2016 Mazda MX-5 1.5 vs. 2.0 Drag Race Solves the Miata Acceleration Mystery

2016 Mazda MX-5 1.5 vs. 2.0 Drag Race Solves Miata Mistery 1 photo
Photo: Screenshot from YouTube
This is a question that not all Miata buyers have to face. The US only gets the 2.0-liter Skyactiv engine on the MX-5 and Japan has only the 1.5-liter one. But there are several places in the world where both are available, including Australia.
The Land Down Under is where this drag race was filmed by the guys at Motor Magazine. From the outside, these cars are identical except for the paint. However, the grey car has a 1.5-liter engine, and the red one gets the 2-liter one.

In both cases, they are naturally aspirated four-cylinder units matched with 6-speed manual gearboxes. Their outputs are quite similar, as 131 PS isn't that far off from 160 PS. Mazda has put a lot of effort into making the most power-dense naturally aspirated 1.5-liter engine because it needed to reduce the MX-5's overall weight below one metric ton. It's small, but it revs like crazy and feels a lot more powerful than the 1.5 you find in the Mazda2.

As for the 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G engine, it's actually got slightly less power than on the NC model, not that you can feel it with the lighter chassis. 160 hp is not a lot in the era of turbocharged hot hatchbacks that compete with Porsche 911s using the same displacement. but the MX-5 has always been about Horse and Rider and that kind of stuff.

The less powerful of the two models was clocked at 0 to 100 km/h in 7.9 seconds while the 2-liter Miata did it in 6.97 seconds. By the end of the 400 meter stretch of asphalt (approximately a quarter-mile), it had also pulled a lead of almost one second and 8 km/h.

We've seen similar differences between hot hatchbacks of different classes, such as a Golf GTI vs. an R or a Clio RS against the Megane. In the real world, if the driver of the 2.0 sucked at changing gear, you could have almost caught him.

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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