A V8 Miata?

Tempted by a new MX-5 but consider its engine four cylinders short of a picnic? Fear not, as Flyin’ Miata – the US company renowned for rehoming V8s in MX-5s – has a solution for you.Admittedly it’s not a cheap solution, but it is a simple one. Simply drop a new MX-5 off at Flyin’ Miata, part with $49,995, and you’ll be rewarded with a 430bhp V8-engined roadster.
How good’s the swap?

It’s no hack job, by any stretch of the imagination – Flyin’ Miata comprehensively reworks the Mazda to accept its new powerplant. The entry-level engine option is a 430bhp 6.2-litre LS3, which is backed by a two-year warranty. Power’s dispatched from the nose of the Mazda to the tail by a six-speed T56 gearbox, while the limited-slip differential from a Camaro does its best to maximise traction.

Each Flyin’ Miata ND also gets an aluminium driveshaft, heavy-duty axles, an upgraded fuel and cooling system, bigger brakes and FOX Racing suspension. The company goes to town on making sure the whole swap has an OEM+ vibe to it, by using proper wiring looms, retaining the air-con and making sure the factory instrument cluster works.
‘All parts used in the conversion are new,’ says Flyin’ Miata. ‘We use as many factory parts as possible in order to ease servicing in the future, right down to the rubber in the motor mounts. All functions of the car continue to function, from the stop/start button to all the factory gauges to the infotainment system. The one system that is deleted is traction control. We also remove the electric power steering and install a hydraulically assisted unit with a variable ratio.’
A host of further upgrades are offered, should you feel the need for more speed – including a 525bhp/489lb ft LS 376/525 engine upgrade and a carbonfibre driveshaft. In any instance, your newly muscled-up MX-5 will unquestionably go like hell.

Does it still handle well?

It’s claimed that the conversion adds 113kg to the MX-5’s kerb weight, which isn’t an entirely unreasonable amount. The stock front/rear bias shifts fractionally, too, from 52:48 to 53:47. Factor in the upgraded suspension, braking and steering systems, and the net result should be a sweet-handling, grin-inducing convertible with a charismatic exhaust note.

Flyin’ Miata states: ‘We’ve taken great pains to retain the Miata’s handling and character, and expanded on it with the improved feel of the hydraulic power steering. Far from being an uncontrollable monster, the car remains as friendly as the original and is able to gain excellent traction off corners. This is probably the biggest surprise anyone gets while driving, how easy it is to control.’

Sounds great, but surely there are better options for the money?

In the US the Miata… sorry, starts at $24,915. So, add the cost of the conversion and you’re looking at a minimum of $74,910. 

That’s a lot of coin for a 2/3rds scale Corvette. For comparison, in the US, the Corvette itself starts at $55,400. But then C7s are everywhere in the States – and it’s hard to beat the sheer fun you can have in a small car with a monstrous engine…


Millionth Miata world tour heads to the States


Journey begins at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for Motorsports Reunion

After 27 years of production, Mazda announced it made the one millionth Miata in April. To celebrate the achievement, the Japanese automaker has been taking the roadster on a worldwide tour. Now, the vehicle is finally making its way to the States.

The Miata will start its 18-stop tour at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Monterey Motorsports Reunion from Aug. 18-21. The journey will end on Oct. 2 at the same venue.

“Last year was the ‘Year of the Miata’ with the launch of the all-new 2015 MX-5, but even a year into the sales of the fourth-generation roadster, that momentum has continued,” said Robert Davis, senior VP, U.S. Operations, Mazda North American Operations.

The one millionth Miata is right-hand drive, features a soft top and a 1.5-liter engine. The Mazda will be accompanied by the 15th Miata ever built, a classic red 1990 model that made its world debut at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show.

The first 240 fans at each tour stop will have the opportunity to sign the MX-5 and 400 guests will receive a “Millionth Miata Celebration Tour” T-shirt. Check out the tour dates below:

Dates, City, Location:

Aug. 18-21      Monterey, California                Mazda Raceway Leguna Seca

Aug. 25            Boston, Massachusetts         Quirk Mazda

Aug. 27            New York, New York               Wayne Mazda

Aug. 28            Philadelphia, Pennsylvania    Young Mazda

Sept. 2       Cleveland, Ohio                        Classic Mazda

Sept. 3       Chicago, Illinois                        Autobarn Evanston Mazda

Sept. 6       Indianapolis, Indiana               Tom Roush Mazda

Sept. 7       Columbus, Ohio                        Germain Mazda

Sept. 8       Charlotte, North Carolina        Mazda of South Charlotte

Sept. 9       Atlanta, Georgia                        Mall of Georgia Mazda

Sept. 10     Jacksonville, Florida                Duval Mazda at the Avenues

Sept. 17     Daytona Beach, Florida           Daytona Mazda

Sept. 23     Houston, Texas                        Grandsport Speedway

Sept. 24     Austin, Texas                            Roger Beasley Mazda

Sept. 25     Dallas, Texas                            Globe Life Stadium

Sept. 27     Pheonix, Arizona                      Earnhardt Mazda

Sept. 28     Los Angeles, California           Galpin, Mazda

Oct. 1-2         Monterey, California                 Mazda Raceway Leguna Seca

Next-Generation Mazda MX-5 Miata Could Use Carbon Fiber to Get Even Lighter


When it made its debut last year, the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata surprised and delighted by shrinking, not only in size but in weight. Dimensionally, it was pretty much the same size as the 1990 original, while its weight was down nearly to 1990 levels  but with more modern conveniences, a stiffer body, more power, and more airbags. Mazda isn’t stopping there. Car’s program manager mentioned that the next-generation Miata, due around 2021, will shed even more weight.

