The case against grip, as evidenced by the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata – Ars Technica

Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Today we are completely and continuously bombarded by numbers—from near and far, in our work and even in our games. But if you deconstruct one particular human-machine interface, numbers mean nothing.

Supremely high levels of grip from tires on sports cars do no favors for your driving pleasure or the joyful mastery of a challenging, twisty road. In fact, they do quite the opposite. Super-high-grip tires mask mechanical communication. For the non-expert enthusiast driver without an Andretti level of skill, such rubber can often be unforgiving and unapproachable. Super grippy tires can make the ability to tickle the car’s natural limit of adhesion out of reach.

The real shame is that this is the exact point where enthused driving becomes a dance worthy of the effort. A sports car can be as rewarding a partner as Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers, but fit horrendously grippy sneakers, and grace falls flat on its ass. Put simply, tires and suspension engineered for maximum possible grip deliver what they’re supposed to, but in inverse proportion to fun. And just to prove that this is not totally out of sync with today’s expectations, the poster boy for this notion just underwent a complete redesign that’s wholly devoted to improving human-machine communication and moderate grip: the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata.


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