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I don´t spend much time on this section of the board since drag racing just isn´t my thing. But I had a good time last weekend against a 1st generation Miata that I can´t resist sharing. It shows some interesting things about acceleration & handling.

My brother and I were watching an autocross here. He had borrowed our mum´s ´90 Miata and hadn´t tried my ´95 Escort GT´s new suspension. When lunch break came, one look at the other guy´s car had us swapping keys in a second. Picking out an impromptu circuit of on- and off-ramps along Ottawa´s Queensway expressway, I took the lead in the Miata. Top down; bright sun; light traffic.

The circuit started with an S-shaped on-ramp. I used the whole road. I´m a confident driver even in an unfamiliar RWD, and though we kept the speeds under 140, I was working that MX5 hard. Rev limiter always came too soon. That´s a fun sounding engine but damn if my brother wasn´t tight on my tail the whole way: The EGT´s 1.8 definitely beats the 1.6l Miata in acceleration, something I had hoped for since the Escort´s weight was one of the reasons I bought it. (They weigh roughly the same.)

Handling was another eye opener. There´s no way to check that out in freeway traffic without weaving like a drunk 16-year-old but we sure put the cars through the wringer on side-road curves and some long ramps. There´s no question the Miata is a better handling car; nothing beats the way you can steer the rear end, especially with the 185s it was wearing. But the difference in straight cornering power wasn´t that noticeable: The slanted purple grill of my Escort was right behind my head the whole way. The only times I couldn´t see it in the rearview was when I had the tail so far out I was looking at him over my shoulder. We finished where a stop light ended a two-lane, decreasing radius off-ramp with me letting go of the throttle in a nice smooth low-speed slide, stopping the car at a 30 degree angle neatly in my lane. My own car pulled up alongside in a firm stop with barely a hint of dive. We were both laughing our heads off.

Afterward, by brother said, well, first, that he nearly wet himself. But more importantly, that he preferred driving the Escort. He couldn´t believe the solid feel of the car, which, he said, feels much safer. As someone who knows the Escort a little better, I would still trade it to put the 1.8l´s power through the rear end of a Miata. But no I longer feel inferior pulling into the driveway for yet another Sunday family dinner.

A 15 minutes well spent.
- Rob
 

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Now you know the joy of Miatadom, Rob. It is a delightful car, and the top-down motoring experience is a tough one to beat. We are on our second Miata, a ´97, since our 1.6L ´92 was crunched by an idiot kid in a FWD Dodge Charger. It is truly a blast, especially with bars, Konis, Supertrapp, CAI, header, etc. All the mods added up to a wonderfully pure driving experience.

As you noticed, the Miata is not as quick as the light weight and gearing might lead you to believe. My GT has always been faster than my wife´s Miata, even before I did all my hot rodding, compared to her car with all the goodies. I do admit that the Miata does have the most nimble handling feel, but the more fun car to drive, to me, is the GT. I, too, have noticed the rather touchy nature of driving the Miata at the limit. If it is set up right, the rear end is pretty driveable, almost to a fault. We have the adjustable rear bar on a softer setting just to make it more wifey-friendly.

There is nothing quite like a cool, sunny afternoon with the top down, and your woman by your side...even if she is doing the driving. It takes me back to my youth in my parent´s various MG´s, Austin Healey´s, etc. Life´s good.

Glad you had fun. Keep up the good work.

Marcus
 
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