BBR Super 200 Mazda MX-5 – quick drive review

Let’s face it – it doesn’t matter how many times internet car-geeks say the default answer to ‘what car should I buy?’ is the MX-5, there’s no escaping the fact that Mazda‘s little roadster isn’t a fast car. It’s not sluggish by any means, but the third-generation roadster coupe only just about dashes from 0-60mph in eight seconds, and that’s with the top-spec 2.0-litre engine. That’s barely any faster than the very first 1.8-litre Mk1 cars that arrived in the UK 20 years ago.

Enter BBR. MX-5 fans will need no introduction to the Brackley-based company. It was BBR who first put a turbocharger onto the original 1.6-litre MX-5 and the model was officially sold by Mazda badged as the ‘MX-5 BBR Turbo’. This latest model isn’t turbocharged, but nonetheless BBR has given it a bit of extra poke to help the MX-5′s looks match up to its performance.

Dubbed ‘Super 200′, this suite of modifications kicks the MX-5′s power output to just over 200hp, which is quite a bit in such a small car. The tuning package includes an engine remap, reprofiled camshafts, a high-flow air filter and a new four-into-one exhaust manifold (where the exhaust ports for all four