Mazda MX5 or Audi S5 Cabriolet


I'm looking at two somewhat different cars and am stuck between a decision made with the head versus the heart.

On the relatively sensible side is the Mazda MX5 with the 2L engine, preferably in manual -

On the silly side is a 2009 Audi S5 Cabriolet -

The purchase price for both vehicles is in a similar range, I think I could pick up the MX5 for around 25k, and the S5 for several k more.

I imagine however that the maintenance for the MX5 will be reasonable, whereas the S5 could be many thousands more per year.

Does anyone have any experience in the maintenance costs of an S5 with the supercharged 6? I have looked around online however have found very little.

I know that I am comparing vastly different cars here - a lightweight roadster to a large GT car. If maintenance costs were manageable however, I'd take the S5 in a heartbeat. Nonetheless, I can be very quickly talked out of this when confronted with perhaps the harsh realities of owning a 10-year-old European performance car.

Thanks for any thoughts you might be able to share.


  • How is hairdressing working out for you?

    • Really well actually! My biggest worry with these convertibles however is that the wind might ruin my styled hair, hope I can find a good deflector!

      • How tall are you? (legit question for the MX5)

        • Good question, and something I have thought about. I actually don't know my exact height, but I'm definitely on the tall side and appreciated the spaciousness of my previous commodore.

          If I'm going to fit comfortably, it's not going to be by much…

          • @soaringphoenix: I'm 6'3, drove a 2016 MX5 Roadster that we traded for a night. A night was all I could do, and that was because I just wanted to try it lol

            Head was on the roof and just felt silly. Legs weren't as straight as I'd like either.

            Also, worth mentioning the couple who traded it admitted it was a stupid decision, and that the boot was way too small even for a weekend away. This was the hard-top roadster though, but still…

            • @spackbace: Good to know, I'm going to measure my height at the next opportunity now. If I were to guess, I'd say I'm at least 6'.

              Comfort is important as it will be a daily driver.

              I'm not concerned by the lack of practicality. I'm approaching 30 and children will be on the horizon, so this is likely my last opportunity to own a car with no back seat or boot space, at least for a while!

          • @soaringphoenix: Can I suggest maybe a WRX/Evo? Roomy, sporty, parts/servicing relatively easy to come by, still offers you the sportiness of the SS

  • Option 3 - 2019 MX-5 with New engine 0-100 under 6s Redline @7500rpm

    • That's an impressive time, but unfortunately out of my budget. Plus, I couldn't bear the depreciation of owning a new vehicle.

      If I had the 40k or so needed for a brand new model, I'd probably put it towards some other used model. (Hard to find numbers, but my understanding is that the listed S5 should do just under 6s!)

  • needs a rotary.
    or at least a turbo.

    opening lines;
    - Late to your client’s hair appointments? Sick of the same boring drive? Time to buy a turbo mx5. With 200kw at the rear wheels this mx5 is no slouch


    • A hugely appealing and exciting option let down only by the complete lack of safety features. Having recently been involved in an accident that wrapped my SS around a pole, I would prefer a vehicle with modern safety features.

  • You do not sound like an experienced car enthusiast. Stick with the MX5. The ongoing cost is much more predictable and you won't be put off doing some basic work because it is a fairly basic car.

    The S5 doesn't necessarily have to be expensive but it absolutely can be if you know nothing and at the mercy of the mechanic.

    Also, the MX5 is much more fun to drive IMO.

    • I guess it depends on what it means to be 'experienced'.

      I'm experienced from the perspective of having read car magazines etc. for the past 10 years, having an obsessive passion for cars, etc. I've owned a VEII SS commodore for the past 5 years (which ultimately cost me $5k in having the engine rebuilt last year, before it was later written off in a not-at-fault accident). This I suspect is not what you are referring to however.

      I'm totally inexperienced from the perspective of having any sort of mechanical knowledge, absolutely. If anything goes wrong with the S5, I will naively accept the 'expertise' of the mechanic.

      • With older VAG vehicles, I have found many of my cars throw up error codes and I have to reset these from time to time, so at least basic VAGCOM knowledge is a must.

        To know that these issues are random, you must first be able to check the alleged problems, ie fluid levels perpetually low when in fact it is not, or headlights supposedly blown, or auto leveller stopped working (not a false read on that one).

        And changing components… Everything seems to be monitored by VAGCOM so if you accidentally disconnect something whilst servicing/replacing parts and even if you reconnected it, you'd have to go in and reset.

        Imagine if the mechanic replaced every part that was on a false error flag…

        • Thank you for sharing your expertise. I'd be capable of reading and looking up the error codes, but even the basic mechanical tasks (including servicing/replacing parts) are not things that I would be doing - due to both a lack of knowledge and time. I suppose the conclusion to take from this is that I'd again be at the whim of a mechanic.

          • @soaringphoenix: Go the MX5, it's so light you should be able to tilt it on its side and change the oil, kinda like vacuuming under the sofa.

            Not quite but close enough :P

  • Never ever a good idea to purchase a 10 year old European car out of warranty. Not even a special or desirable one at that.

    • not as a daily,
      but maybe as a collectable/toy…. plenty to choose from there

  • I would choose the MX5 based on looks alone.

  • I'm buying a 2009 C63 AMG for around $35,000 - $40,000. Been my favourite car for a decade.

  • I think the MX5 is the better car, especially the 2019 update, but the S5 is a good car too.

    The supercharge v6 is one of the more reliable engines in the Audi lineup. It can suffer from carbon build up as it's only direct injected however it's a minor problem that's easily fixed. The thermostat will probably need replacing if it hasn't as it is prone to cracking/leaking on older VAG cars. Otherwise the B8 S5 has been one of the most reliable modern Audi's and if you service it at an independent specialist, maintenance costs will actually be quite reasonable considering the performance of the car. Lastly, the S5 responds extremely well to aftermarket tuning as the engine is quite under-stressed from factory.

    I would choose MX5 if you don't need the practicality.

    P.S. Make sure DSG (transmission) has been serviced, usually every 4 years.

  • i here Audi's are the new commodores in the burbs

  • to me the main issue would be manual vs auto and RWD vs FWD.

  • For a guy the Audi, for a chick the MX5

  • Should ask them if the timing chain tensioners have been done on the Audi. They are a common problem, and a nightmare to replace, have to drop the engine and trans out to do it.

  • i am extremely biased byt reading that you're about 6', you could always pickup a great nissan skyline 370gt, even import something from japan thats been modified or supercharged

    I own a 370gt, drive all sorts of cars and its a damn fine piece of engineering and is extremely reliable. Im at 172k on mine and it the damn thing is a masterpiece of engineering.

    There are a few up for sale on gumtree/facebook which have some fantastic upgrades, easily could get one for $14k and spend $8k super charging it and you would have a monster of a car

  • When I was deciding which car to get next, I rented a very similar model for a day. This made my decision so much easier. I had a number of concerns that I wasn't convinced a normal test drive would answer.

    Not sure where you're from, but perhaps you could see if that's an option for you?

    Have you seen both cars in person?

  • Mx5 is definitely more fun and reliable.
    Also the depreciation would be lower on the Mazda compared to the Audi (value of those things drops like a rock).