Good-Win Racing's FIRST ND DRIVE!

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Good-Win Racing's FIRST ND DRIVE!

Postby Brian » Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:10 pm

ND-day1d.jpg


It feels like a Miata, a BETTER Miata!

That was my first thought today while driving our new ND LE with Mike Garant of Mazda North America doing a live Apple 'Periscope' broadcast from the passenger seat (they tell me they hope to edit it down and post it to the Mazda USA YouTube page). Conditions were not ideal as it started to rain immediately during this first drive, the top was down and they were already broadcasting LIVE, so I just drove faster to keep the increasing rain out of our hair. :D

Yet even in the rain the Miata DNA is what came through to me first, the feel of the switchgear and the location of every control is all very 'Miata', where you expect it, how you expect it, no surprises on these points, which is perhaps the most important conclusion. In other words, if you have owned any Miata, I promise you will easily FEEL the Miata DNA under the new ND skin and you will feel immediately at home in how the car responds.

Conditions in the cabin are impressively calm with the top down, we only did speeds of 60mph on the country road we ended up on but that was enough to teach me that noise and wind is better controlled in the top down environment than with any prior generation.

The transmission is BETTER THAN EVER. I had read about various plastic bits being removed from the design and the effect this had, etc., but driving is believing and this is easily the best Miata transmission ever. Why? You can find each cog choice with even more confidence because the selection of each cog is even more direct, more obvious. I know this point will be hard to imagine but you will find it to be true when you drive it.

On that question of power, clearly stronger than stock NC in the low to mid range rpms, a result of the better torque/pound ratio in that range. Once into the upper rpms it feels like a stock NC in terms of power but from 3k to 5k it feels noticeably stronger with the result that spirited off the line starts as well as passing moves done without a downshift will crush prior generations.

Coming from lots of NC driving of late I noticed the shorter wheel base dynamics immediately, feels more like a NA/NB in size and wheelbase.....but the body is tighter and the stronger torque is obvious. The steering is a bit light on center as many reporters have noted but not vague and it loads up quick as you turn in. With just minutes in the car the steering feedback was telling me what I wanted to know about the tires and the surface conditions in the turns...IN THE RAIN. Overall the shorter wheelbase responsiveness as compared with NC coupled with even better switchgear and tighter chassis and better torque off the line had me thinking that this baby is going to own autocross events...and we will do our first next weekend!

The view down the hood while driving is AWESOME. This is something that was not obvious to me ahead of time, even from sitting in the car at other events before this first drive. I compared it to looking down a gun sight, you have the fenders rising up on each side and a great view between those fenders down the VERY LOW hood. The effect is very confidence inspiring and quite the opposite of several other sports cars I could name where it seems the hood stretches forever in front of you with the drop off and final location of the nose left uncertain.

Live questions from the Periscope viewers included lots of concern for the view over the Nav display and whether it is 'in my way.' I am 6'2 and easily see over the top of the monitor with at least 3 more inches of dash visible over the top of the display. I then slid myself way down in the seat to pretend I was much shorter, more like 5'7 or less.. and no matter how far down I slid there was still something above the display, like the wipers at the base of the windshield. Thus, I have a hard time imagining that the Nav screen as 'in the way' for anyone able to see over the steering wheel.

As for handling, since it was raining I did not push the car in this first drive, Mike Garant was having hard enough time holding the camera phone still and several viewers asked him to try and hold it better. We did notice the dash indications light up a few times when the driving dynamics detected too much slip and jumped in to make adjustments. Once Mike was out of the car, and I started home after raising the top the rain became downright torrential...yet I shut off the driving nannies once on the lonely side roads again because the car had already given me enough confidence in the feel to know it would be easy without the aids. :shock: Result? Very easy, very neutral. Even in this LE without limited slip I was working hard out of corners to get the back end to come out and every time I forced it to jump out it would come back into line quickly and with little drama, just constant throttle and the slightest opposite steering wheel flick. Meanwhile it was raining so hard that tow trucks were pulling folks off embankments all along the drive home.

