And that brings us to what an absolute turd the 2006 MX-5 NC-chassis was when it was first released. It was heavier—and while it did have a welcome amount of torque—the handling was simply terrible in comparison to earlier cars. It became worse with sticky tires, picking up both front and rear inside wheels at the slightest provocation. Imagine riding on the shell of a giant tortoise after it polishes off a bottle of Night Train. The results are not graceful nor rewarding and it's embarrassing for you and the turtle.
Mazda, or rather, the real enthusiasts that run the show at Mazdaspeed here in the United States, recognized how bad the 2006 MX-5 was and gave us something pretty darn cool for 2007: the MSR package. It started with a base-model SV with a five-speed manual and added the Tochigi-Fuji clutch-type limited-slip differential that was otherwise exclusive to the six-speed, together with shorter, stiffer springs, larger anti-roll bars, more chassis bracing and bigger wheels. The MSR even came with Koni adjustable dampers. It was everything a Miata should be, with just a few thousand bucks worth of bolt-ons.
Unfortunately, just a few dozen people bought the MSR package, and as far as I know, only one example was actually built at the port of entry to make it legal as a port-installed option for SCCA club racing and autocross. Most Miata guys don’t even know what it is.
The MSR package lasted just a single year and it wasn’t until Mazda updated the MX-5 in 2009 that a slightly better Sport suspension option with stiffer springs and Bilstein shocks was offered. The engine got a host of internal upgrades, allowing a 500rpm higher rev limiter—now 7200rpm— which really helped get the most out of the available six-speed transmission. This Sport suspension package was rolled into the Special Edition MX-5 in 2012 and the Club package in 2013, with the same basic goodness and a few styling cues to make it look the part. No longer a staggering turtle, the MX-5 Club felt every bit the willing Jackrabbit and it sold much more widely than the esoteric MSR.
So as we wait another two weeks to just see what the new MX-5 even looks like, I implore you, Mazda engineers, to not skimp on the suspension tuning and as you develop the option packages, keep us track and performance guys in mind at all times.
Your marketing crew touts that on any given weekend, more Miatas hit the track than any other car out there—a fact that’s both true and wonderful. Don't let that slip away in the quest for wider appeal like you did some of the earlier cars. We’ve had your back since 1989, and now 25 years later, we hope for the same from you.