NC (2014) Steering felt 'light' during a test drive

  1. My model of MX-5 is: Hoping to buy soon!
  2. I’m based near: West London
  3. I’m looking for technical help or recommendations on: MK3/NC steering

Hi folks,

I am new(ish) here. I used to own 1998 1.8 NB but sold it about 14 years ago when the kids arrived. I’m now ready to join the MX-5 gang again!

My dream is a 25th Anniversary edition but I know they are pretty few and far between, so I’m open to looking at other cars too. So far I’ve test driven a 2017 1.5 ND and a 2014 NC 2.0 powershift (I had never considered an auto MX-5 was intrigued).

I loved the ND but would like to try a 2.0 as a comparison. I don’t think I got the most out of it by using the gears properly to make the most of the power.

The NC powershift was much more fun than I’d imagined and had plenty of poke. I also liked the slightly more spacious feel of the cabin. And every girl loves a glovebox! However, the steering just seemed a bit ‘off’ to me.

I am in NO WAY technical about cars so please excuse my rather lame descriptions…

Basically, at low speeds, the car felt great, and the steering, if anything, felt a tad ‘heavy and grippy’, but pleasantly so. Once I went above about 45 mph, I really had the sensation that the steering felt overly 'light. Almost like someone had dumped several huge bags of coal in the boot and the front wheels were riding a bit high, sort of like being on tip-toes! (Like I said, I am not technical :rofl:) I was acutely aware of the handling and felt that one tiny movement might send me spinning off the road. I’m sure it wouldn’t but I didn’t feel that in control.

Is this a ‘feature’ of the NC and is it just something to get used to, or do you think it was specific to the car?

I know I need to test drive some others to compare, but I thought I’d pick your very knowledgeable brains!


they can feel like that if the alignment needs doing


I have had an NC for nearly a year so no expert. However, my initial feelings were identical to yours to be honest. I found the tyre pressures were too high (previous owner had just had new ones fitted the week before I purchased it, so didn’t notice) and when I adjusted them down to 27-29 psi all round it made a huge difference. There still is a bit of what you describe but nowhere near as bad. I would now say that at lower speeds it is great, but at higher speeds there still is a bit of vagueness. I am hoping to upgrade the shocks at some point (all discretionary spending on hold just now due job…) and I’m hoping that will be a further improvement to firm it up a bit. Take a tyre pressure gauge on your next test. :grinning:
I think it’s a great car though! Good luck

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Hi Helen, as above really, tyres and their pressures are a relatively easy one to check. These cars respond well to a decent set of matched tyres which have the correct pressures all round. A full 4 wheel alignment is a good idea, to get the best out of the handling too! My previous NC, I swapped the wheels to a new set, using the tyres that were on the car as soon as I bought it. Despite asking the fitters to inflate to 29psi all round, they didn’t and I didn’t check. The car was so bad, I started to regret buying it, coming from a long line of mk1 models. I finally checked the pressures, they were uneven and way out, reset them and the car transformed! Good luck in your search :+1:

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Echoing the above. My NC came with mismatched ditch finders and was really quite poor. A new set of tyres helped a lot, but alignment also needed doing, which I did after I changed the suspension all round. It was still disappointing… felt heavy at walking pace, and at higher speed felt that you needed constant steering input to avoid driftifting across the road. Turns out I had about 25psi in each corner, blew them up to 29 and it is transformed. Much much better.

Lesson here is tyre pressures need to be taken cold. Do it on a hot day, or after a drive, then pressures need to be higher as they will vary by several PSI with temperature, and the recommended pressures (which should be shown on a sticker on the driver side door frame) are for cold setting.

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Thanks for the replies. Interesting stuff.

Is this unique to the NC?

Also, is it dangerous or just a ‘thing’?

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I think it’s just a thing with them, as you explain.
Having said that it shouldn’t wander around at higher speeds, mine does feel lighter at higher speeds.
Last time out in mine I felt it may need the alignment rechecked it does now feel a little sensitive on each and every bump in the road, it is 13 years old now so bushing etc will wear.
I had my alignment done some 3 years ago when I had a full suspension swap and new tyres before all that.

Critical really for the MX-5, decent tyres at the correct pressures and an alignment check. Some dealers as said in posts above may throw a cheap new tyre on here and there when selling a car, they aren’t bothered about fine tuning stuff so long as it feels safe stops/goes and looks the part. It’s always best to ask away about this kind of issue, you’ll learn and get the important stuff sorted first on any potential issues found.

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Tyres are important but alignment is the key to stability at speed. All alignment set ups run a balance between low and high speed stability. Car set up for motorway speeds and higher is never going to turn in quite as fast. Quite possible a 2014 car is way out on settings but easily remedied.

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Also worth mentioning there was an improvement made to the steering on the 2009 refresh of the NC. I haven’t driven one, but I believe the steering feels better on the NC2 than the NC1. What the changes were I don’t know, may simply be that the later cars were slightly lower, or there may be a mechanical change to the steering rack/pump/etc.

That said, my NC1 is pretty sorted now, and anytime you try something new, it will feel different at first until you get used to it.

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If the tyres are the original 2014 set supplied by Mazda, then the steering will be sadly lacking. This echoes my experience with my NC, bought at 6 years old with only 17,000 miles and the original Bridgestones with about 6mm tread all round.

Sometimes in the wet it felt like driving on ice, with the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) light flickering on and off whenever I did anything with steering or the right foot! If it wasn’t for the DSC the car would have been off the road many times just driving gently. And this was the improvement after setting the tyre pressures correct. Nightmare.

A new set of Dunlop Maxx all round and an alignment check at WIM (Wheels In Motion) in Chesham, and the car was transformed into a limpet, gripping the road in any conditions (wet or dry, twisty lanes or motorway) and an absolute joy to drive. Grin Factor 10+. That was when I finally realised what all the fuss was about with these cars!

New supple matching GOOD tyres at the right pressure are essential. Most well known brands will be OK. I chose the Dunlops for best quietness and good wet grip, I didn’t care about long life for my limited mileage.

A four-wheel alignment is highly desirable, I have “Fast Road” set up on mine. WIM are experts and know the MX5 very well indeed, also Ferraris, Lambos, Astons, Jags, etc from the local dealers.


If anyone wants to try a mk4 2.0 I have several in stock. I also have a demo car with manifold and re-map…

We also have several ‘for sale’ some believe it or not are accident damaged repaired. Most insurance company’s once lock down commenced we’re writing them off for nothing due to lack of parts & garage rto repair them…this now means we have some bargains.


Mentioned the comments to the dealer and he checked the type pressure and said they were all al 31psi. He reduced them to 29psi and I had another test drive. The difference was noticeable and I feel reassured.

I’m still erring towards a 25AE (or an ND) but it’s great to know what I should be expecting from a handling point of view.

Many thanks for your help!


If you’re still thinking ND 1.5 vs2.0 I bought the RF2.0, but have tried the 1.5. My RF is a daily driver kept outside so I wanted the relaxed cruise for Motorways , my first six months were high mileage so that was a good plan up till 23 March 2020. On club drives the ND 1.5s easily keep up and sound a lot more exciting as they have to work the gears more, which is surely the point of MX-5ing? :smiley:
If I had been looking for a second car or weekend only type use I would have probably gone for 1.5ST but love my RF…you will feel the same whichever 5 you get.

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