Mazda MX-5 Finally Has The Power It Deserves

from Car & Driver by Joseph Capparella

We have cared a lot about the Mazda MX-5 Miata for nearly three decades. So, too, have the thousands of loyal Miata owners who race their cars, modify their cars, and take them to Miata Club meets. But do you know who cares about the Miata even more? Mazda. The little roadster truly is the company’s pride and joy, a North Star doubling as its philosophical center.
Price creep with performance goodies, noisy on the highway.
Thus, it isn’t surprising that Mazda is both steadfast about keeping the Miata true to its original missive and always looking for ways to make it better. The precedent of continuous improvement could be seen in the first three generations of MX-5, each of which received tweaks throughout its life cycle. It’s now time for the current, fourth-generation Miata (ND to the cognoscenti) to get better; for 2019, that means a revised 2.0-liter inline-four Skyactiv engine.

More Oomph for 2019

Previously, the ND Miata was powered by a 2.0-liter inline-four that was little more than a Mazda 3 engine turned longitudinally and stuffed into the MX-5’s small engine bay. Vehicle dynamics engineer Dave Coleman admits that the car was originally designed around the less powerful 1.5-liter four-cylinder that’s available in other markets and that by the time the decision was made to install a bigger engine in the Miata bound for the United States, it was too late to truly fine-tune the 2.0-liter for a sports-car application. Of course, the engine itself was hardly a dud—responsive and eager, it made the current car quicker than any Miata before it in our testing despite its meager 155 horsepower.

Acceleration Numbers Don’t Tell the Whole Story

Mazda even cares enough about the Miata to address small details. The 2019 car now has a telescoping steering wheel, which was engineered to give taller drivers an easier reach to the wheel while adding a minimum of weight. Despite its more complex mechanism, the new function adds only about half a pound to the waifish Miata’s curb weight. A backup camera is also newly standard in accordance with federal regulations. These new features, along with some extra weight in the engine, add up to a claimed weight gain of just seven pounds overall. We measured the 2019 car at 2345 pounds—21 pounds heavier than our long-term Club—with much of that disparity attributable to the extra weight of the Recaro seats that are newly available as part of the pricey Brembo/BBS package that can drive the softtop’s price to a rather dear $35,000-plus (exact pricing is forthcoming), while the 2019 RF can approach $40,000. Expect a bare-bones 2019 Miata softtop to start around $26,500.

From a big-picture perspective, though, the Miata remains a unique proposition: a lightweight, simple sports car that succeeds in placing driving pleasure above all other considerations. It has changed so little over the years that we almost wonder if Mazda is being too faithful to the MX-5 ideal for its own good. And yet, that such a small automaker has taken such painstaking care to maintain the ethos of a car that today presents such a difficult business case is telling. The Miata is hardly for everyone, but everyone should be able to appreciate that it not only still exists but that it keeps getting better.

Technical Section – Q & A’s – Upkeep Hints

Please note: Questions and answers are provided for information and advice purposes. No liability either express or implied is assumed by reliance on the information presented either by the writers or the MC.

Some or all of the below is from our Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/mazdaclubusa. This is just a part of what appears there and in the member magazine.

Also be sure to see our Facebook group for immediate help from fellow members.

Q:     I recently purchased a used 2008 Mazda 3 (manual transmission) with about 120,00 miles on it. Sometimes, when I attempt to shift from 2nd to 3rd, the gearshift sticks, and I’m unable to shift into 3rd. I have to pull over and repeatedly jiggle the gearshift to pop it out of second gear. Also, when stopped, I’ve sometimes had trouble putting the car into 1st. And, overall, shifting from 1st to 2nd is a little rough. The brake/clutch fluid is topped off, so it’s not that. And the clutch itself seems fine. Any ideas ?

LX Classic

A:     The solution to your issue is one of the three following things (ranked from most to least likely):

A new clutch. While the clutch material may well still have some life in it, the two halves of the disk have started to separate and they are still partially engaged even when you push the pedal all of the way to the floor.

A Clutch Master Cylinder and/or Clutch Slave Cylinder starting to fail. In this scenario, even when you push the pedal all of the way to the floor, the clutch pressure plate doesn’t fully release, and as with Option 1, the clutch disk is still partially engaged.

