The 2016 Mazda Won't Get More Power, Deal With It Haters

Illustration for article titled The 2016 Mazda Wont Get More Power, Deal With It Haters

Reviews of the 2016 Mazda Miata have been universally glowing, with auto journalists (who aren’t biased when it comes to Miatas at all, ever) praising it as something like the Second Coming, except better and with a convertible top. And yet many people with doubt in their hearts continue to pine for more power. When will a high-peformance version happen?


It won’t. Sorry.

That comes direct from Nobuhiro Yamamoto, the program manager for both the new Miata and Mazda’s Le Mans-winning 787B prototype racer back in the day. At this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, he was very blunt with Top Gear in saying a hi-po Miata variant is not in the cards:

“It’s important not to get hung up on numbers,” Yamamoto-san told us. “Not on power, or torque. No, what is more important is the feeling. The driving experience and feeling is more important than power.

“In my mind it just has to be fun to drive,” he added. He also said that the new MX-5 won’t get any more engine derivatives either, meaning buyers will only ever have the option of a 1.5-litre with 129bhp, or a 2.0-litre making 158bhp.


I actually applaud Yamamoto here for straight up saying “No” rather than the sanitized, meaningless, PR-friendly “It’s something we’re looking at, maybe, but also maybe not” non-answer we always get from auto executives. Dude’s ice cold here. No. Just no.

The reasons for this, Yamamoto said, is that they had five criteria they had to meet with the new roadster: front-mid-engined, compact, 50:50 weight distribution, “low inertia movement,” and cheap.

He also doubled down on what the Miata is supposed to be about, and has no intention of changing that.

“What’s very important to me is the feeling, and that you are happy driving it. I don’t want any more power or torque for the MX-5, but the sensation is important.”


Deal with it.

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BoxerFanatic, troublesome iconoclast.

Why do people always equate more available power with a lack of handling or feel? if it is somehow some sort of correlating mutual exclusivity. Even 250-ish horsepower and torque from an engine with minimal additional weight would turn Miata into an industry-beating sports car. 275-300+ horsepower could do the same with Toyota/Subaru’s FT86 triplets. And those power levels are do-able with turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, or a modest-sized Subaru H6.

It isn’t as if it means putting an Iron V8 int0 either car.

Chassis, engine-weight, and all else being equal, or minimally increased in order to greatly increase the power-to-weight ratio... What is wrong with getting the most power availability that the engine can give, and the chassis can handle, when it would not ruin the balance or handling capability of the car?

I have a feeling it is the pervasiveness of singular focus on Fuel Economy by the whole automotive industry. Look at the reviews of the Mazda CX3, or other mainstream mazdas that are barely powerful enough to move themselves through an intersection before the traffic lights turn... “but, but, but... they get 30-something MPG...” That decision-making mentality bleeds over into sportier models.

It also doesn’t help that it would have to be almost entirely re-federalized with a second engine option, which costs millions of dollars, and could destroy fragile profitability for a niche car... because the US doesn’t accept Type-federalization for a chassis platform, and then reduce costs to amend that federalization requirements for individual variants of that platform which has already met the main body of the regulations. Plus being generally over-regulated and beaurocratized anyway...

It seems to be a distinct pattern in the industry that product planning decision makers are drinking the environmental-activitst premise kook-aid, and are operating from a general premise that cars are bad for the planet, and need to be minimized, and focus solely on fuel economy.

However, one look at a major volcanic eruption’s emissions or other countries with un-regulated strip mining or other truly concerning issues should show that modern automobiles are barely a blip in the overall scheme of things, and that sunspots have a greater influence on global temperatures than almost anything that humans do, let alone a few people driving some little roadsters.

Miata may be an exception to the automotive industry trend, and an effort to be a bastion of driving enjoyment despite the rest of the market offerings. However, the “No more power for you!” trend with this, and BRZ/FRS/GT86 before it... is still held back by part of that trend.