News - Mazda - MX-5
Mazda MX-5 on track for turbo
Mazda Australia's racing centre is developing a turbocharged MX-5
20 Oct 2000
By TIM BRITTEN
THE Mazda MX-5 looks a good bet to receive turbo boost next year, according to Mazda Australia managing director Mr Malcolm Gough.
Speaking at the launch of the updated MX-5 last Thursday, Mr Gough said the company's Sydney-based racing centre was working on development of a turbocharged MX-5, hopefully in time for the Melbourne motor show in March, 2001.
Although Mazda built a one-off turbo MX-5 based on the previous model, the new project would "start from scratch" because of the new engine with sequential valve timing.
The project is under the guidance of Mazda racing strategist Mr Alan Horsley, who also concocted the Mazda/Eunos 800SP built in limited numbers in 1998.
The turbo MX-5 would likely be built in limited numbers, at a price premium above the regular model.
Meanwhile, MX-5 customers will be pleased to know the latest version benefits from some worthwhile upgrades - not the least of which are a more powerful engine and the inclusion of anti-lock brakes as standard.
The updated MX-5 is priced at $41,190 - an increase of $2150 - while the optional hard top adds $3000 to the cost.
Its 1.8-litre engine gains variable camshaft timing to lift power from 106kW to 113kW, while torque rises from 165Nm to an impressive 181Nm.
It is linked to a six-speed manual transmission - the same gearbox seen in the limited edition model from last year.
Automatic transmission has been dropped from the MX-5 range because sales did not justify it.
The MX-5 also jumps onto the structural rigidity bandwagon by offering a 16 per cent improvement in bending resistance and 22 per cent better torsional stiffness.
A suspension rework includes the adoption of Bilstein gas dampers to improve drivability.
From a safety perspective, dual airbags and seatbelts with pretensioners and load limiters make the MX-5 a more secure place to be.
The latest MX-5 gets some visual upgrades as well.
The air intake in the front bumper now takes on Mazda's "five- point" styling adopted on various other models, including the 626 and MPV, and there is a new headlight cluster with projector lens low beam and a multi-reflector high beam.
The rear remains much the same apart from the adoption of new clear-look turning indicator lenses.
Changes inside include new faces for the instruments, which now use a white background and are girt by chrome surrounds. A single-disc CD player is incorporated into the radio and there is a new centre console incorporating a container big enough to carry six CDs.
Around 900 MX-5s are expected to be sold in 2000 - a drop in the 1354 sales recorded in 1999, which was the second-best figure recorded since the MX-5 was launched in 1989. Best-ever MX-5 sales were in 1990, the car's first full year, when it racked up 1456 sales.
Millenia has front end reworked
THE launch of the updated MX-5 also gave Mazda the opportunity to present its latest version of the long-running Mazda/Eunos 800.
Now rebadged Millenia, the 800 continues with the effective Miller cycle supercharged V6 engine, but gains a dramatic front-end styling rework.
The Millenia could, in fact, be mistaken for a 626 at first glance because it adopts all the styling elements introduced on Mazda's medium-size sedan, including the "five-point" grille and edgy bonnet curves.
The Millenia also gains revised suspension and steering systems, as well as improved brakes incorporating larger rotors and high-performance disc pads. The system remains as a three-channel, four-sensor arrangement.
The interior has also been freshened, using lighter trim colors and new, Lexus-style instrument lighting. A quality Bose sound system with a six-disc CD changer is standard.
Both doors also close with a more authoritative sound as a result of reworked door latches and the addition of extra damping in the panels. The boot shuts with a nicer sound, too.
Mazda says the Millenia - nee 800 - remains in the Mazda range despite a leisurely sales pace, essentially to maintain a presence at the upper end of the market and to support the existing Mazda/Eunos 800 owner base. The company expects to sell around 200 Millenias a year.
The one model only Millenia is priced at $71,250.
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