fourth-generation Mazda Miata is a triumph of automotive engineering. It’s small, nimble, lightweight, everything a sports car should be. But the Miata, even in its ND2 facelift, has been around for a few years now. Has the business of car engineering improved since then?
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Mazda seems to think so, because it’s updated the Miata with another facelift — an ND3, if you will. The car gets a new limited-slip differential, updated tunes on the engine and electronic power steering, new headlights, and a new color. It remains to be seen, however, if any of that will come to American shores.
Perhaps most interesting of these upgrades is the limited-slip differential — a subject to which most people pay little mind beyond “present or not.” The ND has a clutch-type limited slip, which use a set of clutches to regulate differences in wheel speed between the two rear wheels, but the ND3 adds a new cam system to the equation. According to Mazda, as translated by Google, this allows the engineers to set different behaviors for acceleration and deceleration. The car can lock its wheels together when you floor it, but react differently to those same forces when you’re on the brakes.
This isn’t a novel concept, even video games allow separate tunes for acceleration and deceleration behavior in a limited slip differential, but it’s unexpected on the humble little Miata. Mazda may be aiming upmarket, sure, but the company’s engineers haven’t forgotten that the Miata is a driver’s car — they’re still working to make it as enjoyable as possible at the limit.
If the ND3 is announced for the U.S., it’s likely we’ll see a variation on the changes announced for the Japanese market. We don’t get that car’s 1.5-liter engine, for one. But, perhaps this facelift will tide buyers over for the next few years until an NE Miata launches with electric power. If history serves, expect that in 2026 or 2027.