Exhaust note. You hear it more with top up. With top down it gets lost in the wind and other sounds easily. With the top up it is still very quiet but you can hear it, tone is good but volume won't be enough for many enthusiasts.

Rain is finally giving up here so I am heading out for some more driving. Work, work, work, it never let's up. ;)

ND-day1b.jpg


And we are back from the first DRY road driving, took the pics you see here. Took the wife this time. The new seat 'net' design gives a feeling of being more 'hammocked' in place as the speeds increase on dry pavement corners, never has a Miata leather interior made me feel more solidly held in the seat. Took some quick videos that we will upload to Youtube. I drove up the coast and the wife drove it back, which was her first ND drive (got a video of that to share too). In the dry in the turns the contrast with the NC becomes more clear. The super soft NC suspension can be driven by me at about 6/10ths and it is fun, and beyond that it quickly becomes a sloppy mess in stock form as you slam into and bounce off the bumpstops. Ultimately you can slam and bounce off the stops in the ND too, but it happens at a higher speed, I get a bit over 8/10ths before things start to get ugly. And when things start to get ugly they never get as ugly as they do with a stock NC driven past the limits of the stock setup, in particular the rear does not toe out on ND as it does on NC under high loads and the result is that the drift and tire squeal past the limit is lower in drama even as it is significantly higher in speed. The tail gets out a foot or so under constant throttle and intentional overdriving but then the tail just sits out there and will calmly walk back inline if you just stay in the throttle, very confidence inspiring even if when you intentionally abuse the stock suspension limits.

More impressions to come but that completes the first 100 miles in our ND....in just the first day!
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Re: Good-Win Racing's FIRST ND DRIVE!

Postby Curves » Mon Jul 20, 2015 8:25 am

Great review Brian!

First AX event on the ND will be SCCA July 25th,26th or BMW Aug 2nd?
What SCCA class would that be entered in for now?
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Re: Good-Win Racing's FIRST ND DRIVE!

Postby Brian » Mon Jul 20, 2015 10:18 am

Will take it to both events.

For SCCA will run XP simply because I have a full season to finish in that class in terms of points...and nobody is going to protest a stock Miata in XP.
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Re: Good-Win Racing's FIRST ND DRIVE!

Postby Brian » Wed Jul 22, 2015 10:13 am

Day TWO began with me spending hours measuring and fitting various things, learned a lot that I won't bore you with. Torque on wheel lugs was down to about 60 on all of them, and I watched the dealer tech snug them properly yesterday. Normal with new wheels and new lugs that a serious first heat cycle will result in the needed application of a torque wrench to snug them back up and though I likely put much more heat in them yesterday than the average buyer it is a good reminder for other new buyers out there to check lug torque after the first 100 miles.

After a morning of measurements and test fitments and checking many things.... I washed the car. Tropical storm yesterday left it a mess and I have always found that I don't really understand what a car LOOKS like until my hands trace every curve with a washing mitt. There is something about the hand washing process that gives your mind details through touch that you 'see' only after you run your hands over every inch of it. It gave me more appreciation for various sculpted details from the twisting line of the wheel spokes to the shapes around the front and rear driving lights, to the way the surface plunges off the front fenders down into the hood. Lots of interest in the surface details and I recommend hand washing to all the other new ND owners out there. Anyway, if you wash the car be sure to open the trunk after ....because you will find the good size pool of water where the hinges of each side fit into relatively deep troughs that collect the water.
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Re: Good-Win Racing's FIRST ND DRIVE!

Postby Brian » Wed Jul 22, 2015 10:13 am

Three Days And Three HUNDRED Miles on our ND!

