The third-generation Mazda MX-5 1.8 was something of an underdog even before the new fourth-generation MX-5 came along with better looks and a lighter chassis.
Now, Brackley-based BBR has extended its tuning expertise to the less powerful of the “NC” MX-5s with a new Super 175 package.
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Alterations follow a similar theme to that of both the newer MX-5s and BBR’s existing Super 200 package for the third-generation 2-litre cars.
Pleasingly, it’s almost all “old-school” tuning methods owing to the car’s naturally-aspirated engine. It starts with a pair of camshafts with different timing and lift profiles to the standard car, helping increase both the spread of power and the peak output. Breathing is further enhanced with a new panel air filter and a 4-into-1 tubular exhaust manifold, while an ECU upgrade manages the alterations wrought by the physical changes.
The result is not just a peak output of 175bhp at 7300rpm compared to an official 124bhp at 6500rpm from the standard 1.8 - a 51bhp gain, or 39bhp as measured on BBR’s dyno. Torque too has increased to 143lb ft (from 123lb ft), but BBR also claims significant power gains from 3000rpm, so it’s not all about top-end power.
The standard exhaust system has been retained to the benefit of long-distance comfort and subtlety, but a pair of tailpipe trims allow it to stand out a little more than the regular car, while a small spoiler and BBR badging are equally low-key.
Pricing starts at £1914 (including VAT) if you’re prepared to fit everything yourself, or £2394 for a drive-in drive-out installation. BBR can also offer chassis upgrades for those wishing for a sharper drive as well as more performance.
Best of all, it’s possible to find early 1.8-litre MX-5s for as little as £3000 in the classifieds, so a tidy one of those would make a great basis for a fairly rapid, inexpensive sports car.