Engineers Mull More Rear-Wheel Drive Mazdas


The MX-5 Miata is currently the only rear-wheel drive Mazda.

Rear-Wheel Drive Mazdas

Mazda engineers recently called for an increase of vehicles making use of rear-wheel drive platforms. Since the Mazda RX-8 model was discontinued in 2011, the MX-5 Miata is the only automobile in Mazda’s line that is currently powered by rear-wheel drive. As front-wheel drive (FWD) cars are now most common on the road, Mazda of Lodi thought we would take the time to share some information on rear-wheel drive Mazdas.

Judging by the fact that the Mazda RX-8 and MX-5 utilize rear-wheel drive (RWD), it is safe to say that RWD is best suited for race and sports cars. Due to a rear weight shift, RWD cars can accelerate much more quickly than their front-wheel drive counterparts. When the gas pedal goes down on a RWD automobile, weight is shifted to the back wheels. The weight borne by the back tires increases traction and reduces the chance for the tires to spin freely. More rubber on the road means more engine power used to actually propel the car forward.

One disadvantage to RWD is the amount of passenger space needed to house powertrain components. Since the drive shaft must reach from the engine front all the way to the back tires, less space is available throughout the length of the car to devote to leg room and passenger space. RWD platforms are typically for racers though, so passenger space is not a common concern.


RX-8 joined Miata as a rear-wheel drive Mazda until its discontinuation in 2011.

What RWD vehicles lose in passenger space is conveniently made up for in the engine bay. FWD cars must house all of the active powertrain components up near the engine. This makes things incredibly crowded. RWD cars, however, have more spacious engine bays since drive components are spread between front and the rear. This means more room to tune for high performance.

There are many more advantages and disadvantages to RWD than we have time here to discuss. But stay tuned to the Mazda of Lodi blog for additional information on rear-wheel drive Mazdas and an upcoming post on the pros and cons of front-wheel drive.