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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I wanted to share my thoughts on a recent test drive of a 2016 Miata convertible and how it compares to my own modified 2018 Mazda3 Touring 2.5L sedan with 6-speed manual.

I've been lusting after the Miata ND (2016+) since I sat in one at an auto show in 2016. The car truly looks gorgeous from every angle, one the the best looking cars on the road at any price IMO. After years of reading the accolades, I finally got to drive one...a 2016 Miata Club soft top 6-speed manual (with around 38,000 miles). I booked it on Turo, took the day off work, and drove 1 hour to get to the car. First time ever driving ANY Miata, or convertible for that matter. I was soooo excited!

In short, the Miata overall was a letdown...

Miata seats felt very unsupportive and mushy. I prefer the harder, firmer, much more supportive seats on the 3. The Miata’s exhaust note sounds surprisingly very similar to my 3, which has an aftermarket Racing Beat axleback. After only around 15 minutes driving the Miata, including several hard acceleration runs, I was surprisingly underwhelmed. It just did not feel all that much faster than my 3 (with 2.5L engine, 6sp manual, with a 91 octane tune, dynoed at 173hp at the wheels). The engine sounds kind of strained above 5k rpm. I read Miatas are not known for straight line acceleration, but with 0-60 times in the low sixes and such a small, low, and super light car (700lbs lighter that my 3), I expected it to at least FEEL a lot faster, right? The acceleration really felt noticeably slower than my 3 on the highway. Interestingly, I found the ride quality of the Miata to be very similar to my 3 (which has lowered stiffer Racing Beat springs and Progress rear sway bar)…very firm but not punishing. I then took it out on the twisty roads where I drove it pretty fast and hard. The car definitely felt more at home there, but nothing too spectacular. Feels a little more grippier in corners than the 3, but then my 3 still has the "crappy" OEM Dunlops; interesting to see how “better” tires will feel. The steering feel is pretty light on the Miata but did not feel all that more precise and quicker than my 3. To me the Miata did not feel and handle that much smaller than my 3. I read a lot of people say that driving and cornering in a Miata at 40mph feels like you are doing 60mph in another car. I did not get that feeling at all…40 feels like 40. However, it is nice not having to feel any torque steer when accelerating hard out of tight turn due to the Miata’s rear wheel drive. The most memorable thing about the Miata was the shifter. OMG, the snick-snick feeling and the vibration you can feel through the knob is just sublime. My 3’s shifter feels lifeless and floppy in comparison. The Miata's shifter throws are a little longer than I like, but I’m used to the JBR short shift kit in my manual trans 3. Opening the top definitely enhanced the driving experience, but the novelty of that wore off shortly for me.

In the end, after test driving the Miata for 6 hours, I was not at all sad handing the keys back to the owner. It just did not feel all that special and exciting overall. Likely my expectations were just WAY too high due to the countless praise I’ve read about it. I was reminding myself about that adage of “Never meet your heros.” I may test drive an ND2 (2019+) with its newer higher reving engine, but I am not too optimistic that it would feel that much quicker/different. Too bad, the ND is such a beautiful car and easily affordable for me. Time to lust after another sports car.

Also, my Miata experience makes me appreciate my 3 even more. After 2.5 years of ownership, it still gives my thrills driving it.

The cars I’m eyeing to rent next on Turo is a 2015 Corvette Z51, 2017 Porsche Boxster base, and maybe a 2018 Tesla Model3. I expect those cars should really raise my pulse.:)
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Your 3 is a car (an improved-over-stock car) that you've become habituated with. It is certainly a pretty good car... and when you perhaps drive other cars and compare - the "value quotient" you calculate (with your 3 as the "base-case") ends up like the candidate-car is just not leagues and leagues better... for the up-cost. That's my sense...

Many years ago when I would test drive a bunch of cars - I often concluded likewise. Because what I was driving was always optimized for what it was - that was most-often my conclusion at the time. I also concluded generally that I was a fussy SOB who didn't want to pay a king's ransom for his cars.
 

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The Miata has bigger aftermarket support. You can turbo or supercharge them and run tunes not available for our car.

Comparing an upgraded and broken in car to one still on the lot isn't a very fair comparison.
CK
 

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My next project ...Find a NC model Miata/MX5 stock and start having fun modding it ...Perhaps a karftwerk supercharger cherry on top
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The Miata has bigger aftermarket support. You can turbo or supercharge them and run tunes not available for our car.

Comparing an upgraded and broken in car to one still on the lot isn't a very fair comparison.
CK
The Miata I drove was a 2016 that had around 38,000 miles. Nonetheless, I also thought that a supercharger would be a perfect mod for that car. There is even a V8 conversion by Flyin Miata which would be just insane.
 
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V8 would be ridiculous
Great to have all that HP
But the extra weight in the front messes everything up unless its all for drifting.
The supercharger would add about ( depending what mods are installed) 100 whp . Kraftwerks MX5 Supercharger
And it would keep the front rear weight ratio about the same.
 

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V8 would be ridiculous
Great to have all that HP
But the extra weight in the front messes everything up unless its all for drifting.
Nope. The aluminum block LS motor doesn't change a thing, except to make the car better. Weight is 53/47. Price is of course commensurate..$50k for the conversion, you supply the car...Google Flyin Miata Habu for details....
Edelbrock is the go-to SC for the ND.
 

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Different experience for everyone. For me renting a Miata had me sold. I can’t wait to get rid of my 3 for one in the next few years. Personally though I’m not a fan of front wheel drive after owning a g37 coupe and an rx8 (I’ve also owned a couple sporty fwd cars), and I also don’t care about 0-60 times as much as fun in the corners. Just different preferences for different people.
 

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The Miata I drove was a 2016 that had around 38,000 miles. Nonetheless, I also thought that a supercharger would be a perfect mod for that car. There is even a V8 conversion by Flyin Miata which would be just insane.
I want to get a 2013-15 MX-5 with the non-sky MZR engine. Rebuild the suspension.. wider and lighter rims/tires.. then start on the engine and tune.. I'm salivating just thinking about the finished product.
CK
 
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