MX5 Performance Tuning tips


The Fantastic MX5 Eunos or Miata

The Mazda MX5 (also badged Miata and Eunos) is exactly what every small roadster must be.

They are superb at handling thanks partly to the great chassis design and the cars light weight.

It was actually an instant hit, when it was introduced from the late 80’s/early 90’s and each model revision sees improvements.

Tuning tips and articles

Its back to basics approach captured the spirit of a fun roadster and won the vehicle many fans.

One criticism thrown with the MX5 is the lack of power. Originally given just 2 engine options, a rather revvy and sporty sounding 1.6 and also the slightly more powerful 1.8. The first task then would be to uprate the strength. Thankfully Mazda have provided an excellent block that has substantial scope for improvement.


Internal modifications needs to include a fast road cam, ported and polished head by using a 3 angle valve job. Blueprinting and balancing the engine and fitting a low ratio gearbox will futher raise the cars appeal if budget allows. A lighter flywheel will make the vehicle rev more quickly and it seems that the MX5 becomes a significant different beast with a slightly lighter 10lbs flywheel. (NB: The auto will be difficult to drive in stop start traffic. when the flywheel is too light)

The clutch can be a different story and should be the primary upgrade before every other MX5 engine tuning is attempted especially if the mileage is becoming up there.

nimble and Small the sole criticism is a lack of power, add some sensible tuning modifications and you have a world class roadster.

Engine mods

One popular mod on the MX5 is adding forced induction. For all those newbies who think you can just bolt on a turbo or supercharger we need to state the obvious here, you can’t – considerably more is involved.

Whilst turbos can be added it seems slightly easier and makes economic sense to match a supercharger.

You will find that turbo engines need quite a few extra parts namely an exhaust manifold, intake piping and ideally stronger lower compression pistons and a diverter valve wheras a supercharger is pretty much a bolt on and remap upgrade.

There is still a lot of debate or arguments between the MX5 turbo owners and supercharged owners with regards to which is the most affordable, and which suits the auto the most.

Dyno results are generally fairly similar but the power delivery is incredibly much as a result of personal tastes. The supercharger has a linear smooth delivery and the turbo gives a fun wallop inside the back part way up the rev range. When this is properly setup you can hit power figures from the order of 200 to 300bhp or around 250 bhp on stock internals.

The stock engine may also benefit from some basic tuning modifications. Most owners will add an induction kit although the key benefits of this are questionable unless you also put in a cold air feed pipe. A sports sports and exhaust catalyst will free up a few more horsepower about the NASP versions and even more in case you have added forced induction using a bolt on turbo or supercharger kit.

handling and Suspension improvements

Handling is already very keen but adding some uprated suspension can dramatically improve the handling. All older models will benefit from the fitment new rubber bushes (bushings) as these tighten up the suspension especially should there be old broken down soggy suspension components. It must be noted that some owners reported worse handling with polyeurothane bushes as these reduce the passive rear steer effect (passive toe-in) that makes these cars so much fun.

The standard brakes on the MX-5 are great considering it’s light weight of the car and most owners consider the cost of bigger brakes to be a waste of money. However, for serious track days where you drive harder you should at the very least consider uprating the brakes. Fitting better pads will improve things but for the best effect you need to really get yourself a big brake disc conversion and 4,6 or 8 pot calipers.

Keep with 16 inch alloys for the best performance although 17 inch alloys might look marginally better to lots of people, it will stuff the handling and performance, smaller wheels are better from a performance viewpoint.

Comments are closed.