Low hydraulic fluid in the Clutch Master Cylinder. It could be you are pumping (or have pumped) some air into the hydraulic clutch line, and the air is compressing instead of pushing on the pressure plate to open it up all of the way. The clutch disk is still partially engaged.

Shio

Mazda Xedos 6 Review

Engine: 1.6L B6-9/B6-E I4
Transmission: 5 speed Manual

First Look:

I guess I have a bit of an obsession scouring eBay looking for decent and road worthy cars that are a little bit unique for a budget of £500 or below.

To be honest, there are plenty of cars around, but few quite as rare as one of my current steeds; the Xedos 6. Even more so because of the engine and transmission found in my particular car.

I was not even looking for a Mazda, I was doing my typical pastime of just seeing what was out in the market.

I already have a very useable and infinitely reliable 1998 one owner Camry (2.2L auto) on my driveway that is not rare in many parts of the world, but here just 248 grace the roads.

Buyers in the UK just do not like slab sided large cars that have no badge kudos, particularly maroon ones with a beige leather interior riding on 15 inch steelies. Or, at least, just one person did who owned it from new for nearly 20 years.

However, I like its simple design, big comfy ride and that lazy auto box. Plus, you just never see any on our roads.

Mainstream manufacturers such as Ford and Vauxhall left the large sized car market to the prestigious German brands that now litter the roads.

Yet, when I spied the Xedos I wasn’t quite sure if it was a grey JDM import. While I have never had a Mazda previously I was aware of their 3, 6, MX5, RX8 and even the MX6 which graced out shores back in the nineties.

I did a quick bit of background research and couldn’t really find a great deal although that this was released as a bit of a compact exec car which had two engines available in the UK; a 2L v6 with an auto and the much rarer 1.6L manual.

It was marketed under the Eunos brand as the Eunos 500 in some other markets and there was also a 1.8L v6 as well as a 1.8L I4 available, too.

While doing a bit of research my main fear was rust, rust can plague cars in the UK but most manufacturers have this under control now, but Mazda has been a little less than competent at rust proofing which has been a reason behind me never buying an MX5.

Either way, thinking how much the front of the car resembled a MX6 I threw in a low ball offer of £300 unseen. About 4 hours later my offer was accepted.

The next day I caught a train to nearby Huddersfield (I live in Leeds) then trudged through the snow for about 1 hour trying to find the address that it was holed up in.

Whenever I am looking for a car online, and in most cases I buy unseen, I try to understand what sort of place or home the car comes from by examining the photographs as best as possible for clues.

However, this didn’t give away much so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the address was actually a car dealer and the car was just to the rear of the yard.

I met the vendor who was a nice guy who told m the car had come in a few months ago as a part exchange, the vendor ran it for a while purely as a curiosity but was now bored of it so wanted to let it go.

He gave me the key and brushed the snow off, I then started the car. It fired up immediately from cold and settled in to an almost inaudible idle.

Just to satisfy myself of any rust queries I ran my bare hand along the sills and wheel arches to find no flaky or sharp edges. All seemed fine.

Satisfied with it I handed over the £300 and headed off in to the dark, snowy abyss.

Now my first impressions were how small the car really is, how low it seems and considering the 99,000 miles on the clock I was amazed that the interior was in pretty much flawless condition.

When heading home in the snow the front drive layout worked well, although the narrow track meant that I was carving my own route in to the snow which saw me snake a bit on the motorway.

Driving and Performance:

So, my meagre research prior to collection was that this car was to compete with the likes of the BMW 3 series which is more popular than a Ford Mondeo.

I learnt that the Xedos brand was meant to be a luxury sub-brand to Mazda as Lexus is to Toyota.

Now, I have had two 3 series’ in the past, a Lexus IS200 as well as an X-type Jag plus a couple of  Mercedes’ plus a multitude of other cars that I buy then tend to sell on for a small profit or break even a few months later which gives me a bit of an insight in to different brands and their quality.

So, it is understandable that Mazda mainly fit the Xedos 6 with a v6 and an auto transmission, and, by all accounts that 2.0L v6 with just under 150hp on tap is a good performer.

The smattering of reviews I could find online said that the 1.6L was underpowered with just 114hp spinning those front wheels.

However, the car is petite, and, actually would work well just as a two door coupé, the additional doors for rear passengers look like mere add ons to cater for an additional market.

