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Are Miatas Good Drift Cars? (All You Need for Going Sideways)

Are Miatas Good Drift Cars

Drifting is a lot of fun.

But like all motorsports it’s not cheap and your drift car needs to meet certain requirements. The Mazda Miata is a fantastic drift car, especially for beginners.

They’re not as popular in the drifting world as something like a Nissan 240SX.

A Miata’s shorter wheelbase means that you have to be more cautious about your inputs to avoid the car spinning around on itself.

In this way, the car is unforgiving.

Other than that, the Miata is a rewarding car to go drifting in. Below are some additional reasons why Miatas make good drift cars.

Lightweight

Miatas make good drift cars because they're light weight.

The formula to a good drift car is fairly simple, it needs to be lightweight. One of the things that make the Miata such a great drift car is its light weight.

A light weight has always been a benchmark of Miatas. All generations are fairly lightweight with some generations reportedly coming in at less than 2000 pounds.

This is what makes the MX-5 one of the best handling sports cars in the world. A light weight makes a drift car more agile and easier to spin the tires.

It also makes it harder to regain traction during a slide which is exactly what you want when it comes to drifting.

Rear-Wheel Drive

Rear wheel drive cars make it easier to drift.

Another piece of the formula for a good drift car is that it’s preferably rear wheel drive. Miatas are rear-wheel drive.

You can drift in a front-wheel drive car. I’ve tried it.

But it’s difficult. And less fun. Drifting is a sport where you’re rewarded for taking corners as fast as you can in a skid.

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When the drive tires are in the rear, it makes drifting easier for the rear of the car to step out as the tires spin through the turns.

Having the drive tires are in the rear also makes it easier to be more precise with throttle input.

Horsepower

Miatas don't have a great deal of horsepower which isn't necessary for drifting anyway.

Despite what all those spectacular tire shredding drift sessions we watch might lead us to believe.

The fact is you don’t need a great deal of power to drift, especially as a beginner. Miatas are not renowned for their horsepower numbers.

The latest Miata has a 1.5-liter engine that only produces 130 HP. And yet they’re one of the most satisfying cars to glide along a curve.

Some of the best drifting in the world were done in cars like the Toyota AE86 with horsepower figures similar to the Miata’s.

LSD

Most Miatas come with an LSD which you need for drifting.

So, if horsepower isn’t that important for drifting, what else is?

A limited slip differential is the secret sauce to drifting.

It works by shifting a portion of the torque to the wheel with the most traction while limiting the slip on the wheel with the least traction.

You’ll want a Miata with a Torsen differential for drifting. A Miata with an open differential makes drifting more challenging but not impossible.

You’ll have the best experience drifting a Miata with an open differential on wet surfaces.

The good news is most Miatas after the first gen NA models come with the Torsen differential.

But if your car doesn’t come with an, LSD you can always install one. An LSD for the latest Miata will set you back around $600.

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Transmission

Miatas come with manual transmissions which makes drifting easier and more fun.

While you can drift in a car with an automatic transmission, a car with an automatic transmission is hands down the way to go.

And I’m saying this as someone who’s tried drifting with both types of transmissions. That’s yet another aspect that make Miatas such a great drift car.

You can get them in either an automatic or manual transmission. And even though the auto industry is slowly phasing out the manual transmission.

Mazda Miatas are one of the rare new cars you can still get with a manual.

Brakes

A hydraulic brake makes it easier to induce a skid.

Yes, an E-brake can do the job. But it wasn’t designed for the drift application.

You can yank on a hydraulic brake to induce oversteer with a lot more force to break out the back end of your car.

If you do this often enough on your car’s emergency brake it will wear out the brake cable used to lock up the rear brakes.

A hydro brake is that long lever by the transmission shifter you often see in pro drift cars.

Often these hydro brake systems come with a totally separate rear brake caliper and secondary brake cylinder to preserve the factory brakes.

These kits cost just under $250 for a Mazda Miata.

Suspension

Lowering your car improves drifting because of the lower center of gravity.

There’s a reason why lowering a car is one of the first modifications made to tuner cars.

Even though Miatas are sports cars that already come with an aggressive stance.

Lowering a car also means you get stiffer springs which helps for less weight transfer when you start drifting giving you better control of the car.

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Lowering springs for an MX-5 Miata can cost between $600 and $2200.

Angle Kit

Angle kits aren't absolutely necessary for drifting. But they help you achieve better angles.

While you’re at it, an angle kit isn’t a bad idea.

If you’ve ever found yourselves marveling at those extreme sideways angles those professional drift cars can achieve, now you know it was the result of an angle kit.

A steering angle kit is an aftermarket suspension modification that helps your car get more sideways than you ever thought possible.

Is it necessary for drifting?

Absolutely not. But it’s something to think about as your skills improve. You should be able to get a great angle kit for your Miata for less than $1500.

Sway Bars

Adjustable front and rear sway bars help improve balance for drifting.

Ever noticed how much control those professional drifters seem to have over their drift machine?

Sway bars give your car more stability which is especially important in drifting.

They help you feel how much input the steering and throttle your car actually needs as you glide through corners.

You’ll want to get a matched set for the front and rear that are adjustable. You can get a matching set of sway bars for a Mazda Miata for less than $500.

Sources:

Topspeed.com; Wikipedia.com; Medium.com; Hotcars.com