break down from day one, and cause you as much grief and misery (along with cost) as your doctor’s Ferrari and Audio Research preamplifier. Second, if you buy a Mazda (or other Japanese car) you can drive it forever, it will cost nothing in repairs because it will never break down, and, in fact, the dealer might even pay you just to bring it in for service.

    Now, granted, the Miata defines what is left of the small, affordable sports car (witness the 300K Alfa that looks like it probably should cost about 40). However, Mazda designers could not leave well enough alone, and have turned it into something a man probably doesn’t want to be seen in. I say to VW, bring it on.

    It would, however, surprise me if this car ever sells less than 30-32K–a marketing mistake since it would therefore not be affordable to many who might otherwise consider buying it if it were 25.

  • avatar

    “I’d probably pay a bit extra to a get a baby-Boxster over a baby-S2000.”

    HERESY! Someone get me the email address of the Papal See!

    LOL…seriously, I’m surprised you haven’t raised the ire of the Miata lovers with that statement, being that they tend to view the S2000 as an overpriced, overworked excuse of a car with no low-end torque.

    I, on the other hand, am enamored of both and wish I had both in my garage to evaluate the merits of each.

  • avatar

    “Second, if you buy a Mazda (or other Japanese car) you can drive it forever, it will cost nothing in repairs because it will never break down, and, in fact, the dealer might even pay you just to bring it in for service.”

    Closer to the truth than you might think!
    The usual things I see with the 1st and 2nd gen Miatas are clutches, brake pads, window regulators, an occasional radiator or water pump, plugs and wires…and that’s about IT!
    Maybe too early to tell, but on the 3rd gen MX-5 Ive seen not a thing outright fail.
    And while I work on them daily, I also own one and for the gearheads that own a NB-series Miata, I have 2 words for you: VALVE ADJUSTMENT.
    Due at 60K miles, the clearance loosens up quite a bit, and when put in spec, the difference in throttle response and power is amazing.
    My own ’99 bears this out.

  • avatar

    Those Miata “eyes” look like BMW Z3 headlights. I know, I’ve owned both.

  • avatar

    VW has already jumped through the hoops to Federalize their 2.0 Diesel Engine. The only question is can they cram all of the extra EGR and Urea plumbing into an already snug engine bay.

    It does offer a unique proposition. The low end torque of an oil burner could even be a plus relative to a comparable gas engine.

  • avatar

    The MGF despite being of questionable reliability, killed the MX5 (Miata) in European sales when they competed – which shows it can be done. The formula has to be correct thats all. Oh and the badge, and ready made enthusiast base didn’t hurt either. I’m not sure VW has the same cachet with sports cars

  • avatar

    Yo Sergio! Hows that Nuovo X 1/9 coming? Made in Mexico with the Abarth turbo 1.4L midship.

  • avatar

    Many MR2 owners are glad that the lineage is over now. They were an incredible car for their time and are revered as ‘future classics’ in many cases. Personally, however I applaud Mazda for continuing the sports car tradition and I hope that Toyota will one day return to it’s former greatness of designing cars that people can be passionate about.

  • avatar

    Errr – is it a Boxster/Cayman underneath?

  • avatar

    the VW would be limited at 95 km/h???
    Certainly you mean 195 km/h?

    The VW looks great. VW has a long history of being a late follower – but once they enter the market segment, they become the standard, e.g. with the (european) Touran as Family Car. The EOS convertible which they presented 4 years ago did not convince me, it looked strange. But from the photo here I am sure that Roadster will be a huge success!

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    I cant buy another Mazda until they get rid of that goofy huge smiley face front.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised no one mentioned the Gen 4 Miata, rumored to be lighter, coming in a couple years. That is where the comparison will be.

    Personally, I’m glad to welcome VDub to one of the best segments in town. The more the merrier, even if they are focused slightly differently. I like the look, and I love the idea of the mid-engine diesel sports car, along with it’s possible Porsche offspring.

    Still, the next Miata or RX-7 might be the ones to grab my cash in the end. Looking forward to all of them…

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