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Can a 2016 Mazda Miata Beat a Corvette Z06 On an Autocross Course?

The surprising answer.

As the snow melts, the days grow longer, and the temperatures rise to the point that summer only tires won’t kill you in the first turn, our mind turns to driving fast. One of the best ways to scratch that itch is a local autocross. These are parking-lot races hosted by a sports car club or some other local organization. The Miata is one of the best vehicles ever made for such antics. It’s low center of gravity, affordability, rear-wheel drive, stick shift, and nimbleness make it a great car for an informal occasional autocross, and the Miata is also a great platform from which to build a more serious racer. Having tested the new Miata on-road in the winter, and the old Miata everywhere in all seasons we know it is under-rated by almost everyone who hasn’t actually given it a try. But could a Miata match a 650 hp Corvette Z06 in an autocross?

Being blessed with our jobs in the auto media we get a fair amount of this type of action during media launches and even at public events hosted by automakers. Last year we had the chance to wring out the new BMW 2-Series at such an event, and it was a blast. Doing so makes us realize that many supercars and many expensive performance cars have a problem of sorts. In the real world, they are not that fun because one cannot find enough road to wring them out.

A test by Ezra Dyer (Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, and other publications) and Dan Neil (WSJ and other publications) pitting a 2016 Miata against a Corvette Stingray caught our eye, and we think it deserves highlighting. In the autocross test, the Corvette ran a 41.7 seconds at the hands of Dyer, who knows a thing or two about flinging cars around a course. Neil ran the same course in a Miata. His time? 41.7. You can read the story here and find out why the Corvette didn’t win decisively. We will leave you with this quote from the story describing how the Miata looked on the course compared to the Corvette: “The Miata, by comparison (to the Corvette), looked like a steeplechase horse bounding gracefully across the course.”

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Image courtesy of Mazda.