Yet, it is the small dimensions that seem to work well with the 1.6L engine and that super slick manual gear box.

I tend to use the car mostly for around the city I live in with occasional motorway use, but it fits well up the narrow streets and the engine is buzzy with an eagerness to rev smoothly through the rev range.

In fact, I would say that engine is a peach which I believe has been used in the MX5, it just wants you to extract that power.

The handling is also great. It pulls you tightly around corners and I wonder how the additional weight from the v6 would affect its taught handling on its tiny 14 inch alloy wheels.

The ride is firm but not overly, I find it very comfortable to be in and while I have not had it up to its claimed 114mph top speed it sits at 4000rpm at 80mph with a red line of 6500rpm.

I also wonder whether it would benefit much with rear wheel drive but I rear the lack of useable space in the cabin and boot would be hampered even more so.

Overall I find the handling is well suited to that excellent engine and sublime gear change.

Behind the Wheel:

If there was ever a case against the Xedos 6 as a luxury car it would be down to the lacklustre interior.

It simply does not compete with the luxury car’s of its period. The design is more akin to that of a mainstream marque such as a Toyota. There appears to have been no real effort to chase down those European exec cars.

My model is quite basic so does away with air conditioning or even a CD player but has an electric sunroof and all the windows are electric including the mirrors which bring me on to another point later.

The seats are also comfortable and just have enough lateral support on the bolster to be on the right side of sporty.

However, the interior design is dreary at best with very cheap feeling and looking switchgear which does not compare well to even some of the most sombre efforts of the German brands.

That said, everything still work…

And, there are a couple of subtle hints to the higher echelons of luxury, the wing mirrors are different sizes a subtle nod to the engineering behind cars like the Mercedes 190. Furthermore, multifunction indicator stalk is similar to that found in Mercedes cars, too.

Another area of build quality that I found interesting is the door seals. I have not seen anything so robust as that found in a Lexus or the granite type Mercedes from the 1980’s.

Road noise and engine noise is absolutely minimal.

The steering wheel is large enough to be found on a battleship and the gear stick tall enough for a truck, but both feel positive in their actions and even at this age and mileage feel tight.

Which brings me on to how well everything has held up over the years.

Both cases of BMW and Mercedes ownership has seen the interior wear out sooner than this sort of mileage but the Xedos 6 would look almost brand new after a clean.

The exterior paint work also looks incredible to this day and has not suffered from stone chips.

I wouldn’t normally sit in the back, but on one occasion when my partner picked me up from the pub I decided to sit there and found it very comfortable.

Economy and Running Costs:

I find that on average I get about 36mpg (UK gallon) which is not too bad considering the age of the car and that I like to run it through the gears with most driving being urban with little motorway use.

However, other than fuel, I have not needed to spend any further money. Insurance is cheap and nothing has gone wrong.

My only worry is that due to the little number of these cars on the road that should I require any replacement parts there won’t be any available or they will be expensive making the car uneconomical to repair.

However, the wheel are small and the tyres when up for replacement will be cheap and a oil plus filter change is coming out at under £40.

Verdict:

A quick check found that there are only 143 Xedos 6 cars on the road in the UK.

This means what I have on my hands is a very rare car, but one that was largely ignored for reasons that would normally been badge related.

It seemed Mazda couldn’t compete with the European luxury cars, not on quality and engineering but purely on design and those interior materials.

I really like this car. I love the way is handles and drives, I like the sleek and coupe like body and I cannot help but admire the engineering touches that do set this apart from even those big brands.

However, when you sit inside the car it is so far of the mark that even brands such as Peugeot or Ford from that era feel more special.

Yet, I cannot help but fall for the way its solid and taught body  feels when you lower yourself in to the light and airy cabin, or the way that buzzy engine freely revs up to the red line while you then slot in another gear with the light clutch and smooth change.

I cannot help but feel that I have picked up the bargain of the century.

Ben Bunting

Mazda Gives More Details On Its Future Rotary Engine

Mazda will pair a rotary range extender as an option to an electric drivetrain

It’s been six years since Mazda sold a rotary-powered car in the United States, and the Japanese automaker has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the engine technology since then. Now it seems Mazda is willing to apply the rev-happy Dorito motor to a new efficient solution: as a range extender in an electric car.
Martijn ten Brink, Vice President of Sales and Customer Service of Mazda Motor Europe, confirmed further details on the EV in an interview with Dutch AutoRAI (via Motor Authority).

