SPD Writes Car Of The Week: Week 43 - Mazda MX-5 (ND)
Huh? That soon? Oh wait, is the RX-7 coming next week? DON'T ANSWER.
Umm, another Mazda already? And not a rotary, but the triply generational sequel to last week's open top escapades? Thanks to last week, I think I've exhausted quite a bit on Miata information with the history of the NA. Being a new car doesn't do much when all it does is bring that old age Miata essence to the new kids.
So, to begin, we head back to the NC, which even though it's quite the success like just about any generation that came before it, had one tiny problem. Or rather: the fact that it was the fattest and most weighty of the lot. And Mazda's way of fixing that is to put lightness and compact performance on the focus the next time they go back to the drawing board. And thus, in 2015, we get the ND.
Powered by a 155 horsepower 2 liter SkyActiv 4 cylinder modified from a Demio, the ND notably is actually lighter than the NA2, and also smaller. Unlike the NA, I've never been in one to say if it's any more tight. But if there's something it isn't tight on, it's popularity. The ND came out to much fanfare, in many thanks to it being quite accessible, affordable, got that ease of maintaining, and of course: credentials in autosport. The car's currently got a league of its own in racing, and I forgot to mention its customizable nature. This car would be a base for things like drift builds, engine swaps, modified specials and an overall standard of the everyday open top roadster, and this all means the ND's just the perfect kind of car for just about anything that isn't handling a family.
And while the past generations speak out for the MX-5's general compact look, the ND stands out with Mazda's current aggressive styling that's on most of its cars today. And if we head inside, we see pretty much a primitive look back at the NA era, with nothing but a center screen for any kind of tool you can see on today's cars. Maybe it's different on the Abarth 124: a car that was essentially the ND with an outside shell of Italian drip. Game wise, this is a car that's everywhere when a game's got licensed cars. As early as Forza Horizon 2's DLC, but I'm sure there's an earlier occurance of this car.
The ND ranks itself in the early B-class of 620. As mentioned in week 35 with the RX-8, I feel this is unnaturally high up, and I do recall that Rambo Lambo is significantly behind.. Umm.. I'm not going to compete these two. Rambo Lambo has Der Trüffeljäger von Zuffenhausen to deal with first. How are they competing, well, I did sort of put this on stone with how I was supposed to end on week 39.
Autoshow puts this Mazda at 35,000 credits. I was already hesitant due to last week, but okay, it's 13,000 for both most common and least cost in the Auction House. I say go for that player thriving marketplace if you're needing a spare. Strangely I have a pair.
While I already had Test in mind, I guess it's inevitable we return to the Horizon Mexico Circuit to bring out the best of the latest and greatest of one iconic Mazda bloodline.
Oh possum spit. It seems that this week's Trial is on this track. Not an issue like with the week for the Durango because this circuit is way more recognizable.
Yes, it's another Miata, get over it, you big baby.. don't take it personally. I am talking to a car.
"A circuit that is well-balanced for rookies and veterans alike, the Horizon Mexico Circuit is the ideal place to hone your racing skills and thrill the crowds."
I've already taken this track once, and I don't think there's a need to mention what it offers again. It's a balance of handling and speed. You can say it's all because of it mixing hairpins, straights and speedy corners. The perfect place to test out any road build. And to reiterate: like with the Supervan 3, I have a time on this track already set, so the screenshot's going to look a little different on that part.
Everyone's always said that Miata is the answer. Being a former owner of the NA means that I have this statement in heart already. This is yet another car I wouldn't mind finding in my real life garage.
- My first note inside
, other than my familiarity with it, is how thick that windshield frame is. It blocks out the surroundings quite well. Then again, I'm glad we get this kind of view with this car, considering the roof stays on its brethren COTW alumnis in the NA2 and the NC.
- You can't muck up the launch unless you're not putting your foot down all the way. So just put it down, no tricks or special tools required. While this thing can go up to 7500 RPMs, I shift it by 7000, notably on later gears.
- First thing to touch here is the brakes. Just like.. maybe both the NA2 and the NC, the ND's brakes are biased to the rear, and will punish anyone braking and turning with a miniscule drift. This is a bad drift, since you lose control.
