Since the NB Miata is naturally aspirated, performance engine mods aren’t always the best upgrade. A few thousand dollars of mods won’t get you much in the way of horsepower so a lot of times money is better spent on performance-handling mods, such as coilover upgrades.
Coilovers not only offer appearance benefits by being able to lower or stance the Miata but also improve handling and cornering, both on the street and on the track. This guide is going to cover the benefits of NB Miata coilover upgrades, important factors for choosing the right coilover, and our favorite brands split out by function.
While this article covers coilover suspension upgrades for the 1998-2005 NB Miata, we’ve also written a coilover guide for the NA Miata, which you can read here.
NB Miata Coilover Considerations
There are a couple of different factors to consider before selecting your coilovers. Spring rates, dampening adjustability, and tube design are a few of these components that we’re going to dig into as well. Lastly, we’ll cover the difference between lowering springs and coilovers for those on the fence as to which they need.
The most important thing to keep in mind when evaluating these factors is what your goal is. Are you looking for stance, better street performance, hybrid street and track use, or a dedicated track car setup? The more advanced the setup and the more adjustability means the higher the cost as well, so budget will be a limiting factor on what you can and can’t get.
Mono-Tube vs. Twin-Tube
This is a bit in the weeds so we’ll try to hit the high points only. Mono vs twin tube refers to the internal components of the shocks and how they are built. If you care about the engineering aspects of how they are built and function, you can check this article out. Otherwise, here are the important highlights:
- Mono-tube allows for more consistent dampening forces and is more sensitive to small suspension movements
- Mono-tube coilovers are stiffer because of the above, which makes them better for track use
- Twin-tube is less expensive to manufacture and twin-tube coilovers are cheaper
- Twin-tube is more comfortable for street driving since they are less sensitive and less precise
The key takeaways here are that if you want coilovers for track use, you should get mono-tube coilovers. If you are just street driving your NB Miata then twin-tube designs are more practical since they are less expensive and more comfortable.
Dampening essentially controls how much the coil springs compress and how quickly they rebound. Adjustable dampening refers to controlling or adjusting the compression and rebound. It is essentially a way to adjust the softness or stiffness of the suspension since it controls the compression and rebound of the spring.
When selecting coilovers there are two options: coilovers with pre-set dampening and coilovers with adjustable dampening. Adjustable options usually come with 8 to 32 different dampening adjustments so that you can fine-tune your suspension for your exact tire and wheel setup, various different track events, etc.
NB Miata coilovers with adjustable dampening cost about 2x more than pre-set options. While adjustable dampening is nice to have, it’s really not necessary unless you track your car or drive through various different terrains where adjusting dampening is helpful for ride comfort and so on.
If you’re just looking for street performance or stance it’s not worth the cost in our opinion. If you track your car it’s a must have.
The third important component is spring rates. Spring rates are measure in pounds per inch and refer to how much weight or pressure it takes to compress the spring 1-inch. It is also a measurement of how stiff the suspension is. Spec miata suspension as an example is about as stiff as it gets with 700lbs/in spring rates. Driving something like this on street roads would be brutal because of how stiff the spring is.
Three main takeaways. Track cars want super stiff for performance. Street cars want an in between for a balance of performance and comfort. Stance guys or cars that intend on going very low need stiffer springs to prevent bottoming out.
Coilovers vs. Lowering Springs
Coilovers include upgraded struts/shocks with upgraded springs. If you want to leave your OEM struts/shocks alone you can simply swap out the factory coil springs for lowering springs. Lowering springs are less costly since it is just the springs, but they don’t offer height adjustability or dampening adjustability. They are also harder to install.
If you want a fixed drop amount and slightly better handling performance then springs are an okay upgrade. However, with entry-level coilovers for the NB starting at $419 we always recommend getting coilovers. They offer better performance but also offer height adjustability which is important for fine tuning your suspension setup with your wheels/tires to prevent any rubbing. And in the case you want to go really low for stance you’ll need the adjustability.
Miata NB Coilover Benefits
- Ride-height adjustability
- Better handling and performance
- Dampening adjustability (in more expensive options)
- More comfortable or smoother ride
- Inexpensive replacement for worn or old suspension
Replacing your stock suspension is going to cost you about the same as upgrading to coilovers. Also if you are still running on your stock suspension and haven’t replaced it, you will probably notice a massive improvement in handling, ride quality, and comfort. While coilovers are usually thought to be less comfortable, they are certainly a big improvement over old worn suspension.
So whether you are looking for track quality handling, a bit more street performance, serious drops or stance, or just looking to replace factory suspension, coilovers are the best way to go.
Best NB Miata Coilovers
The “best” coilovers really depend on what you are trying to do. 98% of our readers are probably looking for stance or just better street performance and just need an entry-level affordable coilover. But we don’t want to leave the 2% looking for track setups stranded. So we’re going to cover three different setups here: street and stance, hybrid street and track, and dedicated track.
In our opinion, if you aren’t building a track, autocross, or spec miata then there isn’t really any value in spending more than $500 on coilovers. Especially when considering they are going on a car that probably costs less than $5k in the first place. If you track, spend the money. And if you’re building a spec miata you need specific spec miata suspension so ignore the first few options.
- Best Budget Option – Raceland NB Miata Coilovers
- Street/Track Hybrid – BC Racing/Skunk 2/V-Maxx/Apexi N1
- Dedicated Track Coilovers – Ohlins/SpecMiata
NB Miata Coilovers Summary
Overall, the best coilover setups depend on your goals. For street driving or stance you are perfectly set with some twin-tube affordable coilovers that don’t offer dampening adjustability. You’ll also want moderate spring rates for a combination of comfort and performance. For this, Raceland is our favorite option.
Once we start talking about tracking your Miata is when we recommend spending a bit more money and getting mono-tube designs with adjustable dampening. These setups have stiffer spring rates but also have flexible dampening which make them versatile and good on both the street and track. Once we get into dedicated track setups, the cost of the coilovers gets close to the cost of some NB Miata’s.
At the end of the day, if you are just looking for street performance, lowering, or stance then sticking with a more entry-level and budget friendly option is the best way to go. Mono-tube, dampening, and stiffer spring rates aren’t needed for daily driving.
What coilovers are you running on your NB Miata?