The S2000 is an absurd accomplishment of engineering. The AP1’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder revs to 9000 rpm. The agent makes added application per liter than any added artlessly aspirated car, and is akin to apparently the best gearbox anytime installed on a assembly car. It’s my accessible dream car, one that I still can’t advice but smile at every time I airing by. But it’s not a bigger sports car than the ND2 Miata.
This wasn’t accessible to swallow. Because I continued maintained that all I bare was a Miata, until a adventitious befalling to drive an S2000 at an autocross advance fell into my lap. From the additional that AP2 crested 6000 RPM, the VTEC ablaze has shone blithely aural me. No Miata would anytime be appropriate enough, I thought. Great cars, sure, but in common arguments in absolute activity and on Twitter—mostly with Engineering Explained’s Jason Fenske—I proclaimed my appearance loudly. If your car doesn’t rev to 8000 rpm or more, you should apparently bandy it out. If it’s a decade newer than the S2000 and is still bottomward about 60 hp, you should absolutely bandy it out. Balloon torque, balloon Miatas: The S2000 makes you work, but in acknowledgment it offers the best sports car experience.
I relitigated this altercation at a aggregation affected blaze recently, the night afore a big Road & Clue shootout featuring eight of the best cars anytime built. Only one new car becoming an invitation, the ND2 Miata. Zach Bowman, our chief editor and the man whose dad awash me my S2000, argued acerb that the accessibility, cheapness, and replaceability of Miatas fabricated them added fun; you don’t anytime accept to babyish them. Plus, they offered added torque beyond the rev ambit and an all-embracing bigger experience. Sure, I conceded, a Miata has bigger council feel and low-end grunt, but the S2000 is the all-embracing champion.
The abutting morning, about 25 anxiety into active the Miata, I accomplished I was wrong. The Miata is bottomward 60 hp and 1500 revs compared to the S2000 I had flogged on the way to the track, but it’s additionally 400 pounds lighter. You can feel that and the torque, which both contributed to the alacrity with which it goes about its business. The S2000 pays no apperception to you until you blast it bottomward two apparatus and coffin the gas pedal. The acquaintance becomes religious as you acme 6000 rpm; Some buzzy, animating becloud that alcove college than Miata driving’s best arresting peaks.
But the adorableness of the Miata is that the best genitalia aren’t fleeting, they’re ever-present. The abeyance affability is perfect, softer over bumps than the S2000 but added anticipated and sure-footed in corners. Its council never shuts up, giving you far added advice than AP1 or AP2 S2000s. All of that encourages you to advance harder, the ND2 absolute added of itself the faster you go. You can advance it alive that the chatterbox council and progressive, candid anatomy cycle will acquaint you continued afore you ability the banned of your grip. When you do, it dips into controllable, accessible slides that are far added acquiescent than the S2000’s past-the-limit behavior.
Most of this was consistently true. Yet the pre-2019 Miatas suffered from forgettable engines, with little amazing accolade for your momentum-conserving driving. Not so in the ND2, with a ability bandage that crescendos abreast its aloft 7500-rpm redline. The added horsepower—now 181—isn’t what matters, it’s that you get admission to added as you choke it out. It’s far from the world-beating brightness of a 9000-rpm screamer, but it’s agitable and absorbing all the same. And clashing the S2000, you can adore the agent affairs out of a parking lot, its befuddled low-end accessible to cast you against the horizon. The AP2 bigger on the around-town alacrity of the S2000, but the Miata takes it a footfall further. It is consistently interesting, consistently advancement you to play. On the clue or in traffic, the Miata is added fun added of the time.
Make no mistake, though, I still argue that the heights of S2000 active beat the Miata. Come into a bend hard, blast off a heel-toe downshift, administer the aback end, and delay for the white-knuckle access out of the bend as you draft accomplished 6000 rpm assimilate a straightaway. Keep the F20 singing appropriate up until 9000 rpm, grab addition accessory with the best shifter in the world, and bacchanal in alive that no Miata has anytime acquainted that good. It’s aloof in so abounding added scenarios—at a chase track, about bound corners, in circadian driving—the Miata feels better. It’s added friendly, a bigger apotheosis of the democratized sports car we all love. The aforementioned ashen ability band, the aforementioned excitement, but with bigger handling, bigger steering, beneath weight, and no bite. In the ND2, Mazda has actually congenital a bigger two-seat sports car than the S2000. Only took ’em 19 years.
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