I wanted one sooo badly when I was 18. American car, tons of support for them, but they had a problem with over heating and catching on fire.
Ive been in one or two. Dont think they could hang with the Elise.
I actually had an '84. The fire problem had nothing to do with overheating, per se.
There was a recall for them because of this fire hazard. The way the dealer who did my recall explained it to me, was along the lines of a bunch of people who know nothing about cars bought these things, then neglected maintenance, never checked the oil. In his quaint way he suggested it was because the motor was in the back, and people simply forgot about it being back there. Oil would run low, engine would blow, throwing rods through the block. What oil was left would spew forth onto the exhaust manifold and voila, melting plastic car. That's what he actually told me.
The recall was...true story...they simply put an extra quart of oil in the car and put in a new dipstick marked to reflect the new oil level.
When I went to pick my car up after the recall, the service manager told me that very day they had done the recall on another car, was test driving it afterwards, and the thing caught fire. Burned to the ground on the side of the road.
Good thing about the recall though, was that Pontiac fixed virtually anything else in the engine compartment at the same time, for free. I had an oil leak, and a couple of other problems they took care of, at the time had about 100K on the car.
Anyway, I got 150K miles out of mine, drove it all over the place for work. When it was time to sell, I advertised in local paper. Guy called and wanted to come look. The guy shows up, his face was pretty badly burn scarred, his arms were covered in nylon material that burn victims often wear. Anticipating my reaction (I was hoping it wasn't obvious), he told me he had been in a car fire, and was now looking for a car. I asked him if he knew about the Fiero's rep re burning up, and he said yup.
Ok, he bought it at my asking price.
Two weeks later, the car caught fire and burned down to the wheels.
Oh, and no. Under no circumstances would a Fiero keep up with an Elise/Exige. I don't care what motor you put in it.