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In Defense of the New Engine - 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Convertible Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Posts: 10,059
edited July 2016 in Mazda
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In Defense of the New Engine - 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Convertible Long-Term Road Test

While some drivers of our 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata are disappointed by the 2.0-liter engine's personality, there are benefits to usability and fuel economy that shouldn't be ignored.

Read the full story here


Comments

  • ebeaudoinebeaudoin NE IllinoisPosts: 509
    Gosh I would LOVE to see a comparison to the Fiat 124 Spider. Or a long-term test of one. It would just be such a cool comparison. You'd have to spec the manual again, though.
  • barich1barich1 Posts: 143
    The Skyactiv engines are undersquare, whereas the MZR was oversquare. Given the torque curve and fuel economy, it's hard to argue with the change from a numbers standpoint. But lack of high revving character can feel less fun depending on your definition of it.
  • craigo7craigo7 Posts: 51
    High rev more suited for being on a track... where committed drivers will re-tune the engine anyway
  • daryleasondaryleason TexasPosts: 501
    Frankly, I'm leaning towards this post's viewpoint. The Miata has always used the "pedestrian" version of Mazda's bread and butter four cylinder engine. Only the "special" Miatas had something much different from the average four cylinder that Mazda was squeezing into their other cars. It was how Mazda made their profit margins work when the purchase price of a Miata was so low. Save weight, keep the engine simple, make money.
  • The Miata is the perfect car a small displacement turbo engine like the one in the Civic. Unfortunately it's not going to happen. Mazda has spent a lot of money developing their new SkyActiv engine family and I'm sure funds are low for starting over. Also, they lost money on the diesel engine that they could never get to pass emission tests. Mazda invested in developing 2.0 and greater displacement NA engines while Honda and others were developing smaller turbocharged engines to replace their larger displacement NA engines.
  • bc1960bc1960 Pittsburgh, PAPosts: 171
    Even revved to its peak, the S2000 2.0l engine only produced 5 more lb-ft of torque than the Miata, although 80-some more hp. So I suspect the Mazda may indeed have a more friendly torque curve for the average driver. And Honda's 18/24/20 mpg fuel economy might be disappointing in a modern 2.0l turbo, though premium gas is "cheap" now.
  • Mazda spent all of its (not very much) money on the platform and taking weight out of the car. They had nothing left for the drivetrain, and so they are using an economy car engine that has a very low specific output and a very low power peak occurring at low rpm, of a fairly large displacement for such a lightweight car.

    Mazda didn't "engineer-in" any substantial improvements in adapting this engine to the Miata - even though they made some modifications that would in most engines result in some power increases, and specified premium fuel, which all by itself would seem to make some power increase, the SkyActiv 2.0 is such a pedestrian lump that that didn't happen. The vast majority of the powertrain money Mazda spent here was in adapting a FWD transverse engine to a north/south RWD layout. That's it. It makes a normal amount of torque for its size, at pretty low rpm, because it's an undersquare design with very mild cam timing with Atkinson-cycle capability for good mpg, designed to push a 2900-pound hatchback around acceptably well while never exceeding 4000 rpm in normal use.

    Does it make pretty good midrange torque in a Miata? Yeah...I mean, the car this engine was actually designed for is 600 lbs heavier than a Miata, Take a look around for some perspective...most of the world's 2300-pound cars are using 1.5 liter engines, not 2.0 liter engines.
  • I own an AP2 S2000 and I personally believe the Miata is faster in daily driving duties. Why? Comparing torque curves, the S2k does not surpass the Miata until after 5k rpms. That's pure tq. vs. tq numbers not even taking into account the lower mass of the Miata. Where I live with dense traffic, it's pretty rare I get to take the S2k to past 5k rpms much less redline. Hence, it's not my daily driver but my track and fun weekend car.
  • csubowtiecsubowtie Posts: 143

    The Miata is the perfect car a small displacement turbo engine like the one in the Civic. Unfortunately it's not going to happen. Mazda has spent a lot of money developing their new SkyActiv engine family and I'm sure funds are low for starting over. Also, they lost money on the diesel engine that they could never get to pass emission tests. Mazda invested in developing 2.0 and greater displacement NA engines while Honda and others were developing smaller turbocharged engines to replace their larger displacement NA engines.

    The Miata is/has always been a momentum car, a gentleman drivers car. That moment in a curve when you are balancing outright speed with the drag of tire scrub, and you are using the throttle to control weight transfer. And that's all the power a Miata really needs. A turbo would interfere with that purity. Trying to balance the grip between the front and rear tires is an art of it's own. Having to account for and correct for the boost building as you gas it, and then dumping every time you lift even a little, would ruin that experience. And a Miata with anti-lag technology would be obnoxious, expensive, and almost assuredly less reliable and less efficient.

    As for the S2000 specialness, not everybody wants to be buzzing off 6000 rpm upshifts while leisurely tootling to the grocery store. That kind of specialness may be acceptable to some people, and cars exist for that reason, see Nissan 370Z.

  • misterfusionmisterfusion Posts: 471

    The Miata is the perfect car a small displacement turbo engine like the one in the Civic. Unfortunately it's not going to happen...

    Sure it is...in the Fiat 124. And if you don't like the stock output of that engine, good news -- it's one of the most moddable things out there.
  • metalmaniametalmania Posts: 167
    Without jumping into the usual tug of war about the actual power output (I think bumping up to 180hp would be plenty), I think the broader/flatter torque curve for this engine is the right choice for a street car. Personally, for driving on normal roads where you're constantly having to slow down and speed up again without often being able to really wind it out - I think a strong mid-range is actually more satisfying. Track duty is a different animal where you're trying to stay near the limit all the time. In the real world, race cars don't always make great road cars.
  • kirkhilles1kirkhilles1 Posts: 863
    The S2000 (at least my understanding of it) is that to enjoy it, you HAVE to rev the sucker up which isn't particularly good for long term reliability, nor something you want to do all-the-freaking-time. Otherwise, I've heard that's not particularly enjoyable. That's what I love about the new Civic Turbo. Power across the board, doesn't fee like its a Turbo.
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