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Auto blogThu, 24 Jul 2014 12:31:00 EST
Oh, the heady days of 1993, back when the Clinton Presidency was just getting underway, and it seemed like every hot new rock band was coming out of Seattle. Sports cars in the US had finally shaken off the shackles that slowed them during the '70s and '80s, and you could buy any number of legitimately quick vehicles again. MotorWeek recently went digging into its archives to find this six-model test from 1993 showing off some of the best semi-affordable performance coupes that money could buy at the time, and it's priceless.
Featuring the 1994 model year Toyota Supra in twin-turbo guise and MY 1993 versions of the Porsche 968, Nissan 300ZX TT, Mazda RX-7, Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo and Chevrolet Corvette LT-1, MotorWeek definitely covered all of the bases. One thing that might surprise younger readers is these cars' performance. The video only provides 0-60 acceleration times, but several of these vehicles would still be considered pretty potent today - over 20 years since going on sale. The Supra is especially impressive, hitting 60 miles per hour in just 5 seconds. Even today, that's nothing to sneeze at.
Given their performance potential and still-attractive looks, it's amazing that some of these coupes are old enough to drink now. The progress of interior design and safety equipment in the intervening years is pretty shocking, though. In most of these models, having two airbags is touted as a big deal. Scroll down to watch a Throwback Thursday blast from the past about some of the '90s best sports cars.
Second Fiddle Moves To First Chair
In the interest of full disclosure and a bit of bloodletting, allow me to admit that while I've always coveted the Porsche Boxster and its hard-hatted Cayman cousin, I've never really warmed to them visually. They've always had a certain push-me, pull-you, can't-decide-which-way-they're-going aesthetic that I've never really wrapped my head around. Porsche achieved the same thing with the original 550 Spyder's overturned bathtub bodyshell that would come to inspire the Boxster, but somehow that classic's even more symmetrical nature works for me. Fast-forward to this third generation, and at least for this enthusiast, Porsche's manchild has well and truly come of age as a design.
It's all there - a piercing stare thanks to squircle headlamps inspired by the 918 Spyder hypercar, newfound directional thrust afforded by a longer wheelbase and elongated greenhouse, and muscular rear haunches with a wider stance emphasized by larger side ductwork and snubbed overhangs. The body's teardrop shape terminates with an active spoiler that integrates into a gorgeous arc with the taillamps like a budding ducktail nod to 1973 911 Carrera RS. Despite casting a longer shadow than its predecessor, the 2014 Cayman still looks tidily proportioned, smooth and wieldy, the perfect skipping stone to ricochet down a canyon river road.
Different countries have different safety standards, but most of them revolve around a similar set of tests: front impact, side impact, offset impact, rollover... the usual. But Sweden has its own test. It's called the Moose Test (or the Elk Test), and it's unique to Scandinavia: a car has to be able to avoid a theoretical antlered mammal on the road while traveling at 43.5 miles per hour and return to its previous course without flipping over. The Jeep Grand Cherokee ran afoul of the uniquely Nordic maneuver a couple of years ago, but even more surprising is the way the Porsche Macan has reacted.
Under testing by Sweden's Teknikens Värld, Porsche's downsized crossover - specifically the Macan S Diesel, for what it's worth - didn't flip over, but it skidded off course. In real-world conditions, it follows, the vehicle could run off the road or into oncoming traffic. The testers ran the test several times, and even removed excess weight from the vehicle, and each time it reacted the same way.
In response, Porsche has explained that the behavior is the result of its Active Rollover Protection system kicking in. When the system detects that the vehicle could drastically oversteer, flip over or lose its tire, it momentarily applies the brake on the front outside wheel, allowing the vehicle to shed the cornering forces without losing it completely.