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.