Photos from Porsche's North American website. Written by Drew Geier.
As some of you may have read elsewhere on the internet, Porsche's GT division's Director of Automotive Projects (loosely translated from German), Andreas Preuninger, has said that he likes to see his cars being used. Presumably, some of this usage will be on race tracks and various people who know stuff about track driving cars have long held that Porsche is one of the best marques to be found on a track. For a long time, I was unsure about what sort of fine engineering could really go into a car, since the numerical figures of the car didn't scream "incredible and beyond compare." The cars had big tires, sure, and good looks, but what was behind the lacklustre numbers? A flagship model shouldn't be around ~450 bhp without some sort of explanation.
Well, it's that you had to dig deeper into the actual experience. I recently had the opportunity, thankfully, to drive a Cayman GTS, Scion FR-S, and Mazda RX-8, while also riding shotgun in other cars like Nissan 350Z, Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8R Track Pack, track-prepped Subaru BRZ, and even a ~500 HP Subaru WRX STi in the same track, in similar weather conditions. In fact, you can read about the RX-8 review here: (https://www.melonsbetterdriving.com/better-drivingmotoring/rotary-revelation-i-drove-an-rx-8)
Each of these cars had some very large differences, of course, but all were more similar than you may expect in terms of the actual characteristics of the car. Each had a 6 speed gearbox, each had roughly equivalent horsepower, except the FR-S (192) and WRX STi (~500) Every other car had between 220 horsepower and 360. They all had sporty engines with high redlines, and were generally small-to-medium-sized sports cars with RWD, again excluding the WRX STi. They all had equivalent tire sizes, around 245mm wide, excluding the Cayman and the Scion FR-S. They all even had roughly neutral weight distribution, at nearly 50/50% for each car, with minor deviations for the Nissan, Hyundai and Porsche.
Numerically, then, they are competitors against each other, to some extent. But, in terms of driver feeling and overall impression, they are polar opposites.
I never understood Porsche, and how they could offer a car with similar performance figures for as much as twice as much as an equivalent rival. I never did, that is, until I drove it. The Porsche Cayman GTS has the best engine I have ever experienced. It's not too powerful, but, it's the most happily responsive, loyal dog or trusty steed of the dinosaur-burning world. It feels like it was built with magic, beyond the realm of human engineering. Entering a corner is no longer a part of a track-driving lap. The revs build instantly, as if the car knew to blip the throttle before your foot had even touched the throttle pedal. It's an art-form. It's an experience. It's an event. It's having ice cream, and sex, while puffing a spliff and listening to Rachmaninov's Vocalise. You didn't know just how great that is, until you had experienced it all at once... Not that I have, since, you know, marijuana's only being legalized here next year. You get the idea, though. It's a cacophony of noise directly behind your ears, swelling in the least time you could ever imagine it. The gears are crisp, and the changes are smooth. It doesn't feel like a gear shifter. It feels like Michelangelo's paint brush. You're creating art for your ears with the smooth-revving flat-6 behind your ears. You're creating a symphony while also gliding a paintbrush around the track, leaving stroke-marks of blackened rubber. The other cars feel dull and soulless in comparison, which has nothing to do with the numbers and nothing to do with the other cars. They're great. But, they're not Porsche-great.
So, why the hell would anyone treat a car like this as a "hedge-fund" investment? The car deserves better treatment than that. The car deserves to be driven. The car deserves to be seen and heard. It's a moving art expo. To buy one, and then promptly sell it without having even driven it is a colossal waste of your greatest opportunity to own a great car. If you're one of the people Andreas Preuninger is talking about, you're missing out. Life's too short to try to profit on a Porsche without driving it first. You can't take the money with you, but the experience of a properly great car will stay with you forever.
If you want to buy a limited edition Porsche, just to resell it for a profit, we will find you, and we will prevent you from ever buying another Porsche again. Good luck.
The Miata (also called Mazda MX-5) is often considered the automotive answer to every problem. The truth is, it's the farthest from it. Here are just a sampling of reasons why, and the solutions to each.
I'm an interesting character - I'm capable of making up my own mind and taking my own course of action. Sometimes, it's wrong, but it's my decision and my action. For this reason, I prefer to rock FWD or AWD as a platform - I'd rather be unique and stand out as an innovator, leader, or risk-taker than to blend in, within a sea of a million conformists.
So, imagine my dismay when some balding chap with a bad sense of fashion, socks and sandals included, begins to tell me that I should just do what he did and buy a Miata. There is nothing I'd rather do less than get a Miata. But, where does this hatred stem from?
Part 1: The Styling
Picture, if you will, a circle. Now, that circle is slightly oblong. Picture it with a circular grille and some inefficient, archaic pop-up headlights making a dopey face that often seems to be fake-smiling, the way someone with serious depression does when talking to their boss. Now, add some lacklustre wheels and some cheap-looking accessories and flimsy door handles, and suddenly you go from a circle to a Miata.
It'd be an understatement for me to say that I dislike the styling of Miatas. They're the worst looking car ever made, in my opinion, and nothing will ever change that. The proportions are wrong, and the lack of solid design lines almost seems to flaunt the idea that the designers had to save costs somehow, and they certainly weren't going to save costs on the shifter design R&D. The styling of the Miata is a simple after-thought, overlooked by its designer in favour of - I haven't figured this part out yet, so I'll guess - marijuana or something. I don't blame the designer. Marijuana is a nice thing, or at least, I've heard. What's the status on legalization, Mr. Trudeau? Are we done yet, or not?
