2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Could Have An Upgraded Engine With 181 HP

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of the most affordable roadsters on the market but it has always favored nimble handling over big performance numbers.

The model currently has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine which develops 155 hp (115 kW) and 148 lb-ft (200 Nm) of torque. While that’s not bad considering the car weighs around 2,332 lbs (1,057 kg), it’s less powerful than the Fiat 124 Spider which has a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder developing 160 hp (119 kW) and 184 lb-ft (249 Nm) of torque.

Help could be on the way as Road and Track has unearthed a VIN filing which suggests the 2019 MX-5 could receive a major power boost. According to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the model will have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 181 hp (135 kW). If that figure pans out, it would be an increase of 26 hp (19 kW) and a jump of nearly 17 percent.

It remains unclear how Mazda will achieve this boost in performance but the publication notes the documents don’t mention a turbocharger or supercharger. Mazda has also said the MX-5 won’t receive the new SkyActiv-X engine so it is possible engineers have made significant changes to the current SkyActiv-G unit.

Nothing is official but the magazine says common aftermarket upgrades – including a new intake, exhaust and ECU – only add around 12 hp (9 kW). However, companies such as BBR have tuned the engine to produce up to 225 hp (167 kW).

Mazda declined to comment on the VIN filing but the current MX-5 is reaching middle age as the car was introduced in September of 2014. As a result, we can expect to see a facelift relatively soon and this would be the perfect time to introduce an upgraded engine.

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  • Yobobjm

    181hp should be totally doable on this car with a mild cam upgrade, a tune, and some other small changes here and there (just like BBR does). And none of that should meaningfully impact reliability or mpg, so I’m inclined/excited to believe this.

  • Soob

    Looking forward to seeing the facelift, Mazda normally does updates pretty well.

  • Honda NSX-R

    In before we see comments complaining about how Toyota and Subaru haven’t done any power increase with the 86/GT86/BRZ.

    • LWOAP

      No one is going to complain about those things. They’re pretty much written off at this point of ever receiving a performance upgrade. Might as well get a 2014 model and do it yourself.

      Personally, I’d still get a Scion TC over those things. 😉

      • TheVuvuzelanist


        • LWOAP

          Why on the Subie/Toyo twins or the Scion TC?

          • Yeah I’m curious on the tC tho?

          • LWOAP

            It’s cheap and it’s FWD. So if something goes wrong I won’t feel too bad about trashing it.

          • Ahh yeah, man makes me remember Super Street days. That car is a tuner favorite.

      • Frankly I don’t mind the lack of horsepower on Toyobaru twins, that type of cars were supposed to be cheap and simple. Also I think it’s more about cultural issue, Japanese car culture emphasizing on tuning, and this type of cars now has a lot of aftermarket parts.

        • Honda NSX-R

          I have a feeling that the Toyobarus were meant to be underpowered: so that they could get tuned like crazy. It’s like what the Nissan 240SX was

          • Yep, exactly what I thought. And I believe the car has tiny margin on profit. Because I remember 86 designer once said that convertible is not happening because the development cost itself can’t be recouped by sales alone.

    • willhaven

      I don’t think the 86 lacks power, but the torque curve is terrible. The infamous mid-range dip really hinders everyday performance.

      • Honda NSX-R

        I think the facelifted manual 86 doesn’t have a mid-range torque dip anymore.

        • Mill0048

          It’s there still, just lessened a bit. If nothing else, it’s worth getting the Open Flash UEL Header and tune combo to make the car feel like a 90’s screamer. No perceptible torque dip, extra couple hundred RPMs, more usable power and torque, and a great sound.

          • Honda NSX-R

            Yeah you’re right, I read that wrong.

  • flyfish

    While you are tweaking, could you lower the seat 2 inches? I have other requests, but this was a deal killer for me and probably a lot of people over 5’10”. You can put one of those newfangled seat height adjusters in for people who need to raised up…

    • Nordschleife

      I am 5’11 and I sat in it fine unless the RF version has more head room?

    • SteersUright

      Agreed. There needs to be more adjustability in the interior. Im 5’10” but broad shouldered and bigger build and found it a tad claustrophobic. Also, this is nitpicking, but for daily use, the road noise bordered on intolerable, from the top especially.

    • Mill0048

      Yeah, I’m 6’2″ and stare at my NB’s windshield frame unless crane my neck down to see below it (I even removed the sun visor).

  • Nordschleife

    I can’t believe this was introduced in 14’. Wow.

    • Obsequious Lickspittle

      Took a bit longer to get one, though.

  • I don’t mind with power upgrade and all… as long they didn’t increase the price, MX-5 was supposed to be affordable entry level cars. It seems a lot of hot hatch and sports car manufacturer forgot about this.

  • Increasing redline would messed up the fuel consumption and emissions, it’s easy if you are tuner but not that easy with manufacturer.

  • Six_Tymes

    im interested.

  • Wandering_Spirit

    180 would be just fine for that weight.

  • smartacus

    This means it is getting the Skyactiv-X engine.
    i found some interesting infotainment of it:
    HCCI don’t work, so they switched to SPCCI
    (gasoline hates behaving like a diesel)

    They swirl in a super-lean fuel/air mix
    too lean to ignite with a spark plug
    too low to compress like a diesel

    …so they squirt extra fuel right next to the spark plug
    just before the power stroke then spark ignite it.
    (the extra fuel stays trapped in the middle like a bird
    in the eye of a hurricane and doesn’t spread out)

    to give it that little bit of extra pressure
    and THAT starts the dieseling process.

    “flame spreads from the plug out and down,
    creating a pressure wave moving opposite the rising piston.”

    ahaa!! so it’s not the flame front from the spark
    plug combusting the primary air/fuel mix.

    you got a variable compression ratio engine
    like Infiniti’s complicated mechanical one.

    All you do is change the cylinder pressure
    by controlling the flame’s pressure wave
    by adjusting injection and spark-timing.

    • 6thGear

      SPCCI is HCCI with the spark plug controlling the point of ignition.

      • smartacus

        SPCCI is not HCCI.
        HC stands Homogenous Charge
        SPCCI is absolutely not homogenously Charged.

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