U.S. buyers of the 2016 Mazda Miata will get a 2.0 liter SkyActiv-G four-cylinder engine to play with in the redesigned roadster. Customers overseas, however, will also have the choice of a smaller and less-powerful 1.5 liter engine that squeaks under many strict emissions regulations.
In China and many European countries, cars are often subject to an additional tax based on engine displacement, and 1.5 liters is the cut-off for most places between a lower and higher tax bracket. International buyers will have the choice of paying the extra dues for the bigger 2.0 liter motor, but Americans will only get the one engine choice, for now at least, and Mazda isn’t talking specific power numbers just yet.
It is, however, a very good engine, and currently powers other Mazda offerings like the Mazda3, Mazda6, and CX-5 crossover. The engine as-is happens to be rated at 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque though, it’s actually less powerful than the current engine, which makes 167 horsepower but only 140 lb-ft of torque. The 2016 Miata is also on the order of 200-lbs lighter than the outgoing model, which will help handling and acceleration, though a naturally-aspirated 1.5 liter engine seems a bit too puny to provide any real performance.
Perhaps that blowoff valve we heard in the earliest teaser video is attached to the smaller engine? In this way Mazda could squeak by emissions regulations, but still offer a higher degree of performance than you might normally suspect from a small motor. The Ford 1.0 liter EcoBoost has shown what’s possible with turbocharging a small motor, and Miata fans have been waiting for a turbo engine for some time. It’s about time Mazda gave it to them. Us Americans though?
The naturally-aspirated 2.0 liter is it for us for the foreseeable future, which dashes my own turbocharger dreams. But we could do worse.