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The 2nd Generation Mazda MX-5 (NB)

In 1998 Mazda released the second generation MX-5, then known as the NB models. The NB featured a more powerful engine with external styling cues borrowed from the third generation Mazda RX-7 model. Prices in the United States, the main market for the MX-5, started at $19,770

Although many parts of the interior and body were different the most notable changes were the headlights. The retractable headlights were no longer passed by pedestrian safety tests and were replaced with fixed units. The new NB was slightly larger when compared to the earlier model. Its dimensions were:

  • Length - 3,945 mm (155.3 in)
  • Width - 1,678 mm (66.1 in)
  • Height 1,228 mm (48.3 in)
  • Wheelbase - 2,265 mm (89.2 in)

Without options, the NB weighed exactly 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) and was slightly more aerodynamic than the original with a Cd figure of 0.36

The NB continued to employ four-wheel independent suspension with enlarged anti-roll bars at the front and rear. The wheels, tyres and brakes were significantly upgraded and an anti-lock braking system was offered as an option. Alloy wheels were now either 14J (360 mm) or 15J (380 mm) in diameter and 6" (150 mm) wide depending on the trim package. Sports models were equipped with the larger wheels and 195/50VR15 tires

The BP-4W engine remained at 1.8 L (110 cu in) but received several minor changes. The engine compression ratio was raised from 9.0:1 to 9.5:1 by adding slightly domed pistons. The intake cam was changed to a solid lifter type using a stronger cam. The intake runners in the head were straightened and the intake manifold was mounted higher. Mazda's Variable Intake Control System was introduced which effectively gave a long narrow intake manifold at low RPM for better swirl, changing to a short, free-flowing manifold at high RPM for maximum breathing. Power output of the new engine was quoted at 106 kW (142 bhp) with 116 ft·lbf (157 N·m) of torque

The base-model 1.8 L (110 cu in) NB could reach 60 mph (97 km/h) in 7.9 s and had a top speed of 197 km/h (122 mph). The 1.6 L (98 cu in) B6 engine remained available in Europe and Japan

In 1999 Mazda celebrated 10 years of production with the 10th Anniversary Model, a limited edition featuring six-speed transmission and Bilstein shock absorbers. Performance figures were slightly different, with faster acceleration but lower top speed than the standard 1.8 L (110 cu in)

In 2001 a face-lift model was released. Some cockpit elements were changed with the instrument panel gauges receiving a white face and red numbers. The seats were also upgraded and incorporated more support in the side bolsters and taller headrests. 16" alloy wheels with 205/45VR16 low-profile tires and larger brakes at the front and rear were fitted to top end models. The upgraded tires and suspension allowed the new model to pull 0.88 g in lateral grip in tests by Car and Driver magazine. The body was strengthened, gaining 16% in bending rigidity and 22% in torsional rigidity. With the minimum of options, the 2001 model weighed 1,065 kg (2,350 lb)

The 1.8 L (110 cu in) BP-Z3 engine was slightly modified and now featured variable valve timing on the intake camshaft. The intake and exhaust system also received a minor upgrade. These modifications resulted in a power output of 117 kW (157 bhp) (Japan and Australia) or 110 kW (150 bhp) (US and Europe)

In the United States, Mazda quoted the power figure for the Japanese and Australian model in early catalogues. Car and Driver magazine and numerous owners confirmed the missing power and Mazda offered to buy back the 2001 cars due to those misleading power claims. Owners who did not take up the buy back offer were offered an apology and free servicing for the warranty period

2002 saw the launch of the MX5 SP. The MX-5 SP was developed and sold in Australia and its turbo charged engine produced 157 kW (211 bhp) at 6800 rpm. Only 100 of these cars were built. The SP was very expensive in comparison to a standard MX-5 at the time yet offered blistering performance

In 2003 Mazda launched a campaign to target a younger group of drivers with the introduction of the Shinsen Version (SV) Miata. The Shinsen, Japanese for "Fresh and New" provided an intermediate step between the base model and the more expensive LS. Equipped with most standard features on the LS such as cruise control and aluminum brush trim, the SV added a touch of comfort and style without a hefty price tag. This limited production model also shared an inverted color scheme of the same year Special Edition. With a titanium silver exterior, dark blue top and interior the Shinsen Version was a handsome addition to the Miata family

The 2004 model year saw the introduction of the official turbocharged Mazdaspeed MX-5 Roadster Turbo in Japan. It featured an IHI turbocharger equipped BPT engine that produced 178 bhp (133 kW) at 6000 rpm with a front-mounted air-to-air intercooler. Other features included special suspension, upgraded transmission and clutch assemblies, upgraded drive train components, Racing Hart 17"(430 mm) alloy wheels, special interior trim

The 2004 Mazdaspeed MX-5 was only available in Velocity Red Mica and Titanium Gray Metallic while the 2005 model was available additionally in Lava Orange Mica and Black Mica.

Of the 5,428 Mazdaspeed MX-5s produced during model years 2004 and 2005, 4,000 were produced in 2004. The 2005 production run was shortened to only 1428, due to a fire at the production facility. Also during the 2004 model year, a division of Mazda in Japan produced the Roadster Coupé, with an integral hardtop roof. The body structure was reworked to incorporate the roof for a substantial increase in chassis rigidity and a weight increase of 10 kg (22 lb). Production was limited to 350 units for Japan only


© Bourne Road Garage Ltd. 2011

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