2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Cup Racer and Miata RF: A Tale of Two Roadsters

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It was the raciest of Miatas, it was probably the most comfy of Miatas. This previous summer time gave Vehicle’s Detroit Bureau an opportunity to drive two of the newest variants of the ND Mazda MX-5 Miata—the Cup spec racer and the RF, with its energy retractable targa-style high. They’re probably the most disparate variations of the sports activities automotive – one is constructed for the observe, whereas the opposite is probably the most luxurious model. Neither automotive threatens the Miata’s standing as one in every of our all-time favourite automobiles. In all its varieties, the MX-5 might be probably the most pure expression of a contemporary sports activities automotive you should buy right this moment.

With that, full disclosure is critical. Between my spouse and I, we’ve owned three Miatas; at the moment now we have a 2008 mannequin with the power-retractable hardtop, Sport package deal and six-speed guide.

The Raciest

Former Street Take a look at editor Eric Weiner and I every acquired a number of laps within the Miata Cup automotive on the tight, second- and third-gear M1 Concours in Pontiac, Michigan.

“I’m completely satisfied my first time driving a completely prepped and kitted-out racecar was with the MX-5 Cup,” Weiner stated. “Though I wasn’t within the excellent place as a result of the seat is bolted down, and I wanted to be a bit nearer to the pedals (short-guy points), it was total a really approachable cabin given how critical it’s. Love the middle digital gauge readout, in addition to the inexperienced and crimson shift indicator lights. The netting, the roll bar, the bare cabin – that is most likely the good Miata I’ll ever drive.”

I discovered the Cup racer remarkably just like the roadgoing Miata. Even crawling in via the rollcage was comparatively stress-free, and there’s one thing liberating about sticking your helmeted head underneath the roll cage of an open race automotive.

“The MX-5 Cup was proper at dwelling,” on the M1 Concours, Weiner says. “It’s satisfying to hold excessive velocity via the twistier sections the place different automobiles might need to brake. As soon as the tires get some warmth in them, there’s not one of the tail-happy character of the road automotive – simply large grip and the identical fantastically responsive steering.”

The Miata Cup automotive comes with greater than 250 motorsport-specific components, together with its springs and adjustable dampers. Earlier this yr, Mazda added a Cup-specific gearbox to handle complaints in regards to the manufacturing six-speed’s reliability whereas racing, particular engine brackets, differential bushing inserts, a fuel-pump out package, and updates to the engine management unit software program and . The upgrades raised the value of the Cup automotive by about $5,000.

Though I acquired simply three sizzling laps within the MX-5 Cup, I felt at-home within the race automotive from the warm-up lap, although I’m undecided both of us grew to become so acquainted that we might experiment with the Miata’s means to rotate via tight turns. A bit extra confidence – with the observe, not the automotive – might need had both of us steering with the loud pedal via among the tighter corners. The truth is, I didn’t suppose to show off the traction/stability management, (Eric did), one thing I normally do earlier than I shift a Miata street automotive into first gear.

General, the Cup felt to me just about like most some other road Miata however with way more tire. This comparability contains my very own NC, although not my previous, critically harsh ’94 R-package. The Cup yaws into turns to transmit the very nature of the nook to the motive force via his/her bottom, takes a set, and stiffens as much as get out of the apex effectively. Steering is so natural and fast that you just received’t take into consideration how easy inputs are on the observe.

Weiner additionally praises the Miata’s pedal field, “completely positioned for heel-and-toeing,” although if he had had as a lot time as me on the street variations, he wouldn’t even suppose to say this.

“More often than not you may cruise in third gear, aside from the hairpin and possibly flip 1 onto the large entrance straight (second gear),” Weiner continues. “When you carry sufficient velocity on the principle straight you may stand up to fourth, however you shortly must downshift again to 3rd. General the automotive feels extraordinarily succesful and entertaining, though it weighs about as a lot as the road automotive. Regardless of all of the extraneous stuff you must take out (the motive force’s inside door deal with is lower in half), the rollbar and seats make up for that.”

Weiner’s solely critical criticism is the shortage of energy, a problem we’ve all had because the 116-horsepower 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata.

“It does prefer to rev, however there simply isn’t a ton of oomph. I do know that’s not the purpose, but when there’s a weak a part of the automotive, that’s it.”