The new ND covers ground more swiftly and more efficiently than any prior Miata period! If you have wide open lonely highways it has never been this easy to cruise up to 100mph in a Miata and cover distance. And if you don't drive as aggressive as I do it appears many will go well north of 300 miles per tank easily. Car feels good at speed, soaks up freeway expansion joints with no issues, it is stable and does not wander, and that top 6th gear kills the miles smoothly....leaving me even more impressed with the car overall.
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Re: Good-Win Racing's FIRST ND DRIVE!

Postby MarkS942 » Wed Jul 22, 2015 1:29 pm

Great review. Just the type of info I have been waiting on. It will be a few years before I would have the chance to own one but the new steering was the thing that I was most interested in finding out about.
Thanks Brian.
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Re: Good-Win Racing's FIRST ND DRIVE!

Postby Brian » Sat Jul 25, 2015 7:29 pm

Had a customer show up late yesterday and when that left one lift open for a few hours we put the ND on it and Rocky added the limited slip while we had the opportunity. This is the factory LSD and we got the complete pumpkin with LSD already installed from MAZDA because that was the only choice in the USA this week, they don't yet have the limited slip internals. NOTE that unlike the NA/NB/NC you are dropping entire rear subframe to add the limited slip. Not a big deal but it adds Labor, expect standard estimate 8 hours of labor for the swap of the pumpkin (and trans shop will be charging you more to do the work inside the factory case if you buy just the internals). Frankly, if getting the stock limited slip, the price differential between buying the complete pumpkin and just the internals is close enough that likely your best price is going to be getting the complete unit.
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Re: Good-Win Racing's FIRST ND DRIVE!

Postby Brian » Sat Jul 25, 2015 9:32 pm

First ND Autocross Today! Indeed today was an SCCA practice day, the actual competition day is tomorrow.

Had a blast. First autocross impression is that the LE feels VERY SOFT...too soft for me to use full throttle for about half the course. Nonetheless, equally obvious was the FAST potential once setup. Body roll reminded me of autocrossing a stock NC yet more nimble with the shorter wheelbase and better chassis and mid rpm torque. Understeer at the limit can be twitched into light oversteer with a stab of throttle and once the tail is out it rotates nicely (though it then scrubs off too much speed in current setup). At the end of the day I was thinking seriously of tossing in some stiffer springs for today to better show the potential speed of the car for today's event....but will wait on the suspension upgrades until we have some more time.

The only 'mod' on the car was the limited slip we added Friday and without that addition I expect we would have been at least 2 seconds slower. With the limited slip we were competitive with some of our STR friends running their old tires...and my third run was fastest Miata run of the dozen Miatas in the group for a few cycles. If you think about it, that's an amazing result for a car off the dealer's lot with no alignment, no tire upgrade to any of the competitive sticky tires, no upgrades to shocks or sway like you would typically find in even the lowest mod level Street class. From the experience today I expect typical "Street" class with the right tires, alignment, upgraded stops, Koni Sport shocks (all the class allowed mods, etc) would easily drop another 2 to 3 seconds off our time, and a full STR setup on coilovers and fresh STR class tires 4+ seconds off our best today....which would have put us in contention with the STR guys on good tires (49 seconds to our 53). Took a few Miata friends for rides and they were shocked how quick the car was stock in stock condition. From the experience today I expect the CLUB version intended for autocrossers to prove a fast fun machine in autocross next season once the car is prepared to limit of the class, etc.

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Re: Good-Win Racing's FIRST ND DRIVE!

Postby Bill M. » Thu Aug 20, 2015 9:31 am

Me too! Enjoying the hell out of my first Miata, having fallen in love back in 89. I won't be maxing out the suspension like I did on my 911, but it would be nice to firm up the front body roll. I'm looking at your strut tower bracket. Can you show pictures of it installed along with the strut tower brace.

I'm loving following your post on the ND and the tons of info on setup for the cars. Thanks much.
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Re: Good-Win Racing's FIRST ND DRIVE!

Postby Brian » Mon Sep 14, 2015 6:08 pm

Hi Bill

Glad you like it. Your post got lost in the que for a while, sorry about that.
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