Per Schroeder
Per Schroeder SuperDork
12/8/08 11:12 a.m.

There’s no doubt that the new Mazda MX-5 Miata and Pontiac Solstice are attractive cars, but appearance doesn’t mean much when you’ve got a helmet strapped on and are hurtling toward an apex at warp speed. The true sports car is not about being sporty looking—it’s about sports. Motorsports with a capital “M.” That’s where adrenaline and gasoline mix into a concoction of which only a gearhead would willingly partake.

As gearheads, we couldn’t think of anything better than taking two of these newest and most anticipated roadsters and beating the snot out of them. We’ve all read the hype on the MX-5 and the Solstice, but are they really cut out for true high-performance use?

Testing the cars at the limit would show us which, if either, was the heir to the sports car dynasty and not just a pretender to the throne. Which car would stand up to the use and abuse that an autocross or track day can dish out? How would those suspensions fare when push came to shove?

We also wanted to see how the new cars would stack up against autocross’s current lightweight roadster benchmark, the Mazda Miata. The Miata has been the poster child for autocross cars since its introduction for the 1990 model year. Its low price and fun-to-drive quotient are strong arguments that many enthusiasts have found hard to resist.

A redesign for 1999 did little to rain on the Miata enthusiast’s parade, and the car has continued to rule the roost. In fact, the second-generation Miata has become the car to have in SCCA C Stock autocross competition. Looking back, our July/August 1998 issue predicted that the 1999 Miata would unseat the first-generation Miata. That statement has since been proved true.

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