More Grip Than A GT-R - 1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long-Term Road Test

1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long-Term Road Test

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1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata: More Grip Than A GT-R

May 19, 2010


Or a Porsche 911 Cabrio. Or a new BMW M3.

Project Miata's new suspension has given it some serious stick. The kicker? It achieves this on stock-sized tires, which are measly 185/60s on stock 14-inch wheels. Let's hear it for light weight cars, folks.

Hit the jump for the track test results.

When we performed baseline testing on Project Miata, it produced 0.89 g on the skidpad, ran through the slalom cones at 64.3 mph and braked from 60 mph in 129 feet. That was on the bone stock suspension and good summer tires.

Once we installed the Fat Cat Motorsports coilovers and Racing Beat front bar (along with 949Racing end links), we had the alignment checked and corrected as needed. It actually hadn't changed much despite the new, lower ride height of 4.75 inches front and 5 inches rear (as measured at the pinch welds).

Then we were off to the test track to confirm what our posteriors were telling us -- that this is a whole new old Miata.

We didn't bother testing acceleration this time. Just handling and braking. Keep in mind that only the suspension was changed and not the tires -- it's rolling on the same 185/60R14 Dunlop Direzzas as before. As per our usual testing protocol, the fuel tank was full and the spare and jack were in place.

Test Results:
Braking 60 - 0 (ft): 117
Slalom (mph): 71.3
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.95

Braking Notes:
Impossible to be consistent. Very difficult to threshold brake without locking right rear tire. Strange -- perhaps due to off-camber surface & stiff suspension?

Handling Notes:
Skidpad - Very neutral balance going counter-clockwise runs but far less neutral turning clockwise - just solid understeer. Still, an incredible number on stock-width rubber.

Slalom - Very stable here - better than the current model MX-5. Lithe, communicative, predictable and fun. Easy to place and easy to drive. Doesn't even mind mid-corner bumps - rare for a Miata.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 176,112 miles.

  • Full Review
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  • Long-Term

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