Mazda is launching a revised MX-5 next month (August 2018). While the visual changes are modestly limited to colour options for wheels and roof, enthusiasts won’t care because the world’s best-selling roadster has been improved where it matters: driver appeal.
The big news is a revised Skyactiv-G 2.0-litre engine. This enjoys a substantial power hike from 160hp to 184hp, which Mazda has achieved through the most old school of tuning tweaks: raising the rev limit.
And not by just a modest amount, either.
The 2.0-litre now revs to a dizzy 7,500rpm, which is up from the 6,800rpm of today’s car. The boosted power is actually delivered at 7,000rpm, so Mazda perhaps didn’t need to engineer an extra 500rpm of revs on top, but we’re delighted that it did (particularly as strengthening any engine to cope with sustained high revs is neither easy nor cheap).
Torque is up too, by an almost entirely irrelevant 4lb ft. The MX-5 produces a relatively weedy 151lb ft of pulling power at 4,000rpm (in contrast to its turbocharged Fiat 124 Spider cousin), but this doesn’t matter to true MX-5 drivers because they’re rarely pulling so few revs anyway.
The 2019 MX-5 isn’t just racier, though. It’s also more honest, because Mazda has homologated both 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre engines to be compliant with the new WLTP/RDE fuel economy test cycle. This is where the marginally greater torque comes in, and Mazda says the acceleration control has also been revised to ensure there’s less lag between pressing the accelerator and the engine responding.
It’s added new safety tech as well, focused on active safety. Now available are advanced smart city brake support (which works both forwards and in reverse gear), driver attention alert, traffic sign recognition and a rear-view camera (which is now mandatory on all new cars in the United States).
In 2015, the MX-5 scored four Euro NCAP stars. Since then, the safety organisation has stepped up its active safety demands: the revised car should thus at least maintain this score.
Oh, and those new wheels and hood colours? There’s a darker paint finish on 16-inch and 17-inch alloys, and a new brown roof colour for the soft-top. That’s it. But who cares, when the 2.0-litre can now rev to 7,500rpm?
Prices and performance details of the new MX-5 will be revealed closer to market launch from August. Can’t wait that long? Perhaps £1,500 towards the deposit on the current one may sway you to give up that 7,500rpm red line…