NEWS: Leaked Mazda document reveals 181 horsepower for 2019 MX-5

A document disclosing mid-generational changes to the Mazda MX-5 has leaked. The paper reveals a fairly significant bump to 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, up from the current 155 horses and 148 lb-ft. Here’s the details on how they squeezed more juice from an already highly efficient engine.

Mazda’s SkyActiv-G engines are at present pretty impressive, offering an unmatched power and torque to mpg ratio, thanks to extreme compression ratios, low-friction internals and a long 4-2-1 exhaust header. It seemed like they were engineered to the seams.

Amazingly, according to the document published by LeftLane News, Mazda has extracted an extra 26 horses from these already efficient engines by massaging every part. A larger air intake, throttle and intake valves, as well as a smoother manifold provide improved induction. New pistons that Mazda describes as “ultra light weight” have been reshaped to generate more of a “tumble effect” on the incoming air, and are complemented by lighter con rods and a rebalanced crankshaft.

Higher lift cams, lighter exhaust valves, redesigned exhaust ports, and a freer manifold and less restrictive main silencer help flow on the exit side. The document also claims “meticulous acoustic tuning of the exhaust system” for a more linear sound under acceleration and a “more satisfying and engaging exhaust note.”

The document says the new motor revs at higher rpm, but it’s not clear how much higher than the 6,800 rpm redline the tach needle now climbs. To temper the increased NVH at those rotational speeds, a dual-mass flywheel dampens drivetrain turbulence while still ensuring quick throttle response. That’s a lot of improvements to an engine that’s still relatively new. It reminds of the Bubble Era heyday of Japanese technology.

Beyond the performance gains, though, the MX-5 also offers new safety features, such as automatic forward braking, lane departure warnings, an available traffic sign recognition system and a wide angle backup camera. We know Miata drivers are engaged drivers and that most of these seem superfluous, but hey, they won’t hurt.

Lastly, cabin-wise, oddly proportioned drivers will benefit from a telescoping steering wheel now. Also, the premium sound system is now available on lower trims, and the CD player has been axed.

The document states that this is for the MX-5 RF, but it’s almost certain that soft-top Miatas will see the same changes. Obviously, we’re most excited about the power gains even though we believe it’s not the be-all end-all solution to driving joy. 181 horsepower is what Kev‘s old NA Miata was making with Tomei cams. For a car weighing 2,332 pounds, less than 200 heavier the first-gen, that’s positively stupendous. It’s not confirmed, but expect to see these changes hit showrooms sometime this summer.

Image: Mazda

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11 Responses to NEWS: Leaked Mazda document reveals 181 horsepower for 2019 MX-5

  1. Toscra said:

    It’s true and it’s for the roadster & the RF. Also redline starts from 7500rpm.

    • Ben Hsu said:

      Got a source we can cite?

      • Motive Force said:

        It was on a thread in Miata.net, a Canadian dealer memo was leaked. I did my part, sent the pictures to Jalopnik. They have since been deleted from the website, so it’s maybe best not to post them. Aside from the stuff mentioned here, there will be brown leather and roof on offer. No mention of LSD…

        What’s amusing is just how much of the engine they’ve changed: intake, throttle, manifold, head, valves, cams, valves, injectors, manifold, exhaust, crank, rods, pistons, flywheel. So literally everything touched by air, and the entire rotating assembly (less pulleys).

        I read that, and bought a 2018 to keep my 1992 company. Plus, air conditioning.

    • ImurOBGYN said:

      I was thinking given the mods and increase in hp, it’d be about 7500rpm.

  2. Tom Westmacott said:

    High-lift cam, porting, new pistons, …. that’s an impressively *mechanical* tuning package in this day and age, very cool. Wonder what it does for the sound and subjective character of the engine?

  3. SHC said:

    I would have expected a much better torque with those mods. than 3 lb-ft increase.

    • Mike in Long Beach said:

      Yup. Sounds like most of the work on the internals and on air flow primarily support a higher red line and extending the torque higher in the rev range. So you get i nice bump in the HP stat without adding much torque. Bumping up the max rpm is certainly easier to do from an engineering standpoint than increasing torque. Plus you really aren’t increasing stress on the drive train.

    • Ant said:

      It depends where the torque is developed. 3lb ft at the same engine speed would be unimpressive, but a lot more relevant if it’s 1000rpm lower for instance – or if the torque band is much wider even if the peak isn’t much higher.

  4. Tim said:

    FYI, bit of a typo. It’s not a “wider-angle” backup camera. It’s a “wide-angle” backup camera. The current generation doesn’t have a camera at all. It also lacks the wiring necessary to install the cameras available in other countries, although the radio display does have the necessary input to display it. There’s a belief in the community that the lack of a camera is the reason that MX-5 production will stop halfway through the year.

    The current gen MX-5 is the best Miata they’ve ever made, and an amazing sports car. I’m looking forward to the minor power bump!

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