As governments globally plan the regulatory phase out of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, Mazda is diving into electric drivetrains. “Under the name Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 we have outlined a complete future plan,” said Martijn in the interview. “An electric car has also been included in that plan.” Electric vehicles still come with the challenges of more limited range versus their gasoline and diesel counterparts, so Mazda will employ the rotary engine as a range extender for the new electric vehicle. “Optionally we supply the electric car with a range extender in the form of a wankel engine. This is mainly to take away any concerns from customers,” Martijn said.

An electric vehicle with a rotary range extender has been the worst-kept secret in the industry in recent months. Mazda North American president Masahiro Moro reiterated his desire for the engine’s return in January for both sports cars and cleaner options. “That could be a very environmentally friendly engine,” Moro said. “Or the rotary engine could be a generator to generate electricity. So we have a lot of opportunity for the rotary engine.” The latest report says the rotary will be used in conjunction with Mazda’s Small Car Platform, which underpins the Mazda2, CX-3, and Mazda3, with the new vehicle likely to take on a crossover form.

It’ll also be a small displacement, single-rotor engine, similar to the one used in the 2013 Mazda2 TPEV concept, probably measuring in at around 330 cc (0.33 liters).

Mazda Might Give the MX-5 Miata 26 More Horsepower For 2019

from RoadandTrack.oom

Regulatory documents suggest the 2019 MX-5 Miata will go from 155 horsepower to 181, a huge power increase for the lightweight sports car.

The Mazda MX-5 has been widely hailed as a return to the original formula: a great-handling, lightweight car. It’s also been criticized by some for only having 155 horsepower. Mazda has repeatedly stated that it will focus on making the car faster by cutting more weight, but a new VIN filing shows that the MX-5 might also get a significant horsepower bump for the 2019 model year.

A document filed with NHTSA on February 27th shows that the MX-5 will continue to offer the trim levels we’re familiar with and a 2.0-liter engine, but the power rating has changed from 155 horsepower to 181. This would constitute a power increase of 17 percent—the biggest jump for any version of the naturally-aspirated SkyActiv-G motor.

The horsepower increase is shown on Page 3 of the document, embedded here:

Naturally, we’re a bit skeptical that such a power increase is possible: currently, the most powerful version of the 2.0L SkyActiv-G produces 162 horsepower in some overseas versions of the Mazda3; the VIN document that references the assumed Miata power increase does not list any power adders such as a turbo or supercharger. Our first thought is that the MX-5 might be getting the SkyActiv-X engine which Mazda states will make in excess of 180 horsepower in 2.0-liter form, but Mazda has said in the past that the MX-5 would not get this innovative compression-ignition gasoline engine anytime soon.

This gap in deployment of the SkyActiv-X engine might actually explain the power bump. The MX-5 will be due for a refresh soon, and engineers might be working on squeezing out a bit more power if they plan to continue using the SkyActiv-G engine. Adding 26 horsepower to that engine will be no easy task: it will likely require changes to make the motor breathe easier while staying emissions compliant. The most common aftermarket upgrades to intake, exhaust, and computer only add about 12 horsepower to the current engine. There are a few tuning packages that bump the engine over the 180 horsepower mark, but they require extensive mods including new camshafts and intake manifolds.

Mazda has done similar upgrades to previous generations of engines, like the 2.0-liter MZR of the last-generation MX-5 which debuted at 136 horsepower in some models but was tuned to go as high as 167 horsepower in others. Mazda has stated it doesn’t plan to offer a turbo version of the current car, as it would require significant weight-adding drivetrain alterations that would deviate from the current car’s lightweight formula. This might be another reason for a breathed-on version of the current engine, as the jump to 181 horsepower would likely not require upgrades to the transmission, rear differential, or wheel bearings—the weight increase would be minimal.

We asked Mazda for comment on the document but their representative stated that they could not speculate on future products. While this is a common response for products that have not yet been revealed, it gives us some hope that the number in the document is not a mistake, since it was not immediately pointed out as such.

While most of us here at R&T believe that 155 horsepower is plenty for a car as light as the MX-5, we can all appreciate that this apparent power bump would make the Miata even more fun on the road and the track.

