We live in an interesting world nowadays. The car community is faced with the whole electric car thing and we see a lot of manufactures giving in and creating some actually incredible and capable electric cars.
This whole thing challenges what the definition of a sports car is. As it is, the definition of a sports car is pretty cloudy.
Sports cars and their more affluent brother the super car are getting more and more technology packed into them and some make the case that it dulls the whole experience of a sports car. Fair argument.
So what is a Sports Car anyway?
You can’t really turn to a dictionary and recite the definition anymore. There are so many cars that might fill the definition, some might not and it is really up for debate.
The definition game really gets confusing, especially when you consider how BMW and Mercedes call their big SUV’s and other four door sedans “four door coupes”. How confusing is that? Definitions need to mean something, and it seems like they’re being skewed for marketing’s sake.
Years and years ago, sports cars were defined as two-seater, soft top convertible cars used for competition. Pretty straight forward. No one tried to be something they’re not. Cars that fit the definition but had a hard top were called grand tourers. I think this definition stands today.
There are plenty of cars out there these days that fit the GT car status, and that’s not a bad thing at all. I personally love GT cars. Think Maserati Gran Turismo or Aston Martin Vanquish.
This is why the 911 and the Boxster can co-exist. The 911 is a gran touring car and the Boxster is a sports car. In a broad sense, one can be more usable than the other.
A quick search of the internet will let you find that no one really knows what the definition is. Some call the Mustang a sedan with good reason, others call the 911 a sports car as I just made a point against, it’s confusing.
Before researching, I thought that we all had a good general idea of what a sports car is. But we truthfully don’t. The definition is loose and is used very broadly.
So I’ll give it a shot. Anything with two doors, two seats, soft top convertible and rear wheel drive. More pure than progressive.
That being said I don’t consider the Mustang a sports car. Even though it is pretty close, the car is a GT car.
I’m making this very hard on myself here, but I want to make sure I get you accurate information. I also don’t consider convertible versions of GT car’s to be sports cars. The car has to be more pure than that. For those of you wondering, the Bugatti Chiron is not a sports car either. I’d call it a hyper GT car.
With all that out of the way, what do you think a sports car is? I love to hear all sorts of differing opinions here, so lend me a hand with this vague definition.
The Two Seats and Two Doors Rule:
The more classical definition of a sports car involves the car having two seats and two seats only. Some are stretching this definition and adding in the whole “two plus two” seating thing into what makes a real sports car a sports car.
I do honestly believe that the addition of seats would make the car into more of a grand touring car. I can’t call the Maserati GT a sports car, as it is a Grand Tourer. Just like the Aston Martin Vanquish. I know it’s easy to call it a sports car because of its nature and performance, but it isn’t.
Most insurance companies call anything with two doors a sports car, which is just silly. Not because of how actually intricate I want to call the definitions here, but because most cars with two doors just aren’t sports cars. But your premiums will go through the roof. Should I open my own insurance agency?
Road and Track magazine had a headline that said “Ask 5 people the definition of a sports car, and you’ll get 5 different answers” And I can’t agree more.
The Mazda Miata:
One of the most pure and classic examples of sports cars is the Mazda Miata. This thing has been around forever and everyone knows what they are (for the most part).
The Mazda Miata is the classic sports car, with a soft top roof, rear wheel drive, and the most fun soul of them all.
I went to the Belle Isle GP in Detroit recently, and before the races began there were a number of cars sprinting around the track. Not race cars, but normal cars.
Of the car fleet that was having some fun around the track, there was an SRT Viper ACR leading, followed by a Mercedes AMG GT, Ferrari 488 GTB, Porsche 911 Tubro S and finally a Mazda Miata.
The Miata was obviously lacking behind, but it kept up decently well with the insane cars in front. Besides the point, the car looked happy.
The Miata is a true sports car without a doubt. Even though it doesn’t have a huge V8, it is as pure as it gets.
Mazda’s Miata handles incredibly well, and is one of the best new sports cars on the market today.
The best part is that you get a true classic for just over $24,000 that is insanely light weight and looks great.
It is worth mentioning the bit more sporty Fiat 124 and 124 Abarth, which are essentially the same car underneath but with a bit of Italian sprinkled in. It’s hard to tell what exactly I mean by that, so you’ll have to drive one.
The Abarth 124 Spider sounds amazing for what it is, and the car in any case handles extremely well, and has a pure heart. That’s one thing that a true sports car will be able to convey to you as a driver. It’s heart and soul. Something the Miata and 124 have plenty of.
The Porsche Boxster:
The Porsche Boxster is a classic, just like the Miata. Originally, the Boxster was credited with saving the company as a whole, given how affordable it was for people to jump into and cruise in a top down German sports car.
Things are a bit different as far as the current Boxster goes, but the formula remains the same.
In recent years, management changes over at Porsche forced some changes in on the whole model line up for the manufacture. This included changes to the positioning of the Boxster.
As things used to be, the Porsche Boxster was the entry level Porsche or the cheapest one you could get.
Now, Porsche changed things around so that the Cayman (once priced higher than the base Boxster) now starts at a lower price than the Boxster.
Historically, the move makes sense since the general way of doing things are that the convertible car is more expensive than the coupe or hard top. That’s the way that every manufacture (for the most part) does things, so Porsche was actually a bit behind.
Nonetheless, the Porsche Boxster is one fantastic new sports car.
Also, Porsche calls the Boxster the “718 Boxster“. As with a lot of you I’m sure, I was confused when I first heard this, since I had no idea what 718 meant.
Porsche’s history books are full of the 718 name plate, and the move makes even more sense when you realize that the original 718 race cars had forced induction, which is what the 718 Porsche Boxster has. It is a cool nod to the famous and decorated racing past for Porsche, but I still prefer the flat six.
There are actually very few cars out there that fit the classic definition of a sports car. If you are the more progressive type of thinker, you’ll include cars like the 911 and other models with the two plus two seating.
In today’s world, manufactures love to confuse people. They make these weird SUV’s that they call coupes and four door coupes and you get the picture. Something for everyone.
The issue this creates is the confusion I’ve been touching on. In this world you can get a car for any reason and any purpose. That means you have cars that can do things that three different cars would usually do. It’s all a bit confusing.
If I broaden things out, there are a lot of cars that fit the definition. For example, if I call anything with the standard definition and include the two plus two seating, your options are massive. The 911 would fall in this category.
I like to keep things pure, though. Maybe it’s a mindset. But if you need any indication, let this be it. That classical sports car is fading away and grand tourer cars with soft tops are taking their place. People like space now. People like options.
This is the same reason why, even though I’d love to include it, the Alfa Romeo 4C isn’t included here. The Spider version is technically fit for the job, but it is a version of a coupe. Purity.
What is your definition of a sports car?