As a longtime owner of a first-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, I have been very excited about the upcoming 2016 model. The new 2016 MX-5 is often referred to by its production code "ND" in the automotive community as opposed to the previous generation 2006-2015 model's production code of "NC".
The design of the new generation MX-5 has been impressing drivers since it was officially introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show late last year. With a bold, new look compared to the previous NC model, the ND MX-5 hearkens back to the low slung, lightweight design of the first-generation car which many drivers still hold dear in their hearts and minds. To increase agility and handling, the new ND is reportedly around 150 pounds lighter (North American versions with similar option packages) than its predecessor, which should make for a large improvement in performance. However, weight specs alone can't predict how much of an improvement this translates to in real world competitive driving.
When our friends at Grassroots Motorsports Magazine approached us with an offer to team up for testing of the new ND MX-5 on our own track, we jumped at the opportunity. GRM supplied a new 2016 MX-5 in Grand Touring trim set to competition alignment specs, while we supplied the rest for testing purposes. Thanks to early access to the car granted by GRM, our engineering team was able to measure for wheel fitments and we were able to install a set of 17x7 ET38 TRMotorsports FF10 wheels (weighing in at 14.5 lbs per wheel) riding on 225/45R17 BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S tires for the test.
Our test track is set up to allow our drivers to subjectively measure the balance and transition of a car driven at its limit and record precise time laps consistently and accurately to provide detailed data. It is the same test track that we use for our own in-house tire testing program. We are also fortunate enough to have our own top SCCA driver employed with us who owns the fastest autocross-prepped national level NC MX-5 in the country. This allowed for a great testing baseline to compare with the new ND - back-to-back with the same tire size, brand and model.
The results? Our SCCA veteran driver put it like this, "The ND GT package with stock dampers, open diff and no Street Class weight optimization (muffler removed, low fuel/fluids, etc.) outperformed my fully race-prepped NC." Despite custom valved, double adjustable shocks and spring perches, custom exhaust, larger rear anti-roll bar and other modifications tuned for SCCA Solo C- Street Class, the stock ND was quicker, had a higher lateral G number and was easier to drive at the limit.
The full details of the test, as well as details on the 1000 mile drive back to Florida on back roads and the Tail of the Dragon can be found in the upcoming October issue of Grassroots Motorsports Magazine.