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ND2 vs SS 1LE

 
Old 06-25-2019, 10:56 AM
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Default ND2 vs SS 1LE

It's been slow around here so I thought I'd share my latest car journey with you guys involving the cars in my title.

So after I sold my last (third) S2000, I've been in the market for my second, "fun" car for a while. I told myself this time I'd take my time so I can stop this trend of buying and selling cars every 6 months or so. Thankfully, I haven't lost any money in the process and I got to own alot of cars I've always wanted. But I'm tired of dating and at least want to pretend I'm ready for marriage now.

This will be a second fun car, but I have to consider that it may need to serve as a DD potentially. Track days will be infrequent and I'm not aspiring to drive competitively, but my intention is to hopefully make this more frequent, or at least autocross. Majority of the driving will be around town, making mundane tasks less so.

What I've learned in my car ownership life is that exciting cars don't always make driving exciting. The voodoo engine in the Shelby, awesome, but SECOND gear will get you into jail speeds. Under 3500rpms, the engine is an absolute dog like the S2000, only it weighs 1000lbs more. Also, scoping out parking situations and driving like your car it's your first born gets old, for me anyway.

That said, having a charasmatic engine is vital to a second car. Sound, power delivery, and flat out power can make you overlook alot of flaws in car.

The SS 1LE is a special car. Driving around town, it drives like a great cruiser. You're pretty well isolated from the outside, stereo and creature comforts are all good. You can relax and carry on a conversation. This is one thing I love about modern muscle/pony cars, it they straddle that fence between Clark Kent and Superman very well.

Press a few buttons, get it out on an open road, and the car really wakes up. The steering is nice, turn in is surprising, the car goes around corners surprisingly flat. As your focus sharpens, the car seems to shrink around you, it's very weird. The car hides its weight very well, and it encourages you to go faster. When you open the exhaust, it sounds great, the power is always there, immediately, unlike the Voodoo or F2xC, very reminscent of driving a vette. As you wind it out yeah, it tapers off, but it's still very satsifying.

The car is proven to be reliable and durable at the track, so for my skill level, cooling and durability won't be concerns, just running costs. Speaking of which, I am frugal by nature, and yeah 20" 305 tires... real world mpg of about 20mpg too.

The looks... especially for 2019, is polarizing at best. I happen to like it, but the looks is definitely not one of the selling points for me. If I could swap bodies with the mustang, I would. It's just a big car, with some nice lines and proportions, but some glaring styling miscues, I mean look at the distance between the quarter glass and rear wheel opening, I could paint a mural there.

And it drives well at low speed... like Camry/Lexus/Avalon well. It's comfortable and civilized, but it's not fun per se. The fun in this car is when you open the exhaust and get on it, but because its limits are so high, it's numb otherwise. But unlike the Shelby, the power is accessible everywhere.

And lastly, I'd have to buy this car used, for better or for worse. New they sticker about 45k, going rate is 39-42, immediately depreciates to about 35, can be bought with low miles for 30-31 already for a 2017. Buying a track ready car used is always an adventure.

The ND2 RF is a car I didn't think I'd be gaga over, but it really won me over. Right off the bat, the styling is definitely to my aesthetic, I love classic proportions and simple, flowing designs. Sure, the fender are a bit high and I hate that the quarter "glass" is just a blacked out panel, but otherwise it's damn near faultless in my eyes. And if I were to design a simple, sports car interior, I'd have a hard time designing a better one than the ND2's interior. The materials could use upgrading, but looking at it I don't see much room for improvement. Styling in/out, the car punches above its weight class.

I fit in the car well, in some ways better than the S2000. The non-Recaro seats lack the support around the hips, the seats therefore feel a bit flat, but it's definitely more comfortable. Ergonomics are great, space is a bit lacking. No permanent cupholders, just the removable ones. Gets kind of old when you want to have a water bottle, your phone, your keys, and a passenger in the car. Heaven forbid you have something small to carry too. The trunk is small, smaller and less useable than the S2000, but borders on the side of comparable.

The power is punchy, car just feels eager and playful, much like the FRS. The difference though, is that when you ring out the engine, where the FRS looks away from the S2000, the ND2 sticks its chest out. It doesn't match the power, or frenetic mechanical energy of the S2000, but it doesn't let you down like the FRS, and it gives you something to look forward to. The ND2 is very reminiscent of the B16C and B18C, just feels a bit anemic compared to a K20 which I even prefer to the F2XC despite making less power.

So driving around town, the engine tuning makes the ND2 more fun to drive than the frustrating S2000. The car is playful, low end torque, lightweight chassis, tight steering, skinny tires, great steering, decent shifter (I prefer the shifter in the FRS and S2000, but still very good), good pedal placement, the car just has personality. It also has all the modern creature comforts you want and the RF roof isolates you well from the outside. It's what I want out of an S2000.

