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BBR Stage 2 Mazda MX-5 2.0: Spotted

How to make an MX-5 feel as exciting as a Caterham? Giving it 300hp is a decent place to start...

By Matt Bird / Thursday, April 18, 2019

Hopefully it will have become clear over the past few months of running the latest soft-topand RF MX-5s that we've become rather fond of them. Principally that stems from its faithful update of Mazda's timeless formula; as more and more sports cars become complex and seemingly overwrought, so the relative simplicity and clever engineering of the ND generation appeals. As it was 25 years ago, the dinky Mazda deploys a revvy normally aspirated engine, rear-wheel drive, a simple fabric roof and compact dimensions to great effect.

Also, just like the old MX-5s, the Mk4 has responded extremely well to tuning, its rather timid stock offering easily sharpened by the aftermarket. Trouble is, tuning can get expensive, especially in relative terms given the MX-5's modest retail price. It can become difficult to justify such a significant chunk of the initial outlay on upgrading, however good the result is - particularly with the warranty being invalidated on a new car.

Far better, we'd say, to take advantage of someone else's handiwork on the secondhand market. Ideally you be after a reputable parts supplier, a sensible level of modification, and a diligent owner clearly committed to the cause - this MX-5 ticks all those boxes. And then some.

Once a Mk3.5 2.0-litre Venture, this MX-5 has been treated to BBR's Stage 2 turbo upgrade, providing it with just over 300hp. The current owner's original intention was to create a liveable companion to their Seven, and there's no way that was going to happen with a measly 160hp and more than a tonne to lug around. In theory this sort of power should give performance in the R300/310S region, which ought to be sufficient for most.

BBR's forced induction kits are known for retaining the standard engine's effervescent character; its chassis work is similar, in that the modified cars still feel like MX-5s. Only much, much better ones, the limits higher yet communicated to the driver more clearly, making them simpler to exploit. This MX-5 has been treated to the spring and damper kit, adjustable anti-roll bars front and rear, EBC grooved discs and pads plus a set of Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres.

Does it work? The owner certainly vouches for it, the enthusiasm for its dynamic ability and performance clear to anyone reading the advert. That there's this much written, with so many details and lots of handy information, is very encouraging for any prospective owner to see. That it's only being sold because a Lotus Exige covers both the bases that previously required two cars is yet more good news.

£14k puts this car as one of the more expensive Mk3 MX-5s out there, which is understandable given the spec and the low mileage of 32,000. Interestingly there are other BBR conversions available for less money, though they are older cars with more miles. And, well, the wheels aren't as cool on those ones. Plus, as mentioned earlier and stated in the ad, it's going to cost you a heck of a lot more than £14k to build something similar from a 30,000-mile MX-5 - this one is £10,000 to start with.

All things considered, then, it's hard not to be won over. There are all the benefits of tuning - this being surely one of the fastest and best-to-drive MX-5s out there - but with someone else having spent the vast chunk of cash. And not having used it a great deal. With spring having very much sprung, what better way to welcome in the warmer months?


SPECIFICATION - MAZDA MX-5 BBR STAGE 2

Engine: 1,999cc, 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 268@7,350rpm
Torque (lb ft): 227@5,100rpm
MPG: 36.2 (standard car, NEDC combined)
CO2: 181 (standard car)
First registered: 2012
Recorded mileage: 32,685
Price new: £29,995 (GT270)
Yours for: £13,995
(Power spec for MX-5 GT270)

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