2022 Mazda Miata Slows Its (Body) Roll by Hitting the Brakes
Driving enthusiasts got scared a few months ago after rumors that Mazda was canceling the MX-5 Miata hit the Internet. Luckily, Mazda’s iconic convertible sports car—and MotorBiscuit’s 2021 Car of the Year—is sticking around for 2022 and beyond. It’s also even more devoted to the #savethemanuals campaign. But arguably even bigger news is the new way Mazda plans to sharpen the 2022 Miata’s handling.
The Mazda Miata fanbase has a complicated relationship with body roll
Although the Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of the best affordable sports cars on sale today, one of its features is a bit divisive. Whether you’re talking original NA or the latest ND, the roadster rides more softly than some expect. While that’s beneficial on broken roads, it also means the Miata corners with more body roll than most modern sports cars.
For some, the ‘trademark’ Mazda Miata body roll is helpful because it clearly communicates weight transfer, thus improving handling. Furthermore, this level of clear feedback is part of what makes the Miata an enthusiast favorite. For others, though, the body roll is something that needs to be stamped out through some choice modifications. And they do have a point. Excessive body roll can upset the driver, screw with tire traction, and make cornering slower, Grassroots Motorsports explains.
As a former Miata owner, I’m in the former camp, though if I’d autocrossed my car, I might’ve switched sides. But Mazda claims the 2022 Miata has a body-roll solution that keeps both groups happy. And it’s a bit unorthodox.
How the 2022 Mazda Miata uses its brakes to cut body roll without spoiling the ride or the fun
The conventional way of decreasing body roll and sharpening handling is to install stiffer sway bars, aka anti-roll bars. However, while stiffer sway bars do decrease body roll, they also make the ride worse, Road & Track explains. Some automakers get around this drawback with active anti-roll bars, but those are expensive and heavy. And neither of those properties work with the 2022 Mazda Miata’s lightweight, affordable nature.
Instead, Mazda went a bit outside the box and gave the 2022 Miata ‘Kinematic Posture Control.’ Know how cars like the Mazda3 have torque-vectoring systems that brake the inside wheel to send more torque to the outside wheel and tighten the cars’ lines? KPC is sort of like that in that it brakes the Miata’s inside rear wheel during cornering. However, it works in a noticeably different way.
Firstly, KPC applies no more than 10% of the minimum caliper pressure that a brake-based torque-vectoring system sees, R&T says. Secondly, it’s not activated by driver input. Instead, the 2022 Mazda Miata decides to activate it or not based on the speed difference between its rear wheels.
In addition, unlike torque-vectoring, KPC doesn’t shuffle power around. Rather, it’s more like an anti-body-roll cheat code for the Miata’s anti-squat rear suspension geometry, R&T explains. Braking the inside rear wheel actually pushes that side of the 2022 Mazda Miata up slightly, which counters the effects of body roll. Thus, you have sharper cornering without sacrificing your comfy ride. And as a bonus, if you get a 2022 Miata Club with its standard limited-slip differential, KPC reportedly enhances the ‘limited-slip’ effect when accelerating through a corner.
When can you try out this 2022 MX-5 party trick?
As of this writing, no one’s confirmed if KPC improves how the 2022 Mazda Miata handles and rolls. But it’s worth noting that this isn’t the brand’s first unconventional handling upgrade.
A few years ago, Mazda introduced ‘G-Vectoring Control,’ which slightly cuts engine torque to load up the front tires and sharpen handling. It’s subtle, but it genuinely makes a difference, especially on slippery surfaces, R&T reports. Having driven two generations of CX-5 back-to-back, one with GVC and one without, I can back up R&T’s observations. Incidentally, Mazda recently started rolling out the upgraded version, ‘G-Vectoring Control Plus,’ which adds braking into the mix.
The good news is that you won’t have to get a fully-loaded 2022 Mazda Miata to try KPC out. It’s standard on every 2022 Miata, which should hit dealers in the next few months.
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