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Tuesday 9th October 2012

BBR spices up MX-5 1.8

Man maths, cheap used 1.8 MX-5s and BBR's 220bhp conversion package collide in a tempting combination...



As we all know, there's no question that can't be answered by MX-5. Especially when it's got a supercharger lashed to the engine.

Mazda performance specialist BBR has now added the 1.8-litre version of the latest generation car to its supercharger conversion list, promising an increase of power from 126hp to much more satisfying 220hp.

Your sub-£5K blank canvas awaits...
Your sub-£5K blank canvas awaits...
"The 1.8 is tedious, it can't be considered a sports car by any means," says BBR development manager Neil Mckay. (Tell it like it is Neil! - Ed.) The Brackley, Northants, company will solve that for £5,995 in a conversion he reckons drops the 0-60mph sprint time to under six seconds, depending on the tyres.

OK, the 2.0-litre version launched in 2010 with the same fourth generation Eaton MP62 supercharger will make 238hp (244hp for the higher-revving facelift version), but Mckay reckons the 1.8 is the smoother engine.

He also points out that prices for the smaller-engined Mazda have now dropped below £5,000 (here's one) with a fair few high-spec special edition cars knocking about.

Yes, a conversion that costs more than the car sounds like man maths gone tonto, but that amount of power is transformational (see our review of the 2.0-litre here). For the money you get the supercharger, a new intake manifold originally designed by Cosworth, an intercooler, high-flow injectors, uprated hoses and the firm's StarChip ECU remap. Conversions take three to four days.

Supercharger offers a more torquey feel
Supercharger offers a more torquey feel
If you want to include a performance exhaust then the Stage 2 version ups the power again to 234hp and costs £7,674. Too much? BBR also offers the cheaper Super 180(clue's in the name) conversion for a couple of grand.

Mckay reckons his customers' insurance bills rise on average between £100-150 over the standard car when a specialist such as Adrian Flux is used. He even reckons that fuel economy is better, simply because the standard car runs so rich. You get a warranty on the parts but not the engine, which like the two-litre is a version of the Ford Duratec. So fairly bombproof.

BBR is more famous for the turbo version of the Mk1 MX-5 first launched as a Mazda-backed special to celebrate the firm's Le Mans win all the way back in 1991. That Mk1 turbo conversion was resurrected in 2010, but the layout of Mk3 car wasn't friendly to a turbocharged fitment.

So far BBR has sold 40 of the two-litre conversion and is bullish that the 1.8 will be popular too. So what do we think: a financial outlay of Hellenic idiocy, or a sensible investment to create the perfect sports car? Anyone already with a BBR supercharged conversion should pipe up too. How are you liking it?

NickGibbs
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James Dean

Original Poster:

1,142 posts

51 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
I would like a go in one, just what the MX-5 needs for it to be totally attractable to me. Either a supercharger or 2 more cylinders, which isn't going to happen.

Bill Carr

2,234 posts

120 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
So £5995 is the cost of conversion, not including the < £5k car? Wowza.

F1GTRUeno

2,507 posts

104 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all


That really looks fantastic to me.

My next-door neighbours wife has just picked an MX-5 up though, couldn't really be seen in the same car as her.

RB Will

3,970 posts

126 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
was interested until I saw the £6k conversion price.
You can buy a bloody TVR for that.

jacjac

136 posts

110 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
I am just in the process of parting with my 07 Mk3 (check Adrian Blyth if you want cracking little car) after two and a half years of happy motoring. Even in standard form it will give a lot more serious sports cars a run for their money - especially around the twisties. I did think about the BBR supercharger conversion, but in order to make any sense of spending that sort of money I would want to use the Mk 3.5 as a base. But at the end of the day even with a newer car I would have been looking at £20-25K for a 240 bhp folding hard top two seater, which we have to accept that despite all the many good bits, will always have a dubious image. Instead I bought this: (same money less to insure albeit a bit more to run overall).
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RichyBoy

2,646 posts

103 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
Seems like a bargain but what about all the other stuff - wheels, suspension etc?

handbraketurn

1,096 posts

52 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
F1GTRUeno said:


That really looks fantastic to me.

My next-door neighbours wife has just picked an MX-5 up though, couldn't really be seen in the same car as her.
That is clearly not a standard car, at least lowering springs, more likely new suspension, £5+k for the engine modification, then I would guestimate in the region of £2k for new chassis upgrades and some more for brakes.