It’s gentle criticism that has me questioning whether or not I’d ever develop or enhance on the observe if I might scratch collectively the $58,900 plus supply value, primarily based on location, plus a driver’s seat and spares, to make one in every of these infants my weekend driver. I determine that whether or not you’re younger and simply beginning an newbie racing profession, and may even be fascinated with an expert future, otherwise you’re someplace north of mid-life and wish to lastly expertise some actual competitors, the Mazda MX-5 Cup will enable you develop as a racer, regardless of its consolation and intuitiveness.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Cup Specs

ON SALENow
PRICE$58,900/60800 (base/as examined)
ENGINE2.0L DOHC 16-valve I-Four/155 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 148 lb-ft @ Four,600 rpm
TRANSMISSION6-speed guide
LAYOUT2-door, 1-passenger, front-engine, RWD convertible
EPA MILEAGEN/A
L x W x H154.1 x 68.three x 48.eight in
WHEELBASE90.Zero in
WEIGHTN/A
Zero-60 MPHFour.6 (est)
TOP SPEED125 mph (est)

The Most Snug

The Mazda MX-5 RF Grand Touring would appear to be on the other finish of the present Miata spectrum. When the ND Miata premiered within the 2016 mannequin yr, it was straightforward to see that Mazda wouldn’t have the ability to duplicate the magic of the NC’s energy retractable exhausting high (PRHT). The ND’s entrance cowl has been moved again into the wheelbase to regulate the steadiness and decrease the middle of gravity (with a lowered engine, moved again virtually to a front-midengine configuration). This makes the rear cowl – the house between the seats and the within fringe of the trunklid – too slim to package deal each the horizontal high panel and the highest’s rear window and body.

So once you press the button to decrease the highest – now, conveniently, with no mechanical latch that must be pulled – the flying buttress rear pillars carry up from the physique to permit the horizontal panel of the highest, and the backlight, to decrease into that skinny house, with all of the fussiness of a Porsche 911 Targa. In contrast to the NC PRHT, the ND RF doesn’t turn out to be a full Miata convertible once you decrease the highest.

It does offer you an open-air really feel, whereas the rear high construction manages the wind in your hair a bit. Additionally, with this configuration, you received’t really feel such as you at all times must decrease each home windows together with the highest – I by no means roll up the home windows on a full convertible. Prime up, the RF provides you a PRHT really feel, that means there’s no noise attenuation benefit. You won’t settle for this in a BMW three Collection or Mercedes-Benz C-Class cabrio, however it’s best to count on this in a two-seat sports activities automotive designed to be as light-weight as attainable, irrespective of its configuration. Consider how a lot noisier it might be with side-curtains, your inner-purist ought to reply.

The RF weighs about 113 kilos greater than a equally geared up Miata ragtop, and Mazda has tweaked steering and rear suspension calibrations. However to my bottom, the Miata RF Grand Touring rides and handles just about like a Miata Grand Touring ragtop, which is to say, fairly properly. It’s compliant, but its direct, natural digital energy steering and understeer-averse chassis nearly begs you to energy it via each nook between work and residential. It’s nearly as good because the Grand Touring convertible, so in the event you just like the styling and don’t care that the rear-pillar blind spots don’t go away once you decrease the highest, the RF is a worthy Miata.

My criticism is similar as with the standard ND Miata ragtop, which is that you could’t order a Grand Touring with the Membership mannequin’s Bilstein suspension and limited-slip differential. On my 2008 NC Grand Touring, it was only a $500 choice, and properly price it. On the ND, the Bilsteins and LSD (ah, so many abbreviations) tighten issues up simply sufficient to make the Miata that rather more satisfying on snaky roads.

Oddly, even on the Membership package deal ND Miata, the Bilsteins and the LSD come solely with the six-speed guide. If you need that automotive with the six-speed automated, you don’t get these chassis enhancements, however then frankly, I don’t care.

The ND Miata Membership’s dealing with is so crisp with out disturbing the automotive’s inherent ride-handling steadiness that the Bilstein/LSD combo should be commonplace throughout the board (with the guide, at the very least), and this shouldn’t dissuade even the fashionistas and dilettantes who merely like the best way the automotive appears to be like. Simply since you need heated leather-based seats and a nav system doesn’t imply you don’t need dynamics as near the Cup automotive as attainable. Oh, and whereas I’m at it, Mazda, the ND Miata wants extra vibrant paint colours (suppose BMW M4). Convey again Marina blue.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring Specs

ON SALENow
PRICE$33,495/$33,885 (base/as examined)
ENGINE2.0L DOHC 16-valve I-Four/155 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 148 lb-ft @ Four,600 rpm
TRANSMISSION6-speed guide
LAYOUT2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD convertible
EPA MILEAGE26/33 mpg (metropolis/hwy)
L x W x H154.1 x 68.three x 48.eight in
WHEELBASE90.Zero in
WEIGHT2,445 lb
Zero-60 MPH6.Four sec
TOP SPEED125 mph (est)


















































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