Tuners Fight Back Against Slow Roadsters

And so they should!

What’s up with Mazda Japan offering only the 1.5-liter Skyactiv engine option for the new ND Roadster? It’s a sweet chassis, it’s all about the handling and it makes you work hard to get the most out of it – I know, because I’ve driven the thing. But in this day and age, 129hp is about as exciting as watching paint dry, even when it’s dropped into a car that weighs under 1000kg. And especially when the rest of the world gets a 155hp, 2.0-liter variant of the sports convertible.

‘Be a Driver’ the tag line on Mazda Japan’s website tells us. Yeah right. Give us exciting engines and we’ll do our best to be proper drivers!


But it’s okay, because the Japanese aftermarket is stepping up to deliver where Mazda hasn’t. From turbo and supercharger kits to simple bolt-ons that at least add a touch of excitement and sound – there is something for everyone. Except the owner of this interesting example I came across at last weekend’s Mooneyes Hot Rod Custom Show in Yokohama.

This is a guy who obviously wants to do things differently, and to achieve it he’s called in the help of a shop that likes to do things very differently – S&A Auto Create. His request was a simple one: give the car a nice and healthy 500hp and a handling and braking package able to take the boost in performance.

For the power side of the equation, the goal is being achieved through a selection of bottom end upgrades, custom head work and a Precision turbo on a one-off manifold that positions it at the front of the engine to make full use of the space the ND hides under its hood.


On top of retro-style Barramundi Sunder wheels, you’ll find a Wilwood brake package comprised of 4-pot calipers and biggest drilled rotors that could fit inside the barrels.


Given its uniqueness, the build is being followed by Daytona magazine.


Needless to say, we’ll definitely be finding out what this Roadster performs like once it’s all completed. 500hp per tonne is definitely our idea of fun, and slightly more than Mazda Japan planned for the little ND!

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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i like the lightness of the Mx-5... ( i'm almost into my 3rd month of ownership of my NB and i loved every moment so far :) ) but why mazda is not giving the right engine  from the start? i'm not saying to put 500hp like this example in the article,but let's say... 200 would be a right number for me


Get a used ND in a while, then go to BBR or Flyin Miata for a 200+hp NA tuning package, or a ~250hp turbo kit.


To be perfectly honest I preferred the 1.5 over the 2.0 when I test drove the ND. The 2 liter turns it into a car you want to tour with, while the 1.5 loves to be revved all the way to the redline.
The basic fiat 124 was my favorite of the three though. Feels just like the base ND but then you get that lovely push when the turbo kicks in.
However both cars come with seats that aren't made for my 6'2" body. The ND's sport package seats are the exception.


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I don't get buying a new car and then changing the engine, brakes AND handling.
You've probably bought the wrong car...


rook56 well take all those parts off and there still is the chassis, so fundamentally, there are still proportions to think about.


MarcelloSpineda I agree. 200 would make it just the right amount of fun, on par with the 86


rook56 Well, suspension, brakes, wheels/tires and exhaust is the first step to pretty much any car out there IMO. Engine, they aren't changing, they are boosting, and that's because it's just not powerful enough.

Pete the perfect pilot

All they need to do is make a rotary option. Simple Today's Mazda management is so lame, there's no passion that their predessors had in abundance. The late Takahasi ohashi of Mazda auto Tokyo had the vision and passion to take the factory with him which ultimately led to the 1991 le Mans victory. On the way it allowed Mazda to build their race programme on what made them most unique, and was the DNA within the company. Having owned 5 rotary Mazdas, a mx5 is what Mazda should have done from the beginning, but it's no too late


speedhunters_dino MarcelloSpineda GT86 that a lot of people judge not powerfull enough ...
You could always had more power, I suppose that depend what you're looking for in a car :).
Besides if I understood well tuning a car is a lot more easy to do legaly in Japan than for example in Italy, France or Belgium. In this way maybe a unique motor option and more sense... (just thinking out loud ;) )


Pete the perfect pilot Been saying this since the NB came out. RX5? No brainer...


Pete the perfect pilot unfortunately Mazda won't be producing a rotary anymore. And its not due to lack of passion or engineering insight, its emissions. And as an OEM they can't anymore. Plain and simple. It sucks, but that's the facts.


Nothing like flames out the hood!


Any Info on the little wagon next door?


K swap it.


