LOS ANGELES – Car enthusiasts in North America receive a special gift for the holidays as the Mazadaspeed MX-5 Miata makes its official debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show today. Shown briefly at the industry-only 2003 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in November, the vehicle will be seen for the first time by the general public in Los Angeles.
Fitted with a ball-bearing single-scroll turbocharger with 7.25 psi maximum boost and an air-to-air intercooler, the 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine now makes 178 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 166 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm, 25 and 33 percent more respectively than the normally aspirated Miata. To handle the extra power from the turbocharging system, the engine block is modified to accommodate the oil line for the turbo, the cooling system receives an increased radiator core volume with increased coolant capacity, the six-speed manual transmission, clutch and pressure plate, driveshaft and differential all have been optimized, and a Denso tube-fin air-to-air intercooler added. The piston shapes have also been modified to increase displacement volume in the cylinders and handle the extra fuel-air mixture provided by the turbocharger.
Keeping the Mazdaspeed MX-5 Miata cool as its turbocharged engine blazes are two additional oil cooler plate pieces, allowing the oil more time to cool before it recycles through the engine. Harder rubber is also used for the engine and differential mountings to account for increased torque and avoid flexing and wearing due to more extreme temperature changes under the hood.
These precise engine modifications, combined with a short-throw, six-speed gearbox with improved gear durability and Mazdaspeed sport-tuned and lowered suspension, makes for an amazingly quick and agile car. The already-able Miata chassis gets dropped 7mm in ride height through the use of red-painted, shorter springs with increased spring rates. Silver-painted, Mazdaspeed-tuned Bilstein dampers soak up vibration while larger front and rear stabilizer bars and a silver-painted front strut tower brace increase chassis rigidity and improve road-holding capability.
Mazda engineers meticulously tuned the suspension to get the most out of the turbocharged powerplant, deftly handling the brute power sent through the Bosch torque-sensing limited slip differential to the 17-inch Racing Hart aluminum alloy wheels shod with Toyo Proxes R28 205/40R17 80W high-performance tires (the first time a Miata has been offered with a 17-inch wheel and tire package). Mazdaspeed MX-5 Miata also receives a quicker steering ratio since the rack stroke was reduced more than 7mm from Miata’s. All four corners receive silver-painted brake calipers and ABS.
The exterior, colored in either Velocity Red Mica or Titanium Gray Metallic and subtly tattooed with Mazdaspeed and MX-5 badging, sports smoked headlamps and a unique front under-spoiler with recessed fog lamps. From the back, a rear under-spoiler, rear deck spoiler and large exhaust tip with Mazdaspeed logo is the last image most other cars on the road will see.
Mazdaspeed MX-5 Miata is set to go on sale in select North American markets in spring 2004.