was all-new, it still shares an aluminium powerplant frame with its predecessors. This brace runs the length of the propshaft to connect the gearbox and differential to effectively create a backbone chassis similar in idea to the
that inspired the first MX-5.
Good as standard, but easily imporoved too
At the front end, the NC uses double wishbones with coilover dampers and an anti-roll bar. To keep weight down, the NC's wishbones are made from aluminium instead of the previous models' steel. For the rear, there's a new multi-link set-up with five links that connect the aluminium hubs to a steel subframe. The hubs are suspended by coil-over dampers.
Mazda claimed the new suspension design reduced nose dive under braking and squat under hard acceleration. For Sport models, Mazda fitted Eibach springs and a strut brace as standard to firm up the suspension, but some owners go further with aftermarket suspension kits such as the Meister R adjustable springs that give better control for track days while still offering a good compromise for road use. Thicker anti-roll bars from a Mazda RX-8 are a direct replacement for the NC to further improve the handling for track use.
Rear dampers wear more quickly than you might think on the NC, so budget £140 for replacements every three years or 30,000 miles. At the same intervals, also budget for new front and rear anti-roll bar drop links, which will cost around £160 for the set.
Limited-slip diff for 2.0-litre cars only
Rack and pinion steering with hydraulic assistance gives good feel, though this was improved for the NC2 by changing the front suspension's ball joints vertical pivot point, which lowered the front roll centre by 26mm. The result was improved turn-in and more natural steering feel.
All 2.0-litre models of the NC MX-5 have a limited-slip differential, except those with the Powershift automatic transmission. The 1.8-litre models do not have a limited-slip diff fitted in UK-supplied models.
Brakes for the NC MX-5 remained the same throughout its life, with 290mm vented discs at the front and 280mm solid discs for the rear. Due to the relative light weight of the NC, Mazda never saw the need to uprate the brakes and a set of discs should easily last for four years in normal use. Pads should manage 30,000 miles on average and cost around £80 for a full set of replacements.
Rear dampers need replacing every three years
Upgrading the brakes is easily managed with a set of EBC Yellowstuff pads. Check the front calipers have not seized and the car pulls up evenly during hard braking.
Early entry-level cars had steel wheels, which spoil the looks, so make sure these have been changed for suitable alloy wheels. The NC is easy on tyres thanks to its light weight. Owners recommend Toyo T1Rs and Nankang NS-2Rs for those looking to use the car on road and track.
To further upgrade the NC for track driving, there are a number of chassis and strut braces available. They all perform the same function, so the choice is as much down to aesthetics as cost, and you can expect to pay between £120 and £400 for a strut brace. Chassis braces will set you back from around £120 for a simple brace all the way to £500 for a much larger item that ties in to more mounting points for greater rigidity. There are also braces available to span the rear suspension turrets that cost from around £110.
"Within a couple of weeks of buying my car, I had lowering springs fitted and the alignment set up, which is very important with these cars as most come badly set up from the factory and this really can dramatically affect the feel of the car. It cost me around £350. The springs really did improve the feel of the car, and I was a happy customer."