Like the 86, this car is fun to drive at low speeds, and doesn't necessarily let you down as you wring it out. Additionally, Mazda is doing a better job in reducing inventories and building as needed, so seeing an RF is actually pretty rare.

Oh and this car regularly gets over 35mpg, and has running costs that rival a Corolla. And for the price of a used 1LE, you could get a new ND2. I priced one out locally an was shocked I could get a ND2 RF GTS for 31k before ttl. So theoretically, I could buy this new, which if all things were equal, anyone would prefer a new car to a used car.

But... as good as the ND2 engine is, we're comparing it against the FA20 and the F2xC, not the V8s and I6 turbos out there, because when you do, that little charming engine gets lost in the shuffle of growling V8s and purging turbo motors that actually deliver real excitement that aren't just appreciably quick. You suddenly went from amuse-bouche to a meat course. Power is addicting.

So I'm torn, both cars speak to different, very loud sides of my brain, and I have owned cars in both spectrums. I've talked/read both sides who have had the other, it's a tough one. They both fill the role of weekeng car well, but depending on the situations, they shine better. In the Camaro, I will miss the nimbless of the MX5, and frankly the MX5 is more my style. In the MX5, I know I will miss the power and the rumble of the V8, and the fact that I can actually fit stuff in car like say when I pick someone up from the airport. And I wonder how much the running costs will wear on me, I mean I could go to Europe for the price of a tire change for the Camaro. I'd rather go to Europe. But getting on the power exiting the last turn going into the straight passed the paddocks on Laguna, hearing that V8 unload, I mean...

What would you guys have?

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Old 06-25-2019, 11:03 AM
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ND2. I prefer the soft-top, though.
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Old 06-25-2019, 11:14 AM
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Great write-up! I’d take the Camaro but I’m a sucker for big torque and V8 power. I loved my ‘16 Camaro SS too before I wrecked it. Awesome, all around car.

That said, the ND is a special car too and I appreciate it’s purposeful mission and I like that Mazda still builds these cars.

I think you can get better deals than you think too on the 1LE. Ask around. I saw almost $10k off sticker a year or so ago on a new SS.
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Old 06-25-2019, 11:36 AM
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I bought a 2SS Camaro convertible to replace the S2000. I goes, stops, and handles and is comfortable... the only down side is trying to get used to the bulk and limited visibility. Now that I am exposed to the instant power I don't think I can go back to winding up a four to get power.
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Old 06-25-2019, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by QUIKAG View Post
Great write-up! I’d take the Camaro but I’m a sucker for big torque and V8 power. I loved my ‘16 Camaro SS too before I wrecked it. Awesome, all around car.

That said, the ND is a special car too and I appreciate it’s purposeful mission and I like that Mazda still builds these cars.

I think you can get better deals than you think too on the 1LE. Ask around. I saw almost $10k off sticker a year or so ago on a new SS.
The 1LEs have no such luck, if you could get it at 38 that seems to be the unicorn deal. I personally got it down to 40, even after shopping around the country. In the end, buying used makes more sense as these do plummet to 35 instantly and then 30 in a year or so.

I'm a sucker too for torque the theatrical drama of noise of a v8. But between that or a small nimble car, I give it a slight edge, but only slight.

Being frugal though, there is a guiltless pleasure about the ND as well, freeing up money for more car related or non car related fun. In the urban environment I live in, having a small car that actually has decent clearance and short over hangs is alot less stressful to negotiate.

But the power and sound! I'd love to do the flyin miata ls3 swap into the nd. Best of both worlds. Stupid California emissions, and well lack of funds lol.
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Old 06-25-2019, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by cdelena View Post
I bought a 2SS Camaro convertible to replace the S2000. I goes, stops, and handles and is comfortable... the only down side is trying to get used to the bulk and limited visibility. Now that I am exposed to the instant power I don't think I can go back to winding up a four to get power.
Yeah once you go v8, it's really, really hard to go back. My C5Z ruined me, instant power everywhere. As great as the voodoo sounded, I missed the power delivery and usability of the vette. The lt1 in the ss gives a similar experience, when I drove it, the way it felt I did not feel I would be downgrading, heck might even be upgrading over the voodoo.
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Old 06-25-2019, 02:07 PM
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I think it also depends on where you live. I love power myself and i find myself really really wanting a Mustang whenever i'm in my friends 2018 GT. However at the end of the day since i live in the Bay Area, the amount of times i'm allowed to rev out my S2k compared to when he's really allowed to put his foot down is no question. It got to the point where he sold his mustang and got the new Camry because he said he wasnt having fun in the car.

My roommate daily drives a 2017 ND and she's been having no issues in the two years of ownership. The car is as you describe, light, peppy, fun anywhere without any of the harshness of the S2k at low RPMs.

