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First look: Factory MX-5 turbo

Turbo charge: Mazda Roadster Turbo will be known as MX-5 SE in Australia.

Mazda builds an MX-5 turbo concept for Japan, the US and Australia

20 Oct 2003

TWO years after its local arm did the same in Sydney, Mazda Motor Corporation will use this week’s Tokyo motor show to unveil a turbocharged version of the current MX-5 called the Roadster Turbo, which will go on sale here in February next year.

To be dubbed the MX-5 SE and sold as an ongoing model here, the factory's topless turbo receives a milder power boost than the locally developed MX-5 Turbo, just 100 of which were released in January 2002.

Expected to be priced at least $5000 more at around $46,000 - and to be made available only in Japan, the US and Australia - the SE will feature a number of MX-5 firsts including 17-inch wheels, a limited-slip differential, Bilstein suspension and a bodykit comprising extra-large air intake, recessed fog lamps, boot spoiler and rear under spoiler.

Australian performance specifications are yet to be finalised but in Japan the turbocharged and intercooled 1.8-litre DOHC four is expected to develop more than 124kW, with most of its 200Nm of torque available between 2500rpm and 5500rpm.

That's up around 20 per cent on the current MX-5's 107kW/168Nm peak figures, but well down on Mazda Australia's homegrown turbo, which produced 157kW and 289Nm.

As such, the SE's 0-100km/h time is expected to fall from the standard MX-5's 8.4 seconds to about 7.8 seconds, with a modified final gear ratio (4.100, up from 3.910) also said to improve in-gear acceleration.

Other driveline changes for MX-5 SE include a more efficient radiator, upgraded clutch, propeller shaft and differential, and harder rubber is used for the engine and differential mounts. Bilstein shocks accompany 20 per cent stiffer, 10mm lower springs and beefier anti-roll bars at both ends (front up 1mm, rear up 2mm).

Inside, the SE cabin benefits from the upgrades introduced this month to the rest of the standard MX-5 range, which is now priced from $40,530 in four-speed auto and six-speed manual form.

On top of regular models' larger wind deflector with two extra speakers, red seat inserts, red gearknob and park brake cover stitching, and new alloy-look centre dash, air vents, door handles and gearshift surround, the SE adds drilled alloy pedals, red brake callipers and 215/40 R17 tyres.

The MX-5 SE will be available in three metallic colors - Velocity Red, Titanium Grey or Sunlight Silver.

A turbocharged version of Mazda’s iconic roadster is obviously aimed at increasing awareness and therefore sales of MX-5 in the last 18 months of its life before being replaced (by a successor that will look like the Ibuki concept car revealed at the 2003 Tokyo show – see separate story) in 2005.

Similarly, a coupe version of the world’s top-selling sports car also surfaced recently, but unfortunately this will remain a Japan-only model.

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