A wolf in wolf's clothing
August 28, 2006
I've had my M roadster for two months now. Every time I get in the car, the corners of my mouth turn up to my ears and my heart leaps into my throat. I drive like it's stolen.
I've topped it out on the turnpike and I don't often take a corner without a little smoke coming off the tires. Okay, sometimes a lot of smoke. At 155, the ride is smooth as glass and handling is effortless. Don't worry about the small calipers; braking from 155 to 75 (for an SUV changing lanes without a signal) is gentle as an ocean breeze; electronic assistance keeps the car quite nimble. The suspension is outstanding. I was racing (actually smoking like a fat ham) a Nissan something-Z and hit a nice dip in the road...well...more like a ramp. All four tires came up! The M handled that just as gracefully. It's always ready for the driver's next request and executes commands with flawless precision. And the exhaust note is simply beautiful!
Love it or hate it:
Full throttle; let it all hang out-- LOVE IT!
Try to take it easy; kid gloves -- still love it, just not as much. Drop the top, crank the tunes and cruise pimp-style.
When trying to behave myself around town, I've found it doesn't take sharp corners; it wallows through them. Only when you break the back tires loose does it perform smoothly.
The CG seems to be nicely balanced fore and aft, but is definitely TOO HIGH! The angles between the friction points and the CG have a large effect on body roll and in a turn the forces induced on the tires are not symmetrical. This causes the back end to roll a little more than the front. Inertia carries the rear end forward and the high CG shifts slightly to the rear and side opposite the turn; more so than it would if it were lower. This reduces downforce on the front tires and increases their slip angle. All of that adds up to understeer. Break the rear tires loose and their slip angle catches up to the front tires. You're on your way around the corner.
Don't let my complaints about cornering overshadow the incredible car this is. I'm just spoiled by the '99 Miata (still the best handling car I've ever driven). Overall, and in every other respect, the M is the exemplar roadster (albeit a bit of a brute). Lots of luxury, badass power plant, precision engineering and tremendous flash! (Bling! Bling!)