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Mazda Unveils Turbo MX-5 at LA Auto Show

Shown MX5SE - will go on sale around $46,000

Based on Mazda Press Release - January 5, 2004

The LA Motor Show was the venue for Mazda to show its turbocharged MX-5 which will go on sale in May in Australia at a price point of just $46,000.

At that price, it's almost certain to invigorate the roadster marketplace with a high level of performance and style at a remarkable price point.

Fitted with a ball-bearing single-scroll turbocharger with 7.25 psi maximum boost and an air-to-air intercooler, the 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine now makes 178 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 166 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm, 25 and 33 percent more respectively than the normally aspirated MX-5.

To handle the extra power from the turbocharging system, the engine block is modified to accommodate the oil line for the turbo, the cooling system receives an increased radiator core volume with increased coolant capacity, the six-speed manual transmission, clutch and pressure plate, driveshaft and differential all have been optimized, and a Denso tube-fin air-to-air intercooler added. The piston shapes have also been modified to increase displacement volume in the cylinders and handle the extra fuel-air mixture provided by the turbocharger.

Keeping the MX-5SE cool as its turbocharged engine blazes are two additional oil cooler plate pieces, allowing the oil more time to cool before it recycles through the engine. Harder rubber is also used for the engine and differential mountings to account for increased torque and avoid flexing and wearing due to more extreme temperature changes under the hood.

These precise engine modifications, combined with a short-throw, six-speed gearbox with improved gear durability and sport-tuned and lowered suspension, makes for an amazingly quick and agile car. The already-able MX-5SE chassis gets dropped 7mm in ride height through the use of red-painted, shorter springs with increased spring rates. Silver Bilstein dampers soak up vibration while larger front and rear stabilizer bars and a silver-painted front strut tower brace increase chassis rigidity and improve road-holding capability.

Mazda engineers meticulously tuned the suspension to get the most out of the turbocharged powerplant, deftly handling the brute power sent through the Bosch torque-sensing limited slip differential to the 17-inch Racing Hart aluminum alloy wheels shod with Toyo Proxes R28 205/40R17 80W high-performance tires (the first time a Miata has been offered with a 17-inch wheel and tire package). The MX-5SE also receives a quicker steering ratio since the rack stroke was reduced more than 7mm from the standard MX-5. All four corners receive silver-painted brake calipers and ABS.

When raised, a black vinyl soft top covers black cloth seats with red centers, red door inserts, and a black leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and handbrake with red stitching. A unique curl-fit finish adorns the center stack panel and shift panel. Standard audio is a 225-watt six-speaker Bose' sound system with six-disc CD changer and speed-sensing automatic volume control. A black cloth soft top with black leather bucket seats and red stitching are optional with the Grand Touring Package'the only factory option available.

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