Which MX5 is best for me?

Technical Guidance for doing those Tricky Jobs

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Which MX5 is best for me?

Postby PUR157 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 3:43 pm

Way back when I had suggested opening a forum thread to once and for all stop those NA vs NB vs NC vs NZ vs Red vs SP debates... and I've finally had enough!
Also in a less grumpy fashion it's a thread that exists to direct newcomers with the perennial "Which MX5 is best for me?" Questions archiving all the knowledge of the forummers

I repeat, this isn't a "Is the MX5 for you" but more of a "Which MX5 is for you" so view it in this manner for the best use!
Also, the reader must realise that the MX5 history has been evolutionary, as such, ongoing improvements to chassis stiffness and electronic systems are ongoing and it is assumed that each is more modern (and as a result more capable) than the previous

I have done my best to write this in an objective fashion recalling all information I've read in the past on the forums, and let me get my cards on the table, I own a White NA MX5 Clubman, so this (hopefully not TOO many) is where my own loyalties lie.

Also the "Trainspotters Guide" details the easiest ways to tell apart different MX5s of the same generation, that is they deal mainly with the facelifted models between generations as these differences can be very subtle. It is assumed the reader is able to tell the differences between generation.

Note: On this forum, there is a common notation of NA6, NA8, NB8A, NB8B, NC1, and NC2. These are not official designations recognised by Mazda but merely appropriations which were started by Bob Hall (one of the original MX5 engineers) as a more elegant way to describe which MX5 is being examined

NA6 = NA 1.6
NA8 = NA 1.8
NB8A = NB 1st Gen.
NB8B = NB 2nd Gen.
NB8C = NB 3rd Gen. and SE
NC naming system is yet to be hatched but I have called them NC1 and NC2 for 1st Gen. and 2nd Gen. respectively

The relevant sections detail this system and their relevance to the VIN.

Disclaimer this is a thread written to the best of my knowledge, feel free to add comments by putting them in the General Chat area and I or one of the moderators will if it seems reasonable enough add them (and also credit you with your contribution).

Now take a deep breath, Here we go!
Last edited by PUR157 on Fri Jun 20, 2008 4:19 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Postby PUR157 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 3:43 pm

First Generation - NA

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NA6 89-late 93 Officially Designated GV1
The original, the most raucous. Equipped with a 1.6l DOHC Inline 4 producing 85kW pushing a one tonne roadster, a throwback to the simple days of motoring

Pros
Simplicity - Maintenance is always the simplest on the NA6
The Exhaust note - a highly subjective issue, but most people agree the exhaust note was the sweetest in the stable

Cons
Rarity - Need to put in the hard yards to find one in good condition nowadays, but it isn't impossible, they are 20 years old at the least and most spend their lives being dríven after all
Creature Comforts - Not comfortable (by todays standards) and definitely not a car for those who want to be pampered

Okibi adds - Short Nose Crank - Some owners have reported Short Nose Crank failure (especially on imported Eunos models) which is fully detailed on the parent forum, but in effect, every early model (ie pre '92) NA6 has a potential to need an Engine Change if SNC strikes

Suits: Traditionalists and the old fashioned, people who appreciated the days of the old british sports car but also the reliability, Also a very good starting point for the DIY warrior but perhaps not a fair representation of what motoring is like today engineering wise

===========================================================================================

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NA8 93 - 97 Officially Designated NA30P3 ('93) to NA30P5 ('97 final model run)
Perhaps a more grown up NA6

Pros
An Enhanced NA6 - Bigger brakes, Bigger engine, Stiffer Chassis among the regular evolutionary enhancements
Powerrr - The MX5 now has the BP ZE 1.8l engine with 98kW

Okibi adds: The NA8 also comes with strengthened differential, axles and driveshaft
Creature Comforts - Power steering and Air con started becoming much more widespread for the MX5 at this point in the generation

Cons
Rarity - Not as extreme as the NA6, but similar case, they are old, and they are dríven
Comfort - Still not a car to choose if you're used to the modern day comfortable car

Suits: Very good as a tuning base be it at street or club racer level, those who want the purity of the original NA6 but with a little more ability

Addendum: for lil_mike and also wun911, the NA MX5 has the most added lightness, tipping the scales at 980kg dry :lol:

===========================================================================================

Trainspotters Guide : The main difference is in the wheel design and size, 14" in the 1.6 jumps to 15" in the 1.8 model. There is also a Mazda Decal on the front bumper of the NA 1.6 but unless taken care of will have worn off by now. I personally do know of a 1.8 in Montego Blue running around with 1.6 wheels and a Mazda Decal :mrgreen: so stay sharp!

edit picked up by Fatty : In mid 1993, wheel design was changed from the 1.6 to 1.8. (NA6 to NA8 ) Both were still 14" dia. but went from 5.5" to 6.0" width on the standard Australian delivered models.
[edit by STM]
Last edited by PUR157 on Sat Jun 21, 2008 12:22 am, edited 7 times in total.
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Postby PUR157 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 3:44 pm

Second Generation - NB

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NB8A 98 - 00 Officially Designated NB30P1
A more modern evolution of the MX5 mantra, younger, stronger, more comfortable, but nothing the lesser for it

Pros
Availability - Much more widespread, with years much newer of the NA and the according Mileage advantages
Safety - Introduced Airbags as standard and more modern dash
Performance - Enhanced BP engine now puts out 106kW
Comfort - Much less harsh than the original NA, more sound deadened, comfier (and taller seats) , rear wind blocker

Okibi adds: With the introduction of the NB8A also came the introduction of the glass roof soft top, some say it was a blessing to the rest of the MX5 stable as roof lowering is fully able to be a one arm stop light affair

Cons
(Personally I haven't found much that is overly flawed about the NB8A so I'll let the owners take this one)

Suits: Those who are worried about the NA ownership experience (mainly concerns to do with age) but still like the want the visceral nature of MX5 motoring

===========================================================================================

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NB8B 00 - 03 Officially Designated NB30P2 - NB30P4
Another evolutionary step for the MX5, small tweaks leading to big differences

Pros
Engine power has been bumped up to 113kW thanks to the addition of valve timing control
Addition of 6th speed in gearbox gives the power transmission a greater range of flexibility
Larger brakes than the earlier NBs.

Caffeine adds: along with the additional chassis strengthening, a front suspension strut tower brace is added, it is equipped with a better stereo system and more useable cup holders
Also '02 year cars and later, are OBDII (on board diagnostic) compatible
Some have argued that this was the best of the breed in terms of the mass produced MX5s, Best Motoring claims that the NB8B represents the MX5 that Mazda Japan was always aiming for and finally had produced in terms of driving experience and dynamics

Cons
The MX5 is starting to grow up, driving experience is starting to soften up (it just won't feel as fast as an NA to some)

Suits: For the more discerning taste, for those who have grown out of the juvenile character of the NA

===========================================================================================

Trainspotters Guide : The Main difference to note is the treatment of the front of the car, headlights are sharpened in the corners and coloured indicator bulbs are not as obvious, and small cheek scoops added. Also similar to the NA updates, the wheels have changed; 15" on the earlier gen' and 16" on the later
Last edited by PUR157 on Sat Jun 21, 2008 12:19 am, edited 16 times in total.
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Postby PUR157 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 3:45 pm

Third Generation - NC

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05 - early '09 Officially Designated NC30F1
A complete revamp of the MX5 mechanicals, but with as much as possible adherence to original philosophy

Pros
Newest, still perfectly possible to be under factory warranty
Much more comfortable than previous iterations of MX5, suspension and damper settings
Now with a 2.0 MZR putting out 118kW
Even more capable than previous generations of MX5 with subtle suspension tweaks as it has the most recently honed dynamics
Easiest MX5 to live with with auto being widespread and the option of powered plastic roof
Also '07 models onwards (thanks AJ!) come with Traction control and Dynamic Stability control as standard, making emergency management of the MX5 just that... much more manageable
Availability of a folding fibreglass hardtop adds extra security with a very little weight penalty, but the option of the ragtop soldiers on

Cons
Questionable suspension settings from factory, some were just not adjusted right, many motoring publications state that suspension behaves in a very unsettled manner, but easily sorted with a good wheel alignment
Driving experience much more muted compared to previous generations of MX5, definitely not as raw

Suits: Those who are looking for the newest possible representation of the MX5 mantra, much more diluted over the years, but no less able

