When the Pontiac Solstice first arrived on the scene, the buff books said it was nice but that the new generation Mazda Miata was still the better two-seat, rear-wheel drive ragtop. The Miata has, in fact, proven it's the best low-priced roadster in the U.S. by racking up significant and steady sales for Mazda since it debuted in 1989. Of course, 2006 is the first full year in which the Miata actually has to contend with some competition. Both the Pontiac Solstice, and later the Saturn Sky, were unveiled to extremely high consumer demand, and we've learned that apparently consumers don't care all that much about which car has less body roll, is faster in the slalom or can grip the road with more confidence. The excitement of a reasonably priced rear-wheel drive convertible from our very own General Motors was enough, in fact, to propel the Solstice to 18,362 unit sales by the end of November. The Miata sold 15,873 units through November.
Next year will be even more interesting as each ragtop arrives ready to fight. Production will be up to speed on the 260-hp Pontiac Solstice GXP, and the Miata will be available with a retractable hardtop that doesn't devour trunk space. This will be an extremely fun rivalry to watch over the years.