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I would in JDM car industry there is a big "fun" hole, that needs to be filled, and if I was Nissan's Manager, I would want to fill this hole with so much passion, fun, pedigree, and history, simply, bring back the S-Chassis, period.
Put the Z on diet and drop in a 3.0 Turbo V6
Bring back the Laurel, and all the other sport sedans of the 70's, and 80's.
There has to be a cheaper version, naturally aspirated/high compression, I6 motor for the Skyline, and it has to loose almost a third of it's weight


we need proper sportscar engines in the new sporty cars. an MX5 is fun on the twisties, but when you get back down to a flat road and an automatic VW Passat diesel wagon can outrun you with ease, it kinda spoils the fun.


The skyactiv motor has potential, it's just basically running as lean(as lean as 15.2:1 at idle I think) and mpg focused as it possibly can. Just an ECU tune can add at least 20hp with no mods, possibly more with higher octane. BBR gti has gotten the 2.0L to make a bit over 250hp on just 6psi on a fairly large turbo(for future upgrades) with minimal lag and a very broad torque curve.

But ofc the car itself is kind of expensive, and the tunes are as well. So this isn't really an attractive option until used cars start to depreciate.


Mahfoodh is the GT86 considered a big business success? not really. i wanted people to buy the Toyobaru because it could have raised other manufacturers interests in making not-so-expensive but still fun cars, but that wont happen, sadly.


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I'd rather take the original 129 bhp than this. I enjoy balance in a car and like to be able to take everything out of it instead of just backing of all the time. Being fast on a straight line is irrelevant.

Relatively low power, light, balanced chassis and good steering is my idea of a fun street car. Decent fuel economy is an added benefit. There seems to be someone at Mazda who thinks like me.


I completely understand where the Japanese manufacturers are coming from, you don't need big power to put a smile on your face. A stock 1.6 NA MX5 is the perfect example of that, with only 115bhp and weighing 1 tonne they feel epic in the twisties, ok they will get outrun in a straight line by most diesel euroboxes but that's not what they are about. I've owned 2 of them in the past (admittedly one was a 200bhp turboed one which was hilarious!) and as long as you fit in them they are utterly brilliant cars and a great entry into the world of performance vehicles.

Having said that I do think there is a hole in the market at the moment, other than the Toyubaru there are no 2-300bhp lightweight, cheapish rwd coupes on sale any more. Ok there is the BMW M2/240i and the 370Z but they are not exactly what I would call cheap. We need a new Silvia, a larger tin top MX, a replacement for the S2k, fun 2 seater / 2+2's for people who want a quick car but don't want a hot hatch.

Given the current arms race in the hot hatch market there are plenty of engines which would suit them, Just imagine a Focus sized rwd coupe with the RS engine in it, or a rwd Scirocco with the Golf R engine, or the new Civic Type R lump in a new S2k, a Nissan / Renault with the RS275 lump or even a proper version of the Toyubaru with a turbo...

I can't be the only one who feels like this can I?




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That turbo setup on the gold-topped engine is beautiful...


abezzegh87 Mahfoodh And, if you're like me (6 foot, 230 lbs.), you can't actually fit into it comfortably.


That Porter Van next to it looks interesting....does it have a big hp modern engine swap to go with those tubs!


Mook Genius Pete the perfect pilot I thought they were in plans of trying to bring the rotary back with the RX Vision? Heard rumours they were on track of reducing emissions?


Jocky speedhunters_dino MarcelloSpineda tuning a car here in italy is almost impossible (at least if you wanna follow the law)... example: i would have liked to put 16" on my nb,but i would have gone to the italian equivalent of the dmv and pay 150€ just to modify the wheel size section of  the veichle certificate + the price of wheels and tires.... and that's only the wheels... imagine if you wanna do something more intrusive....


you are right


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And that's why their sales haven't matched the toyubaru's or even got close. Nobody wants a 100hp car


???? They've sold soooo many more than they even expected to due to this huge gap in this part of the car market. You should do your homework on sales numbers


True, I almost feel that since they are in competition with one another for the same buyers in many instances that Mazda should make the mx5 with comparable horsepower numbers. People care about HP these days and will too often go with whatever has more and not think about much else


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is there more information on this vehicle? What was done bottom end + head work etc?


Therealstig Where are you getting your figures? I can't find many, but those I can suggest that as soon as the ND MX-5 arrived it immediately began outselling the 86/FRS/BRZ. The NC didn't, but then the NC was getting pretty old by the time the Toyobaru arrived.


I like how he went with the low end turbo
It adds punch to the engine without costing an arm and a leg.