Brackley-based BBR has long been associated with Mazda’s MX-5, producing a run of Mazda-approved turbocharged models in the early days of the first-generation car.
Quarter of a century on, BBR still offers tuning packages for the MX-5 – and its latest focuses on the latest-generation Mk4 car, with up to 190bhp available from the 2-litre version.
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Three new packages are available. Buyers of the affordable 1.5-litre car have the option of a new Super 160 upgrade, which improves output by 20bhp.
In theory, that should take the car from 129bhp to 149bhp, but BBR’s standard 1.5-litre shop car appears to have developed a few extra horses on the dyno, registering 137.5bhp. That gives the Super 160 a 158bhp output.
That's a significant increase in such a light car (not to mention more than 100bhp/litre), as is the 15lb ft gain in torque. Once again, BBR’s 1.5 baseline of 117.5lb ft is higher than Mazda’s quoted 111lb ft, resulting in a torque figure of 132lb ft at 4700rpm.
Surprisingly, all that’s required to see these gains is BBR’s Starchip ECU software upgrades, that optimise camshaft, ignition timing and fueling across the rev range, with a higher rev limit. The benefit of this simplicity is low cost: the upgrades, plus before and after dyno readings, cost £495.
On a car that starts from £18,495 it’s a useful way of improving output, though buyers opting for the £20,095 2-litre model can pay the same £495 for the Super 175+ package. The headline figures here are 177bhp and 162lb ft, up from the standard 158bhp and 148lb ft.
Spend £1995 and BBR can extract even more from the 2-litre four-pot as part of the Super 190 upgrade. This adds a BBR cold air intake system, 2.5-inch diameter manifold, 2.5-inch exhaust centre section and catalyst, and twin-tailpipe back section to the Starchip ECU upgrade.
BBR’s dyno run saw figures of 190bhp at 6700rpm and torque of 176lb ft – with a 150lb ft spread between 2500-6500rpm. A lightweight sports silencer and 4-into-1 manifold are also available, both reducing weight and adding a further 2bhp.
It’s not all about power either – for £495 BBR will supply and install a set of sport springs, designed to improve the car’s handling with the standard Bilstein dampers. A further £195 will install a set of high-performance road and trackday brake pads, while BBR offers wheel and tyre packages for extra grip.
The company notes that all upgrades are fully reversible and all are MOT emissions compliant. If you’ve been disappointed by the MX-5’s handling and performance until now, they could be just the upgrades to change your mind.