1991 - 1994 Mercury Capri vs. Mazda Miata
Which one is better?
The trouble in selecting which one is a better sport car depends entirely on what you really want it for. Universally, sport car buffs will cite the Mazda Miata as the superior car in just about all categories, yet, from 1991-93, both shared near identical engines and similar suspensions because while the Miata was a Mazda, so was the Mercury Capri because Ford owned Mazda.
The competition between the cars was who was there first- in this case, the Miata. The Capri would have been first but Ford wanted it to have a trunk and rear seat instead of only two seats. This delayed production a year. It would cost Capri dearly because only 21,000 were sold that year when 33,000 was hope for.
Owning the Miata is better for a real sport car with two seats. It handles well. Even though the Capri had the same engine, it was front wheel drive and simply not as fast and handling suffered. But, this only matters if you race around town or at the track. In a every day life of practicality, Ford had the right idea: a sport car not for racing tracks but for singles or small families around town.
This is where Capri wins hand down. The rear seat is indeed large enough for one adult or up to two kids. The trunk is ample enough for many day to day things, such as, groceries, small boxes. The top sinks into the frame and highlights the car's clean lines that do not show its age for 19 yrs. While owning the 100hp AT version is a dog, the manual 5 spd and XR2 Turbo, provide enough zoom for any town or city. Like the Miata, the Capri is nimble and tight and drivers love to drive it. No, you won't win races but it is a cool car that is practical also.
Both are reliable, using a 1.6L overhead cam. With proper maintenance, the XR2 engine can last to 200K, the non-turbo, to 240K. Oddly enough, the Miata has no turbo version nor does it have front wheel drive at least in 1991-94.
The Miata does have much higher resell value and reputation than the Capri, so the Capri is like a poor mans sport car and with only 66000 made, will no doubt be a collector car by 2020. So, it comes down to whether you want a straight, traditional sport car or a quasi- sport car with some practicality.