Saturday, June 23, 2018

The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata is getting more horsepower. And we approve.

Red 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Roadster
Photo: Mazda USA Newsroom.
Ah, Miata. The car that, in spite of sometimes being maligned as a “chick-mobile” or “secretary’s car,” has earned a reputation as the world’s best selling roadster, the world’s most raced car, and the universal solution to how an enthusiast on a budget can gain entry into ownership of a true sports car.

Even with its ubiquitous presence as a track car for everyman, Miata has never had pretensions of having supercar-caliber power. Mazda USA, in their press release announcing Miata’s revisions for the 2019 model year, readily admits that the MX-5 Miata “has never been about power; it’s a car whose sole purpose is to help the driver and passenger fall in love with driving.”

That’s an apt description, but it’s also easy for the uninitiated to underestimate Miata’s performance capabilities—especially when some well-chosen tuning modifications enter the picture.

All that said, one of the key revisions Mazda is spotlighting for the 2019 MX-5 Miata is a 17 percent boost in horsepower for the SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter powerplant, an increase to 181 horsepower at 7,000 rpm, with 151 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. In keeping with today’s trend, the redline has also increased, from 6,800 to 7,500 rpm.

Granted, by today’s ever-increasing horsepower standards, 181 horsepower is no longer anything to write home about, even for a two-liter engine. That said, it’s important to remember that, with a Mazda MX-5 Miata, we’re talking about a car that’s relatively light.

The 2018 model, for instance, tips the scales with a curb weight of  2,332 to 2,381 pounds. Mazda says that the performance enhancements for 2019 added only 7 pounds. So we’re still looking at a weight at which 180 horsepower gives you plenty to work with for most driving situations—even on a track, unless you’re looking to do some serious competitive racing, at which time the option of looking at tuning mods is worth a look.

Just don’t try that at home with a brand new one that you’re paying for monthly, unless you’re fully informed on what the warranty implications could be.

The Miata revision for 2019 doesn’t include significant design changes. But we can live with that. Mazda has been doing a bang-up job on design across their lineup, and their current look still has some good years left in it.

Among the few cosmetic tweaks for the 2019 Miata are an available brown canvas soft top, new black metallic 17-inch wheels, a telescoping steering wheel with 30mm of travel, and revised cupholders and seat levers.

Safety enhancements for the new model year include a rearview camera and additional options for i-ACTIVESENSE safety technology, such as traffic sign recognition and “Smart City Brake Support.”

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