When Mazda went back to the basics on its fourth-generation MX-5 Miata, we deemed it a mighty fine, if modestly powered, effort. It appears Mazda wants to address said power, among other changes, with a host of updates on the 2019 MX-5 — a car that marks four model years into the current generation and nearly 30 calendar years since the first-gen original hit U.S. shores.
The 2019 MX-5 Miata goes on sale in the fall. We know MX-5 purists want to pore over every iota of updates on their beloved roadster, but let's start with what we don't know: pricing, gas mileage and full soup-to-nuts specifications — except weight, which Mazda says is up just 7 pounds for 2019.
With that, here are three things we do know:
1. Power Up!
Thanks to a host of improvements — higher-pressure fuel injectors, rejiggered intake ports, improved exhaust flow, lighter connecting rods and more — the MX-5's SkyActiv 2.0-liter four-cylinder boasts 17 percent more horsepower and a trace more torque. It now makes 181 hp and 151 pounds-feet of torque, up from the prior 155 hp and 148 pounds-feet. Torque peak is 600 rpm lower, while the engine now redlines at 7,500 rpm instead of the prior 6,800 rpm, and Mazda spokesman Jacob Brown promises the 2.0-liter is "more powerful across the board."
2. Improved Engine Response
Engine response, meanwhile, should benefit from a dual-mass flywheel that replaces the prior (single-mass) unit. That should aid revving response, while the optional automatic transmission gets a sprightlier final-drive ratio (now 3.58:1 versus the prior 3.45:1) and no gearing changes. That should improve acceleration, though we find it hard to care much for the needs of automatic-transmission Miata owners. Fuel economy might take a hit, but Mazda said EPA figures have yet to be released. The manual transmission remains unchanged both in terms of gearing and final drive.
3. More Convenience, Safety Features
Mazda cites easier-to-open doors, a newly available brown canvas top and revisions to the cupholders and seat adjusters for 2019. As required on all passenger cars for 2019, a backup camera will become standard on the MX-5; traffic-sign recognition and low-speed automatic emergency braking are also now available. Oh, and for the first time in the nameplate's history, the car gets a telescoping steering wheel. Its range is 1.65 inches, which ranks in the 52nd percentile of Cars.com's Steering-Column Telescoping Index ... OK, we're kidding — we index our fair share of things around here, but not that.
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