It seems to me you are already leaning towards the ND2 more than the Camaro. Your breakdown of the car was in farm more detail and you spent a lot more time talking about the ND than you did the Camaro. All you really said about the Camaro was "it goes fast cuz V8 vroom vroom". I'm curious if the fantasy of having high power will eventually disappear when you realize you just cant enjoy that power whenever you want (again depends where you live). I've always been a drive a slow car fast type of guy myself, and as much as i would love to own a GT350, it would be one of those cars i'd drive maybe once a month or so.
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Old 06-25-2019, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by xxyion View Post
I think it also depends on where you live. I love power myself and i find myself really really wanting a Mustang whenever i'm in my friends 2018 GT. However at the end of the day since i live in the Bay Area, the amount of times i'm allowed to rev out my S2k compared to when he's really allowed to put his foot down is no question. It got to the point where he sold his mustang and got the new Camry because he said he wasnt having fun in the car.

My roommate daily drives a 2017 ND and she's been having no issues in the two years of ownership. The car is as you describe, light, peppy, fun anywhere without any of the harshness of the S2k at low RPMs.

It seems to me you are already leaning towards the ND2 more than the Camaro. Your breakdown of the car was in farm more detail and you spent a lot more time talking about the ND than you did the Camaro. All you really said about the Camaro was "it goes fast cuz V8 vroom vroom". I'm curious if the fantasy of having high power will eventually disappear when you realize you just cant enjoy that power whenever you want (again depends where you live). I've always been a drive a slow car fast type of guy myself, and as much as i would love to own a GT350, it would be one of those cars i'd drive maybe once a month or so.

Looking back at my post, it does seem that way but I'm leaning towards the SS. I guess for most people, the answer is easily SS 1LE so I thought I'd have to explain more why it's such a toss up for me.

But your insight is spot on, I'm in the bay area too and when I owned my V8 cars I found I drove it less frequently because yeah, to get the fun out of them, I either can't because of our wonderful traffic or because I'd be breaking the law. The new noise enforcement isn't helping things either. I totally get why your buddy would sell the Mustang and just get a Camry, or why alot of car enthusiasts end up getting a luxury car or something. In the end, the amount of recklessness (whether driving or financial) required to really have fun with those cars is more than I'm willing to pay. That said, god they're fun when you do though isn't it?' And I think your buddy wouldve had more fun with the Camaro/Corvette, the power is very useable. The modern Ford V8s lack sledgehammer torque everywhere that the GM small blocks have, so it doesn't have that throw you back in the seat feel at low rpms that V8s are known for. I almost bought a 2016 Mustang GT PP back in 2016, but my takeaway from it was that generally it drove like any normal car.

My hang up on the ND2 is that I'm afraid I'm going to miss the power, like I did in the FRS, and kinda did in the S2000. The thing that made me sell the S2000 was ultimately it also just wasn't that much fun driving around town either, and I DDed one at the end of college and going into my post college years. Yes, I could hit VTEC and not go to jail, but driving it below VTEC wasn't exciting, and the car isn't a great cruiser. I'm not 22 anymore and I have since driven modern cars that allow me to have my cake and eat in that regard. Nothing spells misery like driving an S2000 during a heatwave with the ac on full blast and a radio that can't drown out the ac noise, or the squeaks and rattles for that matter. The FRS was better in that regard, and is why the ND2 RF keeps lingering in my head, perhaps it takes the better qualities of the FRS and the S2000 and combines them, And it appeals to my cheapskate side.

Another thing to consider is that I hope to take it on some short road trips with the wife, fitting into both cars isn't really an issue, but the Camaro does have more useable space, but the Miata will be vastly less costly mile after mile which in itself increases the enjoyment. I recently drove a POS Opel manual hatchback while on vacation last month, and it was a total POS but I had a blast just driving it around doing touristy stuff with the wife, and as she napped in it I worked on the heel toe a little bit, I grew almost attached to the little bugger by the end.

But something about being in America, in a high strung environment like the bay area, something about the "more" culture, I can't help but succumb to the question will I miss the power.
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Old 06-25-2019, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDonEffect View Post
Yeah once you go v8, it's really, really hard to go back. My C5Z ruined me, instant power everywhere. As great as the voodoo sounded, I missed the power delivery and usability of the vette.
Yeah, that's why I'll stick with my C7 vert.
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Old 06-25-2019, 05:21 PM
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I bought my 2nd s2000 (2006, Suzuka blue) from my friend who replaced it with an ss1LE (with manual) for autocross. Oh. My. God. it makes all the right noises, and is a weapon with RE71R's. I had a smile on my face from ear to ear on course.

Completely different animals. cost no object? buy the bitchin' Camaro!

darcy
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