MIP1983

135 posts

91 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
Why do this over getting an S2000? You could leave it as standard and enjoy more power than the supercharged mx-5 (and have money in your pocket), or you could spend similar money, add a TTS supercharger and have 350bhp plus.

Edited by MIP1983 on Tuesday 9th October 14:38

abarber

1,022 posts

127 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
The original 2ltr cosworth conversion had some reliability concerns and was withdrawn for some markets. Has this been resolved?

Caractacus

2,426 posts

111 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
So if you spend £10k, or thereabouts (all in), and you end up with 220bhp, surely there's a plethora of cars you could choose from, some rag tops, too. TVR's, old Pork, BMW...

I'm oot.

GranCab

531 posts

32 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
F1GTRUeno said:


That really looks fantastic to me.

My next-door neighbours wife has just picked an MX-5 up though, couldn't really be seen in the same car as her.
Not unless you want her husband to come after you with a carving knife ... furious

kambites

41,012 posts

107 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
F1GTRUeno said:
My next-door neighbours wife has just picked an MX-5 up though, couldn't really be seen in the same car as her.
How sad...

kambites

41,012 posts

107 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
MIP1983 said:
Why do this over getting an S2000? You could leave it as standard and enjoy more power than the supercharged mx-5 (and have money in your pocket), or you could spend similar money, add a TTS supercharger and have 350bhp plus.
Because the MX5's chassis is better than the S2000's?

hill79

213 posts

75 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
The MX-5 is usually attractive due to it's fun/cost ratio and in fairness, ~£6000 for a 6 year old two seater soft-top (as per the classified advert) is a good deal, even if it is the less desirable 1.8 engine.

But

Spending another ~£6000 on *just* supercharging the same car is lunacy. You'd be mad not to fit bigger brakes, let alone uprate the suspension, easily another £1000. I know the MX-5 has a strong, loyal fanbase but you'd have to be nuts to consider this.

Crow555

1,036 posts

80 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
I'd love to convince the OH to get this fitted to her 20th Ani version 1.8. At nearly £6k, I don't think she's ever go do it. There's lots of metal out there for the price of the conversion alone that would be better bang for your buck.

kambites

41,012 posts

107 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
hill79 said:
The MX-5 is usually attractive due to it's fun/cost ratio and in fairness, ~£6000 for a 6 year old two seater soft-top (as per the classified advert) is a good deal, even if it is the less desirable 1.8 engine.

But

Spending another ~£6000 on *just* supercharging the same car is lunacy. You'd be mad not to fit bigger brakes, let alone uprate the suspension, easily another £1000. I know the MX-5 has a strong, loyal fanbase but you'd have to be nuts to consider this.
True, but the same could be said for almost any modification to almost any car. It's almost always cheaper to just buy something better in the first place.

AyBee

6,251 posts

88 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
£6k for the conversion alone is too much. Once you add £5k for the car plus suspension and brake upgrades, you're talking £15k easily which would get you into a lot of very nice alternatives. Not for me!

moskvich427

171 posts

61 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
But how much of the outlay would you get back when you sell the car on again?
"Not much" is my guess... you're still left with a fairly old MX-5 at the end of it.

otolith

26,136 posts

90 months

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Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
"The 1.8 is tedious, it can't be considered a sports car by any means"

I would say that one good way of identifying a sports car is to ask if it would still be one if it were slow - by which metric, if the 1.8 isn't one, nor is the BBR version.

hill79

213 posts

75 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
kambites said:
hill79 said:
The MX-5 is usually attractive due to it's fun/cost ratio and in fairness, ~£6000 for a 6 year old two seater soft-top (as per the classified advert) is a good deal, even if it is the less desirable 1.8 engine.

But

Spending another ~£6000 on *just* supercharging the same car is lunacy. You'd be mad not to fit bigger brakes, let alone uprate the suspension, easily another £1000. I know the MX-5 has a strong, loyal fanbase but you'd have to be nuts to consider this.
True, but the same could be said for almost any modification to almost any car. It's almost always cheaper to just buy something better in the first place.
If you're talking about higher 'stage' modifications then yes, I agree entirely - it's an undertaking reserved for those truly *dedicated* to the marque.

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