New Turbocharged Mazda6

The Mazda6 never needed much. It looked awesome, was a lot of fun to drive and even came with a manual gearbox. It only ever really lacked one thing: power. Now the 2018 Mazda6 is here with the turbocharged 2.5-liter turbo engine from the CX-9, and it may just be the best front-drive midsize sedan on the market now.

In addition, it’s more “premium” now. That’s a buzzword that gets thrown around way too much, but Mazda’s doing this for a reason. It’s a tiny company, all things considered. It’s hard for Mazda to compete with giants like Ford and Toyota and Honda. So the answer is to go more upscale, to make cars more profitable by making them nicer and, yes, somewhat more expensive.

So the result is that the updated Mazda6—as well as the CX-9 and others—occupy a weird space between a mass-market brand and a true luxury one. But there’s nothing wrong with that, especially when the cars look great and cater to enthusiasts

Here’s what’s new. The updated 6 isn’t a new car, but a heavy update. Improvements include a retuned chassis for a better ride and less noise, vibration and harshness, more tech features and a heavily revised interior with available Nappa leather and wood accents.

Now, the real goodness is under the hood: a 2.5-liter turbo four with 250 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque from just 2,000 RPM. Those are the power figures we’ve always craved from the 6, a superb driver’s car in every aspect but its anemic engine—until now. A six-speed automatic is standard there.

The base engine is still a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four with 184 HP, and that can still be had with a manual. Sadly the more powerful turbo engine cannot. That’s a shame, because this car would be rad as hell with the beefy turbo motor and a stick. Oh well.

The 2018 Mazda6 goes on sale in spring 2018 and pricing has not been announced yet, but expect a bump over the outgoing car’s $21,495 base price.

Auto Insurance

The auto insurance industry is not easy to navigate. There are so many factors to consider when shopping for a provider that car owners often get lost in (or cheated by) the fine print.

On behalf of consumers, a team of researchers at Reviews.com set out to identify the auto insurance providers that rise to the top, “based on their ability to serve customers and actually pay out claims; not just on premium cost.” Take a look at their helpful guide here: https://www.reviews.com/auto-insurance/

They started with 41 of the nation’s top auto insurance companies. These are the factors they considered in their comprehensive review:

  1. Financial solvency
  2. Claims processing
  3. Coverage options
    1. New car replacement
    2. GAP insurance
    3. Uninsured motorist coverages
  4. Discounts
  5. Customer support

Their guide not only provides their overall favorite auto insurance providers based on the above considerations, but also offers recommendations tailored to your personal needs – whether you’re a pet owner, veteran, on a budget, or…a classic car owner! (They recommend Grundy) Find their research process, recommendations, and purchasing tips here.

2017 Mazda CX-9

We all want a luxury SUV but the fact of the matter is, not all of us can afford one. The 2017 Mazda CX-9 however, happens to offer the very thing you want but without the expensive price tag. Of course, nothing is really perfect and some things have to be sacrificed to get what you want most. Here’s what you should know about the 2017 Mazda CX-9.

Here’s the deal, the 2017 Mazda CX-9 is built on the same Kodo “Soul of Motion” platform as its CX-3 and CX-5 siblings. This gives the 2017 Mazda CX-9 a gorgeous look starting with its open-mouthed chrome grille along with LED grille accent lighting that makes it standout during the night. In addition, it also has expensive fog lights and LED headlights that basically give the front section a seductive look. According to Forbes, the 2017 Mazda CX-9 also has a strong shoulder that extends from the front to the rear section. Simply put, the 2017 Mazda CX-9 has an elegant look that satisfies any pair of eyes that look at it.

The interior of the 2017 Mazda CX-9 is just as attractive as the exterior. The 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature in particular has all sorts of luxurious inputs from genuine rosewood that envelope the dashboard and other finishing touches that simply make the 2017 Mazda CX-9 scream luxury. As for the control panels, Mazda has kept things rather simple, which is probably a good move because it simply makes the luxuriousness stand out more. Reading about it may not seem very impressive but sitting in the cabin tells a different story.

The power aspect of the 2017 Mazda CX-9 would probably be something you will not be very excited with. According to report, the 2017 Mazda CX-9 is equipped with a new SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine that is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with Sport and manual-shift modes. This engine is capable of putting out 250 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Compared to the other SUVs in the market, there are certainly a lot with more power but you will also have to pay a higher price for them.

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