BBR has boosted the Mk3 Mazda MX-5 to 224bhp | Top Gear
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BBC TopGear

BBR has boosted the Mk3 Mazda MX-5 to 224bhp

And not a turbo in sight. 2.0-litre gets throttle bodies for more power and torque

Published: 26 Jun 2020

A UK-based tuner has modified an old Mazda MX-5, and we’ve got three words as to why you should care: independent throttle bodies.

In the age of downsized, turbocharged engines with little charm, tuner BBR has instead turned to the tried and tested (and very excellent) method of installing individual throttle bodies to each of the Mk3 MX-5’s four cylinders. As any E46 BMW M3 owner knows, ITBs are ace.

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Headlines first. Power from that naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-pot now rises by a whopping 67bhp and 36lb ft of torque, to record final figures of 224bhp (at 7,550rpm) and 174lb ft of torque (at 5,950rpm). BBR reckons more than 150lb ft of torque is available at just over 3,000rpm, too, so it’s no toppy, unusable mod.

Indeed, the idea is for this to be “ideally suited to town, touring and track days”, and when pootling around – say, on the motorway – the cabin noise is “acceptable”. Flatten the accelerator – putting those four throttle bodies to good work – and we’re promised a “distinctive, addictive intake bark”. Woof.

The ITBs measure 45mm each, and are ‘direct to head’ billet alloy DCOE items, combined with alloy inlet ram pipes with dyno-tuned lengths and a ‘curved form factor’ to avoid unnecessary bodywork mods. Because of course, part of this whole thing is to make it as OEM as poss.

The ECU has been recalibrated, the factory drive-by-wire throttle remains, and it can be run on 98 or 95 octane fuel. Other mods include a stainless steel '4 into 1' exhaust manifold and new exhaust pipes, new cams, a bespoke BBR air rail, and the option of a foam air filter.

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All in, the whole lot will cost £4,295 – you basically drive your MX-5 to Brackley, and BBR do everything for you. If you fancy skinning your own knuckles and swearing indeterminately at the sky, a DIY option is available for just £3,495. There’s a 10 per cent discount on any ITB DIY purchase before 31 July, so think fast.

“The conversion is fully reversible to stock in future should the owner decide to do so,” explains BBR’s Neil McKay. Not sure why you’d ever want to remove individual throttle bodies, but it’s there if you wish…

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