Perhaps the greatest praise that can be heaped on the latest 2.0-litre MX-5 is that it feels like an old engine; it thrives on revs, responds eagerly and makes an authentic, appealing noise. Yet it also complies with all the latest emissions regs, and can achieve nearly 50mpg in a 1,000kg MX-5 - it's an absolute gem of a powerplant.
Now BBR, long-time tuners of Mazda's eponymous roadster, has worked its magic on the latest engine. Even working with the pre-facelift MX-5 Mk4 it's results were impressive; with a more inspiring base to work from this time, expectations are high. The new kits are the Super 200 and Super 220, as before available as DIY kits or drive in, drive out installations at BBR's Brackley HQ.
The 220 is of most interest; not just because it's the most powerful - though that's a valid claim to importance - but because it represents the first time an MX-5 engine has yielded more than 100hp per litre without internal mods. That's according to BBR's Neil McKay, and what he doesn't know about MX-5s would leave space on a post-it note.
Making a 220 involves a 4-into-1 stainless steel exhaust manifold, a StarChip ECU calibration, a cold air intake system including K&N filter and BBR's high performance cams, valve springs and retainers - no doubt turbos will come in time, but that sounds pretty good for now.
Peak power is a claimed 221bhp (224hp) at a dreamy 7,800rpm, with 4,350rpm required for the 166lb ft torque peak when tested with 99-octane fuel. BBR says the upgrade delivers "sparkling, easy to drive, accessible performance" that is unique to them. The Super 220 kit costs £2,235 plus VAT as a DIY pack, or £2,895 plus VAT for BBR to do the work.
For the Super 200, you can read as above but take away the cams, springs and retainers. That means 205hp and 165lb ft, delivered at 7,300rpm and 3,950rpm respectively. (Interestingly, both BBR models reach maximum torque at lower revs than the standard car, which needs 4,850rpm for 154lb ft.) BBR says the 200 offers "significant extra urge and throttle response, making for unforgettable, exhilarating motoring." It costs £1,245 plus VAT as a self-install, or £1,445 plus VAT as an in house BBR job.
As well as warranties for the work from one to three years, BBR has launched with these power packs a 2.5-inch centre exhaust section and choice of rear silencers for both models. No harm in making a bit more noise (and power) with your tuned MX-5, is there? Both Super 200 and 220 are available to purchase now, and yes, we're doing everything in our power to drive BBR's 220 demonstrator as soon as possible...