ND Shift Indicator Rant

Rant time. Sorry everyone.

... epic fail.

… epic fail.

Let me start by saying how much I love my ND.

I love my ND.

Ramona is a fantastic car AND a fantastic Miata. In stock form, she’s every bit as fun as any Miata that ever rolled off the assembly line. It’s amazing how much the ND feels like an NA, just with more of everything. More power, more chassis rigidity, better suspension, more safety, more everything. It’s incredible. Mazda totally outdid themselves with this car.

And then they totally fucked it up with this goddamn annoying shift indicator light.

LOOK at the above picture for a moment. Study it. I’m doing 34 mph in FOURTH gear. I’m nearly lugging the engine as it is. It’s running under 2500 rpm, and yet that shift light wants me to go up to SIXTH GEAR!!!


“Holy shit Adam, how can you care about something so minor? Just ignore it.” You MIGHT say.

I’d love to ignore it. IF ONLY.

See, that indicator number changes around many times per minute. It could revert back to just showing “4” if I lift a bit. It shows a blank if I put in the clutch. It’ll maybe go back to showing 4>5 randomly. IT’S ALWAYS CHANGING. It makes it really fucking hard to ignore. And it’s BRIGHT. And the car is still new and I’m still paying attention to the lights.


I hate it. I hate it. I haaaate it!! That shift light is harshing my mellow in a huge way.

I’ve not owned a car with a shift indicator in… um… (counting)… since high school. (I’m old and that was a really long time ago, back in the early 90s.) I had an 87 Jeep Wrangler with a little shift light… and I hated it in that one too. One of the things I remember about buying Sharka (and every Miata since) was the lack of shift light. I loved that it didn’t have one. Because it’s a SPORTS CAR. It’s designed to have fun in. It’s not about miles per gallon, it’s SMILES per gallon.

But no. The shift light returns. The beast shows its ugly face again. And it’s WAAAY more annoying than it’s previous incarnation of a single light.



Your days are numbered, shift light. I’m gonna end you soon. And I’m gonna help the legions of other ND drivers get rid of you as well.

I love you, Mona. I hate your shift light.

Ramona's first fuel stop.

Ramona’s first fuel stop.

She’s one tank of gas to the good now. With luck, maybe that light will be sorted out by tank #2.

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  • Jason says:

    She’s just eager.

    I’m curious to see how you will address this.

  • Dustin says:

    Ive never seen you swear so much about something

  • Jerry says:

    You are a very composed guy. If its making you swear. It really must be that annoying. I feel you man. Like trying to watch a movie with a fly on the screen.LOL Mazda, don’t tell us how to drive our cars! Hope you get it figured out soon. Id like to see how you do it.

    • revlimiter says:

      I’m ashamed to admit I swear a ton in real life. But I read somewhere that those who swear a lot are more honest and happier with life in general. lol

      I’ve now got 2 ideas on how to fix it. Pretty excited.

  • Eric says:

    Well that does it for me. I’m not getting an ND.

  • Andrew says:

    When I first saw pics of the ND cluster, I was so excited that there would be a digital speed read out in the tach (just like the RX-8). When I found out it was a shift indicator, I was so disappointed.
    It is one of the only things I dislike about the ND, can’t wait to see your fix!!

    • revlimiter says:

      I too thought it was a speed readout at first. That would be FANTASTIC! The speedometer could then be almost completely ignored. Just glance at the tach (and speed in the lower corner).

      On test drives with earlier cars, I didn’t notice the upshift indication nearly so often. I don’t think I saw it at all on the 2016 I drove at the Million Miata event. I’m sure it was saying to upshift at some point, but I only remember it showing the current gear. I thought it was dumb but cute.

      Ramona’s shift indicator is not cute.

  • Richard Velardo says:

    I suppose that you could make new gauge faces and just blank out the corner where the shift light is and leave the light behind the gauge face. It’d be a good place for a nice graphic of some sort too.

    I agree, that reminder would be insulting to any driver with a lick of common sense.

  • John says:

    Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever read an angry Adam paragraph. You crafted a lot of cussing in this short blog. In fact, I think it’s the first time I’ve witnessed any Adam f-bombs

  • Ant says:

    One of the things I like about going back to older cars is not being nagged at with stuff like this.

    *However*, these Skyactiv engines can be *super* economical if you pay heed to stuff like the shift light. 2500rpm certainly isn’t lugging in a modern car – I can’t remember what 6th gear at 30mph would be (maybe 1500rpm or so?) but the engine’s perfectly happy at those revs in that gear.

    I know traffic conditions, location, all sorts of things dictate how different people drive in different places, but when I’m not driving deliberately for fun (which, sadly, seems to be quite frequently) it’s nice also having a car that won’t guzzle gas. “Mine” averaged 35mpg over 12 months and individual, boring trips were often over 40mpg. The shift light may be a nag, but it kinda knows what it’s talking about too.

  • Arthur Mayfield says:

    Eventually, I learned to ignore it, like I do the “lane departure warning disabled” and “stability control disabled” lights. It’s only there to suggest a gear for maximum fuel economy. Not appropriate for a sports car, but probably one of those little things that got the ND ULEV rating, which helps Mazda, so I’ll live with it. BTW, you aren’t even close to lugging the 2.0 Sky at 2500rpm. It can handle way lower than that and be perfectly happy, but not very responsive at low rpms and higher gears, of course. Enjoy your new car!

  • Jacey says:

    I’m glad the 124 doesn’t have this feature. It just tells you what gear you’re in and leaves you alone. The suggested gear thing would irk me to no end.

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