This is an interesting trio of affordable performance cars.

mazda mx-5 miata, vw jetta gli, subaru brz face off in drag races

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It’s fun to watch high-powered performance cars and supercars click off blistering quick quarter-mile times, but those are out of the price range for many people. A new video from the Sam CarLegion YouTube channel picks more mainstream models to test – and the channel has quite the trio for the competition. The 2022 Mazda MX-5, Subaru BRZ, and Jetta GLI are tested to see which is the quickest of the affordable bunch.

The Mazda packs a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter inline-four engine that makes 181 horsepower (134 kilowatts) and 151 pound-feet (204 Newton-meters) of torque. The engine routes power through a six-speed manual to the rear wheels. The roadster weighs just around 2,400 pounds (1,088 kilograms).

Gallery: 2022 Subaru BRZ: Review

The lightly modified Subaru BRZ has a larger engine than the Miata, and it makes more power. It features a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter flat-four engine. The mill produces 228 hp (170 kW) and 184 lb-ft (250 Nm) of torque and pairs with a six-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive. It’s heavier than the Miata at 2,800 lbs (1,270 kg).

The Jetta GLI is the oddest of the bunch, powering the front wheels with its turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine. It makes 228 hp and 258 lb-ft (250 Nm) of torque, which the car pumps through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The Volkswagen is also the heaviest of the bunch, weighing 3,200 lbs (1,451 kg).

The Mazda’s most significant advantage is its launches, which gain it a sizable lead in both races. However, it’s a lead it can’t keep. The turbocharged Jetta is able to overtake the Mazda and win the race, with the Subaru taking third. The second race is much closer, with the Mazda and Jetta crossing the finish line at the same time. The Subaru finished last.

The rolling races eliminate the Mazda’s off-the-line advantage, which falls behind the Subaru and the Volkswagen in the first sprint. The second rolling race is slightly different, with the Mazda taking second place behind the Subaru and ahead of the Jetta.

The three cars offer fun and performance at an affordable price wrapped in different packages. Not everyone can justify a two-seat roadster in their life, but a four-door Jetta JLI still offers some performance without scarifying utility. 

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