AW Vehicle Review - 2004 MazdaSpeed Miata

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Mar 10, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    MazdaSpeed’s Second Product Makes Even The Miata More Fun

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    By MARK VAUGHN
    (08:30 March 08, 2004)

    Best conditions for trying out your new MazdaSpeed Miata? How about rain-dampened pavement, plenty of potholes, a narrow two-lane mountain road in the Malibu hills, oncoming monster SUV traffic with high-beams on full blast driven by inattentive actors and TV producers juggling cell phones? Oh, and it is pitch-black nighttime so if you do go over the edge they won’t find you until next fire season. But by then you will have done your part in keeping some vultures fed.

    Luckily, we weren’t driving that particular stint. Townsend Bell, the Indy Lights, CART and F3000 racer angling for an F1 ride, was our pilot. Bell had returned from a Euro test session in Jaguar’s F1 car and was resting and plotting his ascent of the Grand Prix ranks from the harsh confines of his father-in-law’s stately seaside Malibu mansion. Bell was happy to give the MazdaSpeed a whirl.

    “We’re about the same size,” he said, buckling up the seatbelt. The car was parked in the huge brick courtyard between the main house and the garage. The bricks were wet with rainwater. “Does this thing have traction control?” he asked, starting the car.

    Before we could say it had a Bosch torque-sensing limited-slip differential, he had the back end sliding around from launch in a nice, smooth arc.

    “No, I guess not.”

    That’s how race car drivers do these things, like you or I might scribble with a ballpoint pen to see if it has ink. In addition to the LSD, the car has 17-inch Racing Hart wheels with 205/40 Toyo Proxes tires to keep it in line.

    “I really liked the last RX-7,” Bell said, as we merged onto California’s Pacific Coast Highway.

    He made a U-turn and headed north, rolling on the gas before cutting up nearby Corral Canyon Road.

    “Power’s pretty good,” he said.

    It should be. MazdaSpeed added an IHI ball-bearing single-scroll turbocharger with a Denso air-to-air intercooler that is good for 7.25 pounds of boost. That means horsepower goes up from 142 in the stock Miata to 178 here, and torque from 125 lb-ft to 166. A stronger clutch, six-speed transmission and drive-- shaft are required to handle the extra power. The radiator is larger to help keep things cool.

    Corral Canyon Road is not in the best shape even when the road is dry. Under hard acceleration we whomped onto a bump and felt the Miata’s bump stops briefly connect with the suspension. The MazdaSpeed Miata rides about a quarter-inch lower than the stock Miata, with tighter springs and stiffer Bilstein shocks as well as larger front and rear stabilizer bars and a front strut tower brace.

    “That shouldn’t have happened,” Bell said. “The car bottomed out and that wasn’t even a very big bump. Needs a little bit better damper control.”

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    We were going kind of fast, so that added to the energy the suspension had to absorb. Plus, this guy just got out of a Jaguar F1 car. “That RX-8 looks pretty nice, too, is that like the RX-7?”

    We told him yes, more or less, like an RX-7 with more room, better rotor seals, side exhaust ports and not quite as much styling appeal.

    Bell was zipping up the road much quicker than we would have chosen to zip, given the weather, the road, the guardrail and our talent. We are not as confident in knowing the limits of the Miata’s adhesion in this slick situation. But Bell identified the limits immediately and happily danced along next to them. Cornering quicker than we would have thought the car could corner resulted in no understeer or oversteer—just steer.

    That is why race car drivers, good ones anyway, are so helpful in evaluating a car’s handling. Being able to provide accurate feedback to your engineers is one of the things Bell had listed as a necessity to be an F1 pilot.

    “The turn-in is good,” he reported.

    The MazdaSpeed’s rack-and-pinion steering is, in fact, quicker than stock.


    Bell continued a bit farther up the canyon, turned around and came down, again, faster than we would have thought possible without a trip to the fender shop. The MazdaSpeed Miata was even better than we had imagined after a few days of driving it.

    “I like it more than the old Miata,” Bell said, handing us the keys.

    So do we. But the thing is, this could be the last year of the Miata, or at least the last year of this version of the Miata.
    Look at the timing of the MazdaSpeed Protegé. That car came out about a year before the new Mazda 3, right? Sources at Mazda say to expect similar timing for the next Miata. We all saw the Mazda Ibuki show car at Tokyo, or at least we saw pictures of it. Love it or hate it—and, personally, we loved it—that seems to be the look of the new roadster.

    A new look is necessary. After 14 years in production with only a facelift and numerous special editions to liven things up, the Miata is so long in the tooth it is beginning to look like a saber-toothed tiger. Mazda had to do something to it. Thank you, MazdaSpeed.

