The rumors of Mazda developing a far more powerful MX-5 Miata were true. Japan's Car Watch had the opportunity to drive a prototype for the massively updated roadster, and the publication divulged all the details. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder now packs 182 horsepower at 7,000 rpm rather than 155 hp at 6,000 rpm in current form. Torque grows slightly to 151 pound-feet (205 Newton-meters) of torque from 148 lb-ft (201 Nm) in the existing model.
To achieve such a significant power bump, Mazda overhauls the powertrain. New pistons are 0.95 ounces (27 grams) lighter, and the connecting rods weigh 1.4 ounces (41 grams) less. To breathe better, the Miata's engine has a larger diameter throttle body, bigger exhaust valves, and wider exhaust piping. The improvements let the redline rise to 7,500 rpm from 6,800 rpm on the existing roadster. In addition to more power, the tweaks also allegedly improve thermal efficiency and lower emissions, according to Car Watch. A dual-mass flywheel is among the new pieces, too.
While the engine is the heart of a sports car, it's not the only thing that matters. Mazda's engineers install softer suspension bushings at the back, which allegedly improves steering feel. Inside the cabin, drivers get a telescoping steering wheel for the first time in the Miata. According to Car Watch, it has 1.2 inches (30 millimeters) of adjustment, in addition to the existing tilt function that can move 1.7 inches (42 mm).
Gallery: 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF: First Drive
The photos from Car Watch's story don't show any major styling changes for the Miata. However, it does mention minor aesthetic tweaks like availability of a caramel brown top, tan leather interior, and bright finish for the wheels.
Now, here's the somewhat bad news. Motor1.com reached out to Mazda's representatives in the United States to ask about these changes for the American region. "As standard policy, we do not comment on speculation or future products that have not been announced for our market," the automaker responded.
It seems highly unlikely that Mazda would invest so much into upgrading the Miata and not bring the changes stateside. However, the automaker is remaining mum about when the arrival might happen.