Critically, the next Miata won’t get any smaller. Project leader Nobuhiro Yamamoto tells that the size will stay much the same as it is today (which, by the way, is rather small). So instead, Mazda will keep the current car’s footprint but continue to chase weight out of the design. Yamamoto also notes in his comments to Autocar that Mazda hopes to do so by moving toward lightweight materials such as carbon fiber—the automaker is developing an affordable take on that material. Mazda seems to be relying on a cascade effect: lowering the mass of the structure and body allows for smaller brakes (lighter!), smaller wheels and tires (lighter!), and a smaller engine.

3’s Story: Mazda Updates 3 Sedan and Hatch for 2017

You may need to squint to see the differences, but Mazda has updated its 3 compact sedan and hatchback for the 2017 model year, releasing preliminary details overseas. The changes, most of which will carry over to the U.S. models, include a reworked front end with LED headlights and a revised interior, as well as the addition of a handful of new technologies.

If the recent facelift of the Mazda 6 is anything to go by, though, don’t be surprised if the 3’s new front end is limited strictly to higher-end models. In Mazda’s mid-size sedan, lower-end models with halogen headlights continue to use the car’s original headlight and bumper design. In contrast, expect the 3’s interior changes to be available across the entire lineup. The updated innards appear to include an all-new steering-wheel design, a tambour-style cover for the center-console-mounted cupholders (as seen in the 6), and some minor trim changes.

While the 3’s improved looks inside and out are appreciated, the compact car’s most noteworthy changes are technology related. The available head-up display is now full color, as in the Mazda CX-9, while the 3’s optional automatic braking system now uses a camera in place of a laser. Due to this, the system is now able to work at a greater speed range and detect pedestrians.

Finally, the 3 is the first Mazda product to use G-Vectoring Control. We had a chance to experience the impressive system last month, which can lightly reduce engine torque in a turn to improve steering response and reduce needed corrections. The effects of G-Vectoring Control are subtle but worthwhile, and we’re happy to see Mazda invest in improving the actual act of driving.
The new 3 is now on sale in Japan (where it’s called the Axela) and will reach Europe later this year. There’s no word on when North American consumers will be able to get their hands on the updated 3. We reached out to a Mazda representative, who would only confirm that a number of these changes and technological improvements—although not all of them—will be offered in the North American 2017 Mazda 3.

2016 Mazda CX-9

zda has an incredible talent for injecting athleticism into every vehicle it makes. It’s a consistency that starts with the company’s smallest hatch and runs all the way through to the largest crossover. Heck, Mazda could probably make a Conestoga wagon feel sporty if it wanted to. And one of the best examples of that know-how came in 2006 when the company launched its first three-row crossover, the CX-9.

The original CX-9 was a roomy seven-passenger family hauler that was actually fun to throw into a set of switchbacks. It made everyone else’s three-row crossover seem a little dull by comparison. However, 10 years is a long time to wait for a replacement. Last year the company moved a little over 18,000 CX-9s down from a high of almost 35,000 back in 2011. The CX-9 needed an update.

“From a corporate priority, it just got stacked up last to be redesigned,” says Mazda senior vice president of U.S. operations Robert Davis. “And I think it also suffered from being such a great car to begin with, so it was the one that could wait the longest”

Indeed, if you were to flip the CX-9 upside down, Davis says you’d certainly see similarities with other Mazda cars in the way parts are connected to the chassis. However, for use in the big CX-9, many of those parts have been scaled up and strengthened. The philosophy clearly works well for weight savings. Front-drive CX-9s have lost around 200 pounds over the old model, yet they’re about the same size. The wheelbase has been stretched by 2.2 inches but engineers shaved 1.2 inches from the overall length. Better still, they’ve cut more than 2 inches of overhang from both the nose and tail. Viewed in profile, it’s clear that the A-pillars are moved back further on this new model. It not only makes the CX-9 look more athletic but it draws attention to the longer hood, beneath which is the big news.

Mazda’s new turbocharged Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter four is 132 pounds lighter than the old V6. Perhaps more impressive is that it has been designed to deliver a healthy 310 lb-ft of torque way down at 2,000 rpm. That’s 40 lb-ft of torque more than the old V6. And Mazda says three-row crossover drivers appreciate a healthy serving of low-end torque much more than they do horsepower made high in the rpm range. So peak horsepower, Mazda reckons, is perhaps less important. The new four-cylinder makes 227 hp (250 hp on premium) at 5,000 rpm. If you’re counting, that’s 23 fewer hp than the old V6.