    Since we first saw the Miata in 1989, sales have steadily decreased. It set its highest sales figure in 1990, its first full year in showrooms, at 35,944. Last year was its lowest ever, with 10,920 U.S. sales. Mazda couldn’t sit and wait for it to dry up completely, or wait for the replacement. And yet another special edition likely wouldn’t have fooled anyone. This hot rod version costs little, compared to the investment to make a whole new car. So the MazdaSpeed Miata makes good business sense.

    The car is on its way to showrooms now, priced at $25,500 for a cloth-interior version and $26,200 for leather. We’ll happily take this until the all-new Miata arrives. Or at least the MazdaSpeed RX-8.

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    ON SALE: Now
    BASE PRICE: $25,500
    POWERTRAIN: 1.8-liter, 178-hp, 166-lb-ft turbocharged I4; rwd, six-speed manual
    CURB WEIGHT: 2529 pounds 0 TO 60 MPH: 7.1 seconds (est.)

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  2. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    No love for the Miata? :hs:
     
  3. WickedLou9

    WickedLou9 Deep cover terrorist gerbil

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    Too slow. For the same price you can have a mustang GT which will beat that car to 60 and to the 1/4 mile by a large margin. The handling of the miata has always been good because it's smaller than a go-kart.
     
  4. mads.

    mads. OT Supporter

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    wtf , i thought they had like 160 stock?
     
  5. mamoru

    mamoru New Member

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    I :love: my miata...

    :hug:

    I just hate how rollbars aren;t built in like on the bmw z3...because the aftermarket ones are so ugly :hs:
     
  6. Marmot

    Marmot Guest

    WTF, they could have gotten 200hp out of that and you would have a fucking rocket.
     
  7. bioyuki

    bioyuki Ich habe Angst

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    Corral Canyon Road = :coold:

    And this is the power level the Miata should have had...the Mazdaspeed one should have even more...the FMIC is the size of a cereal box :o
     
  8. Marmot

    Marmot Guest

    Yeah, I think a starion intercooler would have more performance than that :rofl:
    I still want to buy a 1.6L and run it at 9lbs of boost for a track/summer car :hs:
     
  9. Toy Turbo 2

    Toy Turbo 2 Sabrina, don't just stare at it. Eat it.

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    i am gonna see what the next miata looks like now that i realize its about to come out :o
     
  10. hondaluva

    hondaluva likes free hugs...

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    This is all I care about...fck the power.... but $26k?
     
  11. glide

    glide primer

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    People wanted more factory power, they've got it :cool:
    More can be had, makes the Miata even better.
     
  12. L7

    L7 Mr Negativity

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    The coupe = :wackit:
     
  13. glide

    glide primer

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  14. VBGOD

    VBGOD Guest

  15. VBGOD

    VBGOD Guest

    Factory power is very expensive.
     
  16. glide

    glide primer

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    Indeed :hs:
    The things people do for a warranty =/

    Its price almost makes you think about the S2000 :hs:
     
  17. DefBringer

    DefBringer Guest

    What I want to know: How hard is it to turn up the boost on that thing and can it handle the power? 7psi is almost pointless, first thing I'd do is crank that bitch up to 11psi to see if she could hold it.
     
  18. admiral mcscruff

    admiral mcscruff OT Supporter

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    if they turboed the hardtop coupe and fixed that ugly trianglar glass piece on the windows i would buy one even with the gay image :hs:
     
  19. Marmot

    Marmot Guest

    I know the car isn't about power, but if they are going to go out of there way to turbo it, they should have at least tried to get more power out of it.
    I do know about the starion intercooler, that is why I mentioned it specifically in my post about the miata intercoller being too small.
     
  20. DefBringer

    DefBringer Guest

    Going through all the trouble of adding a turbocharger and all the accompanying hardware to get 36horsepower?

    That reminds me of all those guys who blew $4k supercharging their Integras and still got walked by bone-stock Mustang GT's. :rofl:
     
  21. glide

    glide primer

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    Peak numbers don't mean much. I'd love to see the torque curves between the two :hs:
     
  22. Toy Turbo 2

    Toy Turbo 2 Sabrina, don't just stare at it. Eat it.

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    i am starting to think miata is taking a baby development step into doing something more...:dunno:
     
  23. glide

    glide primer

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    Just like the Mazdaspeed RX-8, they said it would be a steady evolution :big grin:
     
  24. DefBringer

    DefBringer Guest

    I think Mazda would be better off just dumping this engine into the RX-8 and just call it the MX-8. :o
     
  25. Nemesis_152

    Nemesis_152 I'm a delicate desert flower from Arizona.

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    we have a winner.
     

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