- Looking at the gears, I feel this car's gears are a bit long. Not overly long: a bit. Still quite nice to see manuals still getting praise, though if you find yourself at the 3-5 thousand RPM range, you're going to wish it had more oomph. At least the car's at the bottom of B so you can think about that when you're bringing up the oomph.
- With long turns you're faced with a compromise. Drastically shift down, but risk losing control of the car's rear, or keep your gear and control, but exit turns at a snail's pace. Often I find myself doing the latter, and that's going to cost me some time.
- And don't worry about traction. This is a car with plenty of it thanks to having low levels of power. There's grip everywhere, and I can't fault that.
- It's also agile, so much you can push it to the redline just after the last hairpin going underneath an overpass. Only time you get to control the traction is when you find the rear wheels spinning.
- However, even though this car has a 50:50 balance, it's more unwieldy to handle compared to the NC, though the NA2 is a rear slippery beast on its own for a D class car. I wonder how the NB would rank itself when it comes to stability.
- Since I don't have much to say about the track, I'll just go straight into the final bit of advice: find your flow, and don't go to the extremes. The former shows when you can go into certain turns at full speed.. the final corner comes to mind. That latter advice I think I mentioned with the NC, but I'm sure I'm wrong if I look.
So, I always enjoy my time around Horizon Mexico circuit, and my off and on times on Horizon shows how rusty I am. While the ND is a stellar car for general hotlapping, as in real life, I strangely didn't find that magic in Horizon. Maybe it's the physics or the fact it's a game world. I dunno, I can't explain.
Something to at least explain is the best lap of 1:17.775
Aiming for a 1:18, I'd say I accomplished something. Not a bad car, and I guess you can see I've been driving inside. Or is it me just changing the camera to the inside to show that I can flex by driving this way.. Yes and no is the answer. I did change the camera, but I can also confidently drive in the cockpit at a small difference in pace. Maybe a game with more extreme visual motion can challenge me.
Let's bring up the hot in the ND's ability to hotlap.
I already said it, but the presence of the Festival site doubling as the one stop shop for anything Horizon car related, it means I can give the ND another thing to do: give it a Test to plow through.
New to this Test idea? I got you. It's just bringing this week's nominee up to the top of A-class road, without any engine swap or drivetrain conversions. This does mean that any car above A is already not allowed. This purist build does mean I'm not pushing it to unreal levels as it would try to be within the region of a.. semi decent time of 1:07. It's so that it doesn't need a crutch called an engine swap to be viable. Aspiration? Well, if it's needed, sure I'll put it on.
The last time I did this, rally compounds stole the show and put on quite a display. Due to its lack of weight, the ND needs the sports tires as rally tires will boost its PI. And after a quick setup made, we have a car with numbers looking like 318 horses with a 1,942 lb body. And still naturally aspirated. I hope this is the right viable choice.
As a little thing to add, let's compete with the RX-8 R3, which a fully upped A class model got a time of 1:07.411
. I actually have 3 Mazdas on the top of A class now, the one not seen being my self designated Rotary Queen in the form of a yellow RX-7 Spirit. I feel that's a car with a strong influence on my Media shots. But now's not the time for that car... that comes later.
I'd say a boost in power is just as important with a boost to weight reduction. But does it all pay off?
This up specced ND provides dividends with a best of 1:06.924
. Gives me more reason to not enjoy the RX-8, I guess..
To me, beating 1:07 means we get a very solid car. What it sacrificed in traction control and stability comes to reward me in how well it pushes ahead in the straights. The amazing grip and handling still remains. The issues with the brakes just.. vanished too. It's not the Corrado or the Megane R26.R, but I don't mind bringing this car out every now and then.
What is the Mazda MX-5 (ND)? It is..
Anger management handled well by taking your top off.
At least when I look at it, I'm going to say I'm biased and put Sleeper
, but I can't say if it's any more than that of the NA and the NC. The main reason is how well it outshined the RX-8 we got a month back. I was so taken away by how far ahead is it compared to Rambo Lam-I mean the NC. Goes to show how good engineering can really up the car's general outlook.
Yes, if we're going to make a pattern, that Sleeper badge is going to the Mazdaspeed NB by default, but I'll have to convince myself of that first hand.
While we're still at the Horizon Circuit, today's post COTW entertainment: for the title of best nickname is Rambo Lambo versus Der Trüffeljäger von Zuffenhausen! Place your bets! Place your bets!