For 16 years, Mazda's MX-5 Miata has been the world's top-selling entry-level two-seat roadster. With more than 700,000 built, the Miata has knocked off British Leyland's venerable MGB, produced from 1962 to 1980, as the most popular roadster ever.
But the Pontiac Solstice is off to a strong start, and is far outpacing the newly redesigned Miata.
In January - the first month of full availability for the Solstice - the sleek Pontiac roadster nearly doubled the Miata in sales, 1,990 to 1,067. It was the same story in December, when the Solstice clobbered the Miata, 2,746 to 1,007.
To be sure, Miata sales in January were 106.8 percent ahead of the same month last year, when the previous model was on its last legs. But the new Miata isn't doing well in one critical area: consumers' willingness to pay more than sticker. Based on completed eBay auction sales, the highest price a 2006 Miata sold for was $21,900, but a Solstice brought $26,100. Including freight, the base Miata MX-5 stickers for $20,995, and the Solstice stickers for $20,490.
Pontiac officials are thrilled and a little surprised by the early results. Said Pontiac spokesman Jim Hopson: "The Miata is an extremely strong competitor, and we thought it was going to be a really good horse race."