The Toyota GR86 and Mazda MX-5 are proof you don’t need crazy horsepower to have fun. The rear-wheel-drive coupes are thoroughly enjoyable without having to break the bank. Enthusiasts frequently cross-shop the two sports cars, which is something we can’t say about the MINI Cooper SE. Ok, so why is there a front-wheel-drive electric car in this drag race?

Acceleration in a straight line is only a part of the story when it comes to the benefits of owning a performance vehicle. If it’s a top priority, you’ll be pleasantly surprised the British EV is no slouch off the line. Its instant torque gives it a substantial edge over the two sports cars and their naturally aspirated engines. To extract all the power from a NA engine – not that they’re many left anyway – these must be revved a lot. That’s part of the fun, even though the GR86 and the Miata are not exactly fast.

NA Sports Cars Are A Dying Breed

The linear power delivery of a NA is a big plus for these two, among the last back-to-basics sports cars. The MX-5 is the RF version with its retractable hardtop whereas the GR86 is the recently launched second-generation model. As for the Cooper SE, labeled by the folks at The Fast Lane Car as the underdog, it has no fewer than $7,000 worth of options.

The drag race took place at high elevation, which is known to take its toll on naturally aspirated engines. These lose about 3% of power for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain. From the factory, Subaru rates the 2.4-liter engine at 228 horsepower while the Miata packs 181 hp from a smaller 2.0-liter unit. Coincidentally, the MINI Cooper SE’s front-mounted electric motor also makes 181 hp.

The combustion-engined sports cars are not about straight-line acceleration as they’re most enjoyable in corners. With how they handle taken out of the equation, the performance in a drag race is largely based on how the drivers shift gears. Of course, that wasn’t a concern for the person driving the MINI and its single-gear automatic transmission.

Even though the Toyota GR86 had a higher trap speed of 92.1 mph, the MINI was the first to cross the finish line. It completed the quarter-mile in 15.67 seconds, followed by the GR86 at 16.14s and the MX-5 at 16.4s. Had the cars dueled on a twisty road, the Cooper SE definitely wouldn’t have come out on top. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see a car that’s not on an enthusiast’s radar beating the GR86 and Miata in a drag race.

Source: The Fast Lane Car / YouTube