2016 Mazda Miata Puts Its 50/50 Weight Distribution On Display


50/50 weight distribution. For many rear wheel drive cars, it’s the holy grail of compromise when it comes to an FR layout. The Mazda Miata, for the most part, has always had 50/50 weight distribution so when it came time for Mazda to showcase this engineering feat, they opt to show its customers rather than tell them.

Enter 2011. Mazda achieves what some consider to be an advertising feat worthy of the hall of fame. They manage to balance an actual 2011 Mazda Miata on a seesaw balance beam with driver inside. When the supports were removed, the Mazda Miata balanced just like they engineered it too.

Now it’s 2015 and on the cusp of an all-new generation of Mazda Miata being released to the public, Mazda has done it again! Just like they did in 2011, they’ve stuck a driver in a 2015 Mazda Miata and let go of the support beams.  What results is a perfect 50/50 weight distribution just like they planned. Check out the video below for all the juicy details.

So 50/50 weight distribution. What’s the big deal? If you google around and even pick the brains of some actual racecar drivers, you’ll find that most race cars aren’t actually 50/50. Some race cars are actually front weight-biased to compensate for the shift in weight during acceleration.

So why do the most infamous sports cars like the BMW 3 series (now 4 series), Mazda RX-8 and Chevrolet Corvette tout its near 50/50 weight distribution as ideal? Because for all intents and purposes in real world, it is. Imagine

Imagine a car with an engine that can be placed anywhere on the length of the car. With the engine in the front, the front wheels have to steer as well as transmit power. Less grip is available in the rear causing an overall understeering car dynamic.

With the engine in the rear, the rear wheels are overloaded with weight leaving a very light front end causing an oversteer condition dynamic.

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Put the engine in the middle and you have an ideally weighted car with power being transmitted to either front, rear or all wheels and an overall neutral handling characteristic.

Thus for cars like the Mazda Miata with the front weighted by the engine and the rear balanced by a rear drivetrain combined with clever engineering, you have an overall neutral handling car. For the everyday driver, this is ideal and thus why many car companies engineer for this handling quality.

H/T – Mazda USA