Following a prototype first drive in Mazda’s native Japan, Japanese publication CarWatch has spilled the beans on some significant changes that are likely to be destined for an updated production version later in the year.
Headlining the update is a heavily revised version of the 2.0-litre atmo four-cylinder that currently powers the most potent version of the iconic two-seater, with lighter pistons and conrods, a larger throttle body and exhaust valves, bigger bore exhaust and dual-mass flywheel resulting in a 15 percent power increase from 118kW to 137kW.
Torque gets a more modest 5.0Nm increase to 205Nm but, importantly, maximum power now peaks at 7500 rpm, up from 6800 rpm. Many fans of the smaller-engined 1.5-litre MX-5 favour the free-revving nature of its engine, but this latest revelation suggests the bigger sibling is now just as happy to spin up.
Along with the engine mods, the development vehicle was also kitted out with revised rear suspension, says CarWatch, with softer bushings for improved steering feel.
Inside, the MX-5 now has two-way adjustable steering wheel, with telescoping adjustment possible along with the existing tilt movement, for an improved driving position.
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No exterior design changes are mentioned, but the prototype revealed may be a mechanical mule, with a subtle facelift under wraps at this stage and reserved for the complete production model.
Mazda has not confirmed the changes for a showroom version anywhere in the world, but this first glimpse seems highly indicative of a 2019 MX-5 that will be heading to a dealership near you.
An update of the MX-5 on local turf is also yet to be confirmed, but Mazda Australia public relations senior manager Sonia Singh said the 2016 Wheels Car of the Year followed the same lifecycle as all models, and official news was not far off.
“We have a minor update to any of our nameplates 12 to 18 months on rotation,” she said. “We haven’t confirmed this update for our market as of yet … hopefully we’ll have something to share in the next few months.
“I wouldn’t be able to say we are 100 percent interested in this update that’s been announced in Japan, but we’re always interested in making sure we’ve got the latest.”
With two engines on offer, the latest generation MX-5 received less criticism for being underpowered compared with some of its affordable small-sportscar rivals, said Singh.
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And while a more potent 2.0-litre version is likely to attract an audience of its own, Singh confirmed that the 1.5-litre MX-5 is holding its own with a different kind of customer.
“The 1.5 still holds the heart of a lot of purists so that hasn’t been something we needed to rectify”.