The Mazda Miata’s U.S. Engineering Chief on How to Make a Great Sports Car


The Mazda Miata’s U.S. Engineering Chief on How to Make a Great Sports Car

Dec 2, 2015

Dave Coleman, 42, is the North American engineering manager for the Miata, a job that gives him the authority to develop Miatas for the U.S. market. We recently met Coleman to drive Miatas, talk Miatas, and discuss the importance of canyon roads.

C/D: What were your responsibilities on the MX-5?
DC: I was responsible for the whole U.S. spec. From setting the targets for what the car needed, to following it through development, to helping get it fine-tuned and dialed-in for this market.

The Mazda Miata’s U.S. Engineering Chief on How to Make a Great Sports Car 1

C/D: What battles did you fight for the Miata?
DC: At one point this car [the 2.0-liter] had a really heavy flywheel. We had lots of gear-rattle noises in the NC [previous-gen] that we kind of accepted because the only alternative to the noise was to have a heavy flywheel. We’ll go with having some noise. [Japan] really didn’t want to have the gear noise, so they put a heavy flywheel in the car, and it just didn’t respond right. It took this lightweight car and made it kind of feel heavy and clumsy. And it was way too late to be changing that thing, and we had to convince a lot of people to bend a lot of schedules to put together a development plan with no backups. Your backup plan is you have to go back to the heavy flywheel. But they managed, way beyond the last second, to come up with a new flywheel. It all gelled at the last second.

The Mazda Miata’s U.S. Engineering Chief on How to Make a Great Sports Car 2

C/D: What makes these roads important?
DC: There are just hundreds and hundreds of miles of the most dynamic twisty roads up here [north of Los Angeles]. But these are incredibly good test roads because they are not only twisty, they’re bumpy and uneven and upset the car, and there are all sorts of complicated transitions. You have to have a car dialed-in really well for it to do well on roads this complex.

This is a really good second- or third-gear car. That’s the magic of it. You can have a lot of fun without going that fast. This road we’re on now [Little Tujunga Canyon Road] was really to secure this car’s position as a Miata. This is the kind of road where Miatas have always been good.

C/D: Where else did you go?
DC: We also went over to Angeles Crest Highway, which is a much higher-speed, flowing road, and that’s where we tested a Lotus Elise and Subaru BRZ that we were benchmarking. Those cars don’t do well on these supertight roads, but they really come into their own on those higher-speed sweepers, and that’s where the older Miatas would kind of fall apart. We kept bouncing back and forth on those roads, trying to get this car to stay true to itself on tight stuff but play with those guys on the fast stuff.



<div id="contentad55980" ></div><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><script type="text/javascript"><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> (function(d) {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> var params =<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> id: "9a90d802-50e0-4489-bc8d-f0fe7c19cb45",<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> d: "cmltc2FuZHRpcmVzbWFnLmNvbQ==",<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> wid: "55980",<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> cb: (new Date()).getTime()<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> };<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> var qs = Object.keys(params).reduce(function(a, k){ a.push(k + '=' + encodeURIComponent(params[k])); return a},[]).join(String.fromCharCode(38));<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> var s = d.createElement('script'); s.type='text/javascript';s.async=true;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> var p = 'https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https' : 'http';<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> s.src = p + "://" + qs;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> d.getElementById("contentad55980").appendChild(s);<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> })(document);<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --></script><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This