Zoom-Zoom: Mazda MX-5 Gets More Power and a Higher Redline for 2019

zoom zoom mazda mx 5 gets more power and a higher redline for 2019

Affectionately known as the Miata, Mazda’s MX-5 roadster is a throwback to an era when fun cars were simple. While its evolution included obligatory tech and safety updates, that’s about all the manufacturer added. The recipe for the spry little convertible has always been to deliver a mechanically simple, lightweight, and sporting automobile that adheres to the regulatory mandates of its era.

The end result is a reasonably reliable and totally livable sports car that can be driven enthusiastically at moderate speeds, delivering a pleasurable experience for less than $26,000. It may lack the amenities and passenger occupancy of a larger automobile, but it’s better than a motorcycle — and serves a similar purpose in an infinitely more practical way. Like any sport bike, you purchase the Miata for the visceral and engaging experience it provides. You just have to pay a little more for the benefit of being able hide from mother nature while you’re flicking down the backroads.

If the MX-5 has a single shortcoming, it’s that it is debatably down on power. While many would argue that its sub-2,400 pound curb weight makes the 151-horsepower 2.0-liter more than adequate for delivering a good time, there are vehicles in Miata’s price range that are faster in a straight line. Mazda seems to have a solution to this problem.

According to a recent test drive of the company’s MX-5 RF Prototype by Car Watch, which Road & Track was the first to spot, the automaker looks to be providing 26 extra ponies for the 2019 model. This confirms Bozi Tatarevic’s previous discovery of a VIN filing denoting the new Miata would make 181 horsepower next year.

The article goes into great detail as to how Mazda worked its magic on the SkyActiv-G motor to coax out the additional power. Valve timing and spring tension were recalibrated, pistons and connecting rods were lightened, and there’s now a larger throttle body. Mazda also modified the crankshaft, while chucking on a new low-inertia flywheel — and that’s just the big stuff.

There are loads of improvements on the updated 2.0-liter and the end result is faster rotation and more power. All told, the prototype RF made 181 horsepower and 151 foot-pounds with a 7,500-rpm redline. Considering Mazda obsessively talks about how it needs to save more weight on the 2019 MX-5, we expect the changes to be transformative. This will be a significantly faster roadster.

The prototype also included some new colors and the telescoping steering wheel we mentioned earlier this year. As is to be expected, Mazda can’t confirm anything at this time. But we reckon the details outlined above are correct and it’s just a matter of time before the automaker verifies the zoom-zoom in an official capacity.

[Images: Mazda]

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  • JuniperBug JuniperBug on Jun 12, 2018

    While my NB would get old in a hurry if I had to commute in it, just today I enjoyed it once again taking it into the country (where my girlfriend and I are buying a house). If you're in the mood, working the throttle and shifter to keep up and slightly overtake other traffic is good fun. It feels more rewarding - and less illegal - than when I had high powered sport bikes and hitting 100 MPH felt like nothing. At one point I had to make a tight U-turn; full throttle and a clutch dump made short work of that. A Miata will never measure up if you're comparing it to practical things or, for the most part, spec sheets. It isn't impressively fast (although 6 seconds is nothing to sneeze at) unless you're on a tight winding road. What it is is great fun as a driver's car, and even my 8 second 0-60 version is fun. By comparison, the current ND is serious business. If you judge the Miata before driving one, you don't really have a way of understanding what makes it great.

  • Yuppie Yuppie on Jun 12, 2018

    I wonder if my local Mazda dealer will sell me one at a reasonable price (e.g., halfway between invoice and MSRP) or jack up the price since the 2019 is the new "powerful" model. Maybe it is time to re-learn how to drive a manual!

    • See 3 previous
    • Fighter835 Fighter835 on Jun 13, 2018

      @TMA1 Me as well. It's just baffling to me how Mazda can make a small, fun sports-car and not offer any fun colors on it. I want my greens, blues, and yellows!

  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.
  • Dlc65688410 Please stop, we can't take anymore of this. Think about doing something on the Spanish Pegaso.
  • MaintenanceCosts A few bits of context largely missing from this article:(1) For complicated historical reasons, the feds already end up paying much of the cost of buying new transit buses of all types. It is easier legally and politically to put capital funds than operating funds into the federal budget, so the model that has developed in most US agencies is that operational costs are raised from a combination of local taxes and fares while the feds pick up much of the agencies' capital needs. So this is not really new spending but a new direction for spending that's been going on for a long time.(2) Current electric buses are range-challenged. Depending on type of service they can realistically do 100-150 miles on a charge. That's just fine for commuter service where the buses typically do one or two trips in the morning, park through the midday, and do one or two trips in the evening. It doesn't work well for all-day service. Instead of having one bus that can stay out from early in the morning until late at night (with a driver change or two) you need to bring the bus back to the garage once or twice during the day. That means you need quite a few more buses and also increases operating costs. Many agencies are saying for political reasons that they are going to go electric in this replacement cycle but the more realistic outcome is that half the buses can go electric while the other half need one more replacement cycle for battery density to improve. Once the buses can go 300 miles in all weather they will be fine for the vast majority of service.(3) With all that said, the transition to electric will be very good. Moving from straight diesel to hybrid already cut down substantially on emissions, but even reduced diesel emissions cause real public health damage in city settings. Transitioning both these buses and much of the urban truck fleet to electric will have measurable and meaningful impacts on public health.