Mazda Mulling A Turbo Miata, But Does It Really Need To?



When it launches later this year, the 2016 Mazda Miata will offer buyers up to 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Fans will note this is less than the previous car, though reports that Mazda executives are already considering a turbocharged engine to supplement the two naturally-aspirated motors that will launch with the 2016 Miata.

“We will have this ND-series model for maybe ten years, which gives us plenty of time to make many variants,” said Mazda’s head of public relations Kido Hidetoshi. “And yes, a turbocharged or MPS variant is one of the options we will definitely consider.”

At the core of Mazda’s concern is keeping the near-perfect 50:50 weight balance the 2016 Miata has achieved, and using a turbocharged engine would allow them to add less weight to a car reliant on its lightness. This is easier said than done though, as Mazda’s SKYACTIV-G line of gas engines have high compression ratios, making turbocharging difficult. Generally speaking, forced induction cars have low compression ratios, though turbodiesels are an exception to the rule. In other words, it’s doable, but it’ll take time and money, and the Miata is a pretty low-volume vehicle as it is. Can Mazda sell enough turbocharged versions to warrant the engineering effort?

If the engine is used in cars other than the Miata, than absolutely, yes. The 2016 Miata is launching with a 2.0 liter offering the aforementioned 155 horsepower, as well as a 1.5 liter engine with 128 horsepower. Those are not exactly fear-inspiring numbers, but the Miata has never been about raw power. It’s been about twisting and turning through tight corners, it’s about perfect balance, low weight, and lots of fun.

Would forced induction improve upon that experience? My initial gut reaction is “Hell yes!” But consider that for some 25 years, the Miata has been the best-selling roadster in America without ever offering a turbo engine. Does it really need one now?

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.
  • Steve Hanley

    Would love a turbo, myself. But perhaps the best advice to Mazda is, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

  • John J. McAvoy

    I’d prefer a performance hybrid with the smaller engine and the motor/generator integrated into the transmission. The battery could be placed so as to maintain the balance.

  • john gordos

    They did offer a turbo… the ’94 and ’95 Mazdaspeed MX-5.

  • Jack Bedford

    What the Miata needs is a 1 liter 2-stroke engine @200 hp. No turbos, no valvetrain, and lighter weight! Just need Mazda to figure out how to make it emissions legal. Could be as defining as the rotary engine was in the rx’s.

  • Samuel Johnston

    I have owned a 95 and an 04 Mazdaspeed factory turbo. No contest. The Turbo is lots more fun.