2009 September 21

2006 Miata

My primary vehicle is a 2006 Mazda MX-5 GT with premium package 1. It’s “Nordic Green” with a tan cloth top. As the power retracting hard top was not available that year, it was, in stock form, one of the heavier cars that year. I bought the car used, already modified. It has JIC FLT-A2 coilovers, spring rates of 6kg front, 5kg rear. The car had the AEM / Mazdaspeed CAI on it when I bought it, but I switched that to the K&N Apollo to remain legal for CSP. The car also has a lightweight flywheel, aftermarket clutch (nothing extreme), and a custom exhaust with resonators from Silverline. I have three sets of wheels for the car: the OEM 17x7s, 16×8 wheels from an FD RX-7, and 18×9.5 Enkei RP-F1s. I use the OEM wheels on the street, the Enkeis for autocross, and the FD wheels are waiting for some track rubber.

I enjoy a twitchy car, so I tend to go with more extreme toe settings than most would have. I prefer a bit of toe out on the front (just over .05º, but under .1º) and straight toe on the rear. I go with about .5º more camber on the rear than the front, with the exact amount depending on my emphasis this time around. If I’m autocrossing extensively, it’ll get more camber. If it’s mostly street and track, it’ll get less.

The car is an absolute joy to drive. The lightweight flywheel causes the throttle response to be quick and predictable. The clutch is similar to stock in feel and grab, and rev matching downshifts with this combination is easy. Unfortunately, people unfamiliar with the car tend to stall it at first, as the revs drop sharply as you clutch out at a stop. Once you know what to expect, it’s easy enough to drive. The transmission shifts from gear to gear easily, but the shifter has a notchy feel. Some complain about it, but I love it. The notchiness provides great feedback about gear selection, so I’m confident of every shift. The alignment combined with the somewhat firm suspension means the steering is quick and responsive, and the wheel communicative about the road surface. Of course, this communication is dependent on the tires, as well. Some tires provide a better quality ride and mute the feedback, just a bit, while others provide details about every little bump and scratch on the road surface. I prefer the latter – my spine can take the jarring, I want to know exactly what’s under me!

It’s that responsiveness, that twitchiness, that on-edge behavior that makes the car so much fun. Even when you’re well under the handling limits, the car provides huge amounts of information about what’s going on, and a quick flick here or there causes a lively, invigorating response.

By equiraptor on 21 September 2009 | MX-5