A 181-horsepower in the latest Miata could be a wonderful roadster.
The latest generation of the Mazda MX-5 Miata performs impressively with its stock 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 155 horsepower, but more power is always welcome. Now, evidence suggests that the roadster could get a serious upgrade by allegedly producing 181 hp for the 2019 model.
Road & Track discovered the info in a filing my Mazda to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Embedded in boring paperwork about VIN numbers, there's one very tantalizing line. It suggests the the Miata's 2.0-liter four-cylinder would have "engine net brake horsepower" of 181 hp for the 2019 model year. To make this info even more intriguing, the VIN documentation suggests that the more powerful mill would be the only engine in the lineup, meaning that even the base trims of the Miata would take advantage of the improvement.
Unfortunately, the paperwork offers no hints about how Mazda would get so much more power of the engine. The document specifically says that the mill has no electrification. The company also refers to it as the PE powertrain, which refers to Mazda's Skyactiv-G 2.0.
Work by aftermarket tuners suggests that a 26-horsepower upgrade isn't too difficult to achieve from the existing 2.0-liter four-cylinder. BBR from the United Kingdom offers a Super 200 package for the roadster that pushes the output all the way to 205 hp (152.9 kW) with 180 lb-ft (244 Nm). It's possible thanks to a cold-air intake, 4-into-1 headers, new camshafts, upgraded valve springs, and a reflashed ECU. Adding Flyin' Miata's high-flow exhaust midpipe can allegedly add another 9 horsepower. The parts are even available in the United States for a total of $3,624.
There doesn't appear to be any black magic in these parts that Mazda's engineers wouldn't be able to figure out. Assuming the upgrades don't adversely affect the engine's usability or emissions too much, it's easy to imaging the company following the aftermarket's recipe to unlocking more power from the 2.0-liter four-cylinder.