Anyways - it's not the sort of Fiat Multipla ugly, the kind that creates nightmares, but it just seems to represent all of the things wrong with giving a 60 year old a pen and telling him to draw a car before he retires. It works, and it does its job, but it lacks a youthful vitality. There is nothing to distinguish this Miata as a Miata, except that everyone now sees all blandly styled roadsters "Miatas" even if they aren't. Sorry, first generation Porsche Boxster. Be damned Triumph TR7. What even is an Alfa Romeo Spider? Ask any stereotypical blonde woman and you'll get the answer "that's a Miata! My dad wanted to buy me one of them, but I wanted the VW Beetle more."
I'm glad that the NC and ND Miata styling is at least showing some level of effort - it's only more than 25 years late. And yet, many people still dislike the styling of ND Miatas. I've spoken with many people who - like me - really don't like Miata styling. Don't bother trying to show me your friend's uncle's cousin's friend's brother's Miata. I don't like it, either. I don't care how big the splitter is, nor which wheels are on it.
That brings us to the next problem with Miatas:
Part 2: The Owners
I'm not going to lie. I read the original "Miata Is Always the Answer" article in the magazine growing up. I did. It came out in 2006. At the time, I was struggling with trying to afford an invite to race go-karts in the national championships in Florida. I didn't even have a passport, and I - at the age of 12 - was attempting to finance this go-kart racing with paper deliveries. No amount of sponsorship except 100% expenses covered could help me. My family was struggling to make bill payments. I tried to get into karting, so very hard, but I was always reading about ways to drive better, drive faster, and so on. This article trying to convince everyone to buy Miatas for racing didn't convince me. I was trying to buy a Birel at the time. So, I read the article with a grain of salt, refusing to give in to the fine words about how the Miata is the greatest car for autocross and Spec Miata racing. Right. Gotcha. You have to make an entire racing series out of the one car for that car to be competitive? You mean, the Miata can't win against other cars, and can only race against itself? Damn.
Then the commercials started: "Zoom-zoom-zoom" the Mazda commercials said. "There's a saying in motorsports. To end up with the best race car, you start with the best road car. That's why more Mazdas are road raced than any other car." Is that why Mazda had to fund like 80 racing series and pay people to drive Miatas? Damn. I guess the marketing team had a huge budget to try to pull the wool over the eyes of the consumers. It worked.
That's when the Miata myth took off. The Miata prices started to soar. Everyone had to have one. They read that article (lowkey probably sponsored by Mazda) and saw the commercials, and they had to rush out to the stores and buy their own Miata.
Now, these people who were fooled by one of the most clever marketing ploys of all time shout "MIATA IS ALWAYS THE ANSWER!" any time a Miata overtakes any other car on track, or when they see an MR2, or whenever I tell them I don't like Miatas. Then they bury their heads in the sand, plug their ears with their fingers and shout "lalalalalalala, I'm not listening! Miata is always the answer!" in some pre-Trump version of shouting "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN" nowadays. But, we won't go into politics... This is a business, and I don't want to turn readers away for a silly reason.
Part #3: Gran Turismo
Bug off, Polyphony Digital. We don't want to drive around Tsukuba Circuit for 6 hours in a Mazda Miata. Enough with that. Why couldn't you put a full-length DTM race in its place? I would have loved that! But, no, you wanted to stick us in a bland car with ~118 bhp for 6 hours of endurance racing. The "artificial intelligence" was slow in that race and I hated the car. I hated that race. But, alas, I wanted to progress in the game. I had to drive the Miata. I genuinely believe that Mazda paid Polyphony Digital to put that endurance race in the Gran Turismo games so that they could argue "more Mazdas are road-raced than any other car." Congrats, you played yourself - now I hate Miatas. ARE YOU HAPPY?
Part #4: The Reputation
"Oh, you drive a Miata? That means you are one of the following things:
Part #5: The Driving Experience
I'm blessed to have driven an MR2 and a Miata. Both cars were stock. That 1986 MR2 AW11, though, sticks with me. What a fantastic little car to drive. The Miata? I'm sorry to burst your Mazda-designed blob-shaped bubble, Miata owners, but Miatas understeer from factory. I didn't like it. I wanted to get out and get back in the MR2 again. I'd rather have an MR2. Stop asking me why I don't like Miatas. The reasons are above. If you disagree, and you think I should buy a Miata, maybe you should apply to work for Mazda on the Miatas and actually fix the problems with the car, and then I will naturally choose to buy one.
But, for now, if I ever end up getting a roadster, I'm getting the Toyota MR2 or the Porsche Boxster.
This article wasn't written by Riley Mercer. This article was written by Drew Geier - the person with more loathing power than any other Miata hater.
Riley Mercer is a Canadian funny man with an interest in cars. He drives tow trucks for a living, attends colleges and universities, and hopes to build a Nissan 240SX with an AWD powertrain as an all-around hobby build, doing everything from drag racing to time attack.