Mazda has historically never deviated from the core philosophy of lightness and agility in its MX-5. And despite the fringe calls to shove in a turbocharger, this 4th-generation car has stuck to its small capacity, naturally aspirated engines and thus earned praise for its rewarding, nimble drive.
Should this document filing with the American NHTSA (National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, first reported by Road and Track, prove an accurate foretelling of a future MX-5 spec, the little roadster is soon to receive its biggest power bump….ever.
For the 2019 model year, not many equipment or variant changes are expected to hit. However, in these papers, the 2.0-litre SkyActiv engine was given a substantially beefier output over the expected 155hp. Instead, it would produce a more welcome 181hp, or 135kW, roughly a 17 percent increase.
For the purposes of this article, let’s explore some possible routes Mazda might have taken to significantly raise the output of their SkyActiv-G 2.0-litre. First of all, we should address the fact that the 2.5-litre version of the same engine (as found in the Mazda6, among others) produces a near identical output.
It could be that the displacement was in error and that Mazda simply plans to fit the 2.0-litre’s bigger brother under the MX-5’s bonnet as part of the car’s 2019 update. Another possibility is that Mazda is fitting a discreet turbocharger or supercharger to the mix, one that would subtly improve low-end grunt and result in a mild increase in peak power.
The quick-spooling nature of the forced induction turbine would mean that lag would be kept at a bare minimum while engine response can feel nearly as sensitive as a normal naturally aspirated motor would.
One other possibility is that Mazda will simply be offering the same 2.0-litre atmospheric four-cylinder petrol with a more aggressive tune to eek out that extra 24kW. However, such an alteration could negatively impact fuel economy, and it’s unclear if Mazda would deem that a worthy compromise.
Mazda’s new line of engines, called SkyActiv-X, uses an innovative cylinder compression method to ignite (with the help of a spark plug) the air fuel mixture for a leaner burn, more power and fewer emissions while using less fuel. It’s planned debut will be in the next-generation Mazda3 hatch, but all indications seem to paint the picture of a Mazda hesitant to use it in the MX-5 we have presently.