ND1-How good?

I’m getting interested in buying an ND1, especially now that Recaro Editions are popping up at just over £15K for a really nice example. They seem extremely good value for what they are. Or, is there another model with the same performance/equipment as well!? Which is the best to go for?

What I’d like to hear from actual owners, to help me decide whether to go for one, & as I have never actually driven one, is how good they really are in the real world. No track days but definitely some spirited driving.

Is the 160 bhp enough; or do you keep craving for more? Is the body roll enjoyable or irritating over time, or is there a not so expensive solution to get the car even better? Is the boot big enough with some soft bags for a week or so road trip?

Happy Christmas.

The answer is necessarily subjective. I think the 1.5 is enough, and I preferred it on a test drive to a 2.0 Sport Nav with the same set up as the Recaro.

The Recaro is a good package and I’d probably have one myself for the seats alone, which are more supportive than the standard ‘deck chairs’ which are not especially kind to my back, although I’ve learned to live with them. The Recaro has the stiffer suspension, and, if it matters to you, an LSD.

We have done two 10 day holidays using only the boot for luggage.

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The Recaro is undoubtedly the best value MK4 to date. For me the 160bhp is lacking (coming from 250bhp hot hatches and a 380 torque V6 E-Class. That said it is enjoyable but i definitely feel it lacking in power from time to time (I’m going down the turbo route soon).

For me, in standard form the car’s handling was pretty awful and rather unpredictable on the exit of corners, this was easily remedied rather inexpensively with a set of the optional Eibach springs, although I have a set of MeisterR GT1s to replace mine on order.

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The Sport Recaro has always been the best option in my opinion - I love mine. The Recaro seats are great but might not suit the more generously proportioned owner. I’m more than happy with it the way it is and have no plans to upgrade the car in any way.

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Yes, the Recaro package & LSD are important for the performance. Good to know about boot.


GarethC Did the Eibach springs also lower the car & did the ride suffer?

Yes, they lower the car by 30mm. I’ve seen a lot of people say it had no compromise on ride and even some say its better. My personal view is, that there is a small compromise in terms of ride quality, I find it slightly harsher than the standard suspension, the rebound specifically over rough roads is less compliant. For the improvement in handling and looks however, it is more than worth it IMHO.

The Recaro seats are geat, but its worth bearing in mind they can wear easily so you need to be careful getting in and out of them and I condition mine regularly as well as use Gyeon Leather Coat for protection on the bolsters. I’m 6ft 2ins and have no issues with the seats (I find them plenty comfortable) thats with having 2 prematurely worn lower discs and scoliosis, the only thing I have done is fitted AuroraAutoDesign seat rails which has lowered them just over 1.1" which allows me to fit in the car better and certainly gives it more of a go-kart feel.


Hi, I am in a similar position. I currently have a 3 year old Golf FTI and a n NA 1.6 which I rarely use as I have to get it out of the garage and as with all such things you need to be constantly on top of.

Therefore 2 options - 1. buy a new 2.0 red soft top and potentially add the factory sports exhaust and alcantara dash, or buy a 4 year old 2.0 recaro model. I do like the recaro seats, but am not sure which way to go. Obviously there is a financial difference, but other than that, is the new car (with the more powerful engine) any better?

My main issue is the recaro editions are already 4 years old and I wil want to keep it for 3 years, so it will start getting old and there is peace of mind from a new car…


Very useful info.

30mm would be just about right as the Bilsteins will still manage to do their job. Not an expensive/complicated mod either, which would definitely improve the rolling resistance that I’m sure I would not be able to live with on our shitty roads.

It just so happens, we met up with our MX5s this morning & an ND Sport + was present. The owner kindly took me for a ride. He bought it new here in Malta but now has quite a few mods. It is sitting on different 17s with better offsets & tyres one size wider than OE. But, the suspension has only BBR 30mm lower springs replaced.

With these, it felt planted with no inconvenient body roll although we did not go for a high speed run & just a few spirited sprints. However I did get a feel it was reasonably compliant considering the car.

Recaros should be enjoyable & not an issue as I’m just 5 ft 10". I did notice the passenger side quite limited for me, especially for a long trip. On the other hand, that is where my wife would sit & she’s only 5ft :blush:

The newer car (ND2) 2.0l benefits from having the new 183bhp engine which has better characteristics (as well as the obvious higher bhp) than the older 160bhp one, and it also has the the new, better gearbox.

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Thanks, is the difference noticable with the higher power? Also, does anyone have experience of the upgraded sports exhaust or springs?

I just really like the Recaro Edition package but would prefer a later similarly equipped ND2 with the extra power. However, there are 4 year Recaro Editions with just 10K miles on them, which to me, is practically new. Same to be said with 20-30K miles on these cars. I would still want to eliminate the body roll on the ND2 which would be £3-4K more.

So, a power upgrade on factory ECU from BBR supposedly to 175BHP is reasonably easy to do. I think I could live with that.

This would leave me with a more limited run car as a cheaper alternative.

I have the Eibach 30mm lowering springs fitted to both cars, they certainly make the cars feel more “planted” without compromising the ride. Never had the 160bhp 2.0l. Mine are a 2015 ND1 1.5l 130bhp with the free revving engine, lovely driver’s car, and the 2019 ND2 30AE with the 183bhp 2.0l which has the same free revving feel as the 1.5l which was apparently missing from the earlier 2.0l engine, which I believe was only really introduced because the US market didn’t like “small” engines.

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Something else to bear in mind is the fact that the ND1 2.0l was the version that did have gearbox failure problems, mainly cars used for track events but some road cars as well, not a massive amount, but enough to cause worries. There are quite a few threads on the matter on the forum. Worth making further enquiries before purchasing. Hopefully someone on the forum with more info will add a post.