===========================================================================================

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early '09 to date Officially Designated NC30F2

Solid Pros and Cons are yet to be seen, but a general rundown follows

The NC has taken a similar evolutionary step up from the F1 to the F2 as the MX5 did all those years ago in the 1st and 2nd gen NBs
Lines have been sharpened and the overall styling theme changed and refined slightly (but whether or not this is pro or con is up to the beholder)
There is the availability of Recaro recliners albeit only in the higher specification hardtop model, and the BBS rims from the previous edition LE also make a return
The crankshaft is now forged for added strength and the redline has been stretched to 7500RPM (increased over the previous gen's 7000) to give the engine a little more sparkle if not added power. There are also other various powertrain components that have been honed
A Torque Sensing LSD is standard on all manual models
In a bid to win over previous NC owners complaints over creature comforts, the placement of the cupholders has been moved so that they no longer clash with the legs sitting closest to the doors

Suits: The people this MX5 suits are mostly the same as the NC30F1, a further refinement of the overall package that some say strayed a little from the original MX5 mantra, modern compromises due to tightening safety and emissions regulations are evident (and unavoidable) when comparing this to the originals, but it is clear that Mazda have done the best job they can. The philosophy behind it is still firmly Jinba Ittai, MX5.

===========================================================================================

Trainspotters Guide : Once again, similar to the previous generation, the front treatment is the main giveaway.
The front cheek scoops are sharpened and now recess fog lights in all models, the headlights are sharpened, and the corners of the grille have been stretched.
Wheels are different however sizing is the same, Mazda continues its newfound fondness of the "snowflake" wheel design in the NC2.
On the NC1 the rear light lenses are clear and the housing for the lights are chrome, but on the NC2 the rear light lenses are now an opaque orange.
Also inside the engine bay of the NC2 if you look at the air filter/intake setup you will spot the "harmonic enhancer" leading to the firewall
Last edited by PUR157 on Sat Jun 21, 2008 12:20 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Postby PUR157 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 4:34 pm

Special Mention

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SP - 2002 Variant based on the NB30P2 designation
Limited run engineered by Allan Horsley the father of the RX7 SP and 12hr Endurance RX7s, an MX5 with 157kW and a hairdryer under the hood

Garry says: 100 were sold to the public with 1 additional Mazda Employee car made

Pros
Finally the MX5 is given the power that everyone thought it could handle, 157kW in a car barely weighing over one tonne
Some see it as the holy grail as it was the definition of factory modification for the MX5

Cons
Reliability and Maintenance is questionable however, with accounts of mixed experiences, still nothing short of reliable
Availiability - starting to get very thin on the ground, initial run consisted of 100
Some would argue 157kW is too much for a car of this weight

Suits: Those who are prepared to take care of their car in their ownership experience, but arguably for an MX5 experience like none other

Trainspotters Guide : This one is more difficult, there is no discernible difference on the exterior to the non-turbo MX5s of this generation.
There is however, a small SP decal on the rear next to the license plate recess
Look inside the engine bay for your clearest indication

===========================================================================================

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SE (NB8C) 2004 Officially Designated NB30P4
Some say Mazdaspeeds own interpretation of the Turbo MX5, brought into mass production

Pros
All the benefits of the NB8B but with a turbo all from factory as standard, power is now at 121kW
Enhanced visually with many body mods like skirts and spoilers
Can be enhanced aftermarket to take up the 30odd kW power gulf between itself and the SP
Thicker A Pillars for enhanced roll over safety

Caffeine adds: Also there is an auto mode for the power windows and the windblocker has integrated speakers
Wholesale Suspensions added: The SE came with a Torsen LSD as well as a strengthened 6 speed gearbox.

Cons
Some felt that the Mazdaspeed modifications were a little lacklustre in the face of the SP, that the Turbo was more for tractibility

Suits: For those who are after the turbo MX5 experience but are not concerned about the SP exclusivity

Trainspotters Guide :To differentiate the SE from the non-turbo MX5s around at the same time, the SE gained a full mazdaspeed bodykit in the form of chin spoiler, and rear boot spoiler and bumper diffuser. The cheek scoops also contain fog lights and with a return to form, the SE gains 17" Racing Hart rims in shadow chrome finish. The Headlight housings have also been darkened underneath the lenses

http://www.mx5cartalk.com/SP_SE_Comparison/
Last edited by PUR157 on Sat Jun 21, 2008 12:21 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Which MX5 is best for me?

Postby Alex » Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:00 am

dorifta wrote:Are all 2000 models 110% NB8Bs?

Can you check this via the vin number?

NO, there seems to be a few NB8A's which were produced early that year. (all before March I think).
I think you can check by Vin but there are alot more ways which are simpler IMHO.

From the outside, headlights (NB8B projectors, NB8A reflector), taillights (NB8B looks nicer IMHO), front bumper (All NB8B have fog light fittings, also sharper edges on top of the 'mouth'), wheels (16" and different style), strange sensors on hubs (ABS sensors, hard to describe)

From the interior, seats, steering wheel centre logo (NB8A's have Nardi centre, NB8B's have Mazda badge), Centre console (NB8B's have cup holders with sepearte lids), Dash (NB8B had white gauges, NB8A has black with red dials), Shifter (NB8A 5 speed, NB8B 6 speed)

Under the hood/bonnet, Intake pipe (NB8B has a weird add on piece midway through, looks like a tumor to me), spark plugs (NB8B used COP setup, NB8A has normal spark plug leads), ABS (NB8B only, located passenger side up against firewall, looks like a box with spagetti coming out the top).

It's also worth noting that some NB8B's had problems with clutch shudder, there was an official release from Mazda as well relating to this, it can be viewed Here. By now the car is probably out of warranty so you can either use higher revs before releasing the clutch or get a replacement at your own cost. Some were replaced under warranty and others never had any problems.

There is probably more that I have missed

Obviously someone could start with an NB8A and make all the required changes so it looks like an NB8B
Last edited by Alex on Wed Jun 10, 2009 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Red NB8A - BD rollbar - Hardtop

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Which MX5 is best for me?

Postby dorifta » Wed Dec 17, 2008 3:07 am

does anyone know if the na8s in new zeland (mazda eunos) are any different to aus ones?
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Which MX5 is best for me?

Postby CoffeeBoss » Fri Aug 07, 2009 6:36 pm

05 - early '09 Officially Designated NC30F1
- all Australian delivered manual NC's come with the 'Super' LSD as standard.
- heating/cooling improved with the addition of a third set of 'lap' air vents.
- 7 speaker Bose stereo option. Bluetooth and iPod connectivity optional from the factory
- larger boot due in part to the lack of a spare wheel
CON: no spare wheel, this has been replaced with a kit containing a can of Tire Goo (sealant) and a cigarette lighter powered tire pump.
PRO: up to 1G in corners :-)

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Which MX5 is best for me?

Postby StanTheMan » Sat Aug 08, 2009 8:06 am

Wholesale Suspension wrote:Also maybe a mention of the strenthened gear box (6 speed) and the Torsen diff for the SE?



could anyone confirm if the LSD was a type 2 torsen ? or a new type of torsen LSD ?
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Which MX5 is best for me?

Postby sliq » Sat Aug 08, 2009 6:46 pm

dorifta wrote:Are all 2000 models 110% NB8Bs?

Can you check this via the vin number?



i am 110% sure only nb's made pre october are NB8A's.

mine is a november 2000 model, so it must've been one of the earliest babies of the most legendairy mx5 models.
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Postby sliq » Sat Aug 08, 2009 6:47 pm

StanTheMan wrote:could anyone confirm if the LSD was a type 2 torsen ? or a new type of torsen LSD ?


i think boyracer could tell us that :mrgreen:
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Postby Regie » Sun Aug 09, 2009 5:47 pm

sliq wrote:
StanTheMan wrote:could anyone confirm if the LSD was a type 2 torsen ? or a new type of torsen LSD ?


i think boyracer could tell us that :mrgreen:


my Torsen2 came out of a 2001 model. im thinking they used the T2 thorugh the later models. There is only the T2R torsen
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Re: Which MX5 is best for me?

Postby Steampunk » Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:38 pm

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Re: Which MX5 is best for me?

Postby lee » Wed Aug 14, 2013 1:37 pm

You are the reanimator
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