JDM - General

Miata Drift Car | Here is Why the Miata is a Great Drift Car

The Mazda Miata is not only a great sports car but also great for drifting. Most people would assume that a 100hp roadster with no LSD wouldn’t make for a good drift car. While that may be true in some cases, the Miata is a hidden gem. Underneath its cute looks hides potential, ready to be released. Here are some reasons why the Miata could very possibly be the best drift car in the world.

Is a Miata a Good Drift Car?

The Miata has the right recipe to become a great drift car. It is an extremely light rear-wheel drive (RWD) coupé with an exceptional gearbox. Although power figures are not really impressive in comparison to other drift cars, it is plenty for the Miata. People tend to forget some of the most badass driftings ever done were on the mountains of Japan in 100hp coupés (Toyota AE86), just like the Miata.

With just a few minor upgrades the Miata transforms into an exceptional drift car. While fitting a supercharger or turbo to the engine surely helps, it is not really needed. Even the N/A 1.8L I-4 (129hp) in the NA Miata is enough to drift – if you know what you’re doing behind the wheel.

Can You Drift a Stock Miata?

Certainly. However, depending on their specifications you’ll have quite a varied result. If you have a Miata with a Torsen differential you’ll have no problems drifting. But if you have a Miata NA 1.6L with an open differential it’ll be more difficult. While the latter can drift, it is better suited for snowy or rainy days as the open-differential will make it difficult on dry surfaces.

The Mazda Miata NA 1.6L did not come with a Torsen differential. Only the 1.8L NA and later models were available with the Torsen diff. So if you’d want to drift a stock Miata it would be recommended to go with the version with a Torsen differential.

How do I set my Miata to drift? – Step by Step

If you are thinking of setting up your Miata for drifting, then you’re in luck. There is an enormous supply of aftermarket parts for the Miata, and they are quite cheap in comparison to other brands or models. In fact, the Miata is very likely the cheapest car to set up for drifting.

What comes to mind to most people when they are thinking of modifying their Miata for drifting is power. There is a misconception going around that having a supercharged or turbocharged Miata is a requirement if you want to drift. This is incorrect. More power is nice to have, and it can make it easier to drift, but it is by no feat a requirement. So don’t worry about having to put up a few grand for a turbo-kit – it is not needed.

However, there are two “requirements” if you can call it that, which are somewhat needed if you are looking to set up for Miata MX-5 for drifting.

Limited-slip-Differential (LSD)

The NA Miata came with an open differential in the 1.6L trim, these are no good for drifting. However, the 1.8L was available with a Torsen LSD which is more suitable for drifting.

If your Miata has an open differential there are two options you can go with. Either you purchase an aftermarket LSD which will set you back anywhere between $500 to $2,500 depending on quality, brand, and so on.

The second option in order to drift your Miata is to weld the differential. This means the rear wheels will always move at the same speed, whether you’re cornering or going straight. That’ll make it extremely easy to drift. The downside is that you basically ruin the ability to daily drive, or commute with the car as parking or cornering at low speed will become a nightmare.

Suspension (Coilovers)

Most people would be surprised at how much of a difference a good suspension setup will do to your drift car. Good suspension does not only keep the car balanced, but it also helps to put the power down as efficiently as possible. And if your Mazda Miata only has about 100 horsepower to play with, then you can’t afford to miss out on power delivery because of improper suspension.

A great pair of coilovers will set you back around $600-$800. But it is worth every penny. Once you go coilovers, you never go back.

Nice to have – angle kit

Having an angle kit is by no stretch of the imagination a requirement. It increases the amount of angle you’ll be able to take. The stock setup is somewhat limited but is definitely sufficient. For a complete beginner, or for someone building their first drift car, we’d argue against an angle kit. Once you master drifting without one, or if you want to take the next step in your drifting career then an angle kit would be suitable.

There are different levels of angle kits. Some angle kits start off as cheap as $200 but can reach into the thousands for angle kits used for drifting competitions.

Mazda Miata Drifting Tips

Here are some general tips for drifting your Mazda Miata MX-5. Keep at it.

Stay off public roads. Drifting should not take place on public roads, it is dangerous, and a wrong move could cost someone’s life. Drift under a controlled environment. If you can’t afford to go to a track day then practice in an empty/abandoned parking lot.

Stay away from curbs. The curb is not your friend. The curb will hurt you. The curb could ruin your entire car. Stay away from curbs.

When drifting low horsepower cars such as the Miata then weight transfer is your best friend. Weight transfer shifts the weight of the car, usually from the rear to the front. This means as your rear becomes lighter, you’ll lose traction. When that happens, you’ll have to use your skills to control the drift. Here you can read more about some drifting techniques.

If you aren’t willing to break it – don’t drift it.

If you are a novice drifter or beginner, take advantage of rainy/snowy days. Learning to drift in the rain or snow is an excellent idea. You won’t need nearly as much speed, and it can be done in nearly any RWD car, even with an open differential.

Do you love practicing those handbrake turns? Tape down that handbrake button. This allows you to do smoother transactions. Also, it eliminates the chances of the handbrake getting stuck, which would consequently spin you out.

E. Lindgren

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