- ​My personal ND2 and I have spent six months together now. Time flies when you're having fun. Photo: David Ahumada

​The Achilles' heel of the ND MX-5

All cars have faults, some are just worse than others.

14w ago
5.6K

I always try to find critical faults in cars when I drive them. It's what my friends call my specialty. I don't care for the lack of creature comforts, but the true faults in a vehicle. There's nothing that's worse than a fatal flaw in the design that ruins the daily usage of a vehicle.

The fourth generation of the Miata is hailed as the best Miata ever by owners, automotive journalists, bystanders, and even Mazda themselves. There are very few faults with my ND2 RF, it is everything I've ever wanted out of a car. After six months of ownership, I've finally found the one thing that is extremely faulty.

The factory seats are awfully stiff and become unbearable on long trips.

An example of the angle of the driver's seat, but the overall seat design from the passenger seat.

An example of the angle of the driver's seat, but the overall seat design from the passenger seat.

Light as a feather, stiff as a board-- ring a bell? After a while, these stiff seats become unbearable to drive in, very few owners I witnessed in Facebook groups like them at all. For a brand that puts a lot of thought in designing its halo car, the seat design really feels like an afterthought. The factory Club seats lack lumbar support, are awkwardly shaped, and really not meant for a taller driver. Unfortunately, these seats come standard on all trims, but leather wrapped for the GT.

This can also be fixed from the factory with the optional Recaro/BBS/Brembo package for an additional $4,670 USD. However, a large number of aftermarket seats are also available, but you'll lose airbag support with the decision to change.

For the next generation of MX-5, I'd like to see better factory seats. At least something with a less stiff design and a lower height to it. I find this becoming a problem for most automakers. They're designing seats that are too high to give the driver the impression that they're taller on the road. They're also designing seats with weird materials and a lot of bolstering, especially on standard vehicles like Toyota Corollas. Mazda was trying to save weight the Miata seats, but it feels like they pulled the seats from the Mazda2, eliminated most of the padding and the bracket to raise it.

With the addition of the telescoping and tilting steering wheel for the ND2, there is some relief. However, I'll be looking to replace seats sometime soon as this is my daily driver. Everything else is so perfectly laid out for the driver, it really feels like the company ran out of budget development for the seats.

It won't kill a bad drive like this one, but the moment I get off of the fun roads, it turns into pure hell on the way back.

It won't kill a bad drive like this one, but the moment I get off of the fun roads, it turns into pure hell on the way back.

If one day a ND1 or ND2 is in reach and accessible, and you decide to buy one, check out the seats first and try to find one with the Recaros. These seats are bearable for the first few months, but after a while become way too painful on your back. Or maybe I'm just an old man at 23.

Other than that, the car is absolutely perfect. It's the ideal sports car that you can daily, pack lightly or become a minimalist, but one that doesn't rob your wallet if you decide to run it on the track. There's nothing wrong with the driving experience, it's front-engine, rear-wheel-drive perfection that only exists in the BRZ/FRS/GT86/86/GR86 at this price point. After driving both before pulling the trigger and buying the Miata, I drove both Toyobaru twins, and the MX-5 was more visceral and a roadster, it was the experience I was looking for.

The MX-5 feels great from the steering wheel in your hands, the positive shifter action, the pedal spacing, and all the way to its 7500-RPM redline. It's amazing when you nail a succession of really tight switchback corners, that's where the Miata really shines and dances.

Just don't sit in it for five hours, or more.

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Comments (8)

  • I put an inflatable bladder in the seat in my NA and that solved the problem. My NB has very comfortable seats.

      3 months ago
    • I recall the NA’s and NB’s seats being alright with me. I drove a modified NA with a racing seat and loved that. I haven’t really driven an NC, so I can’t really say much about those. I’ll look into a solution like the inflatable bladder, but idk...

      Read more
        3 months ago
  • I just want a couple more inches of legroom from the next generation. I am above average in height at 6'4" and i adore the MX-5. But I can't enjoy it fully because my knees get bruised against the dash every time I hit the brakes.

      3 months ago
    • Completely agree. The ND seats give you the impression that it can move back another inch or two. I’m only 6 feet tall, so it feels a bit odd, but my buddy who’s 6’3 agrees that a bit more leg room overall would help out.

      I just want the seat back...

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        3 months ago
  • Something to keep in mind about the seats; you reviewed the Club model. They sporty model. Hence the rough seats.

    If you want comfort, go for the Grand Touring models, where you can get leather seats. You do mention this, but I can confirm the GT’s seats are more comfortable.

      3 months ago
    • I drove a GT when I was looking for my MX-5. The only thing I remember was sliding around on the leather with my jeans.

      They seemed like the same seat design, but I’ll have to drive a GT again in the next generation to see if it’s an improvement....

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        3 months ago
  • I drove an ND with the Recaros on a 5 hour straight trip once. Honestly, I was surprised at how little the seats bothered me even after that long

      1 month ago
    • The Recaros are the superior seat. For the next generation, I’d like to see a Recaro standard, but I know that most people racing will just swap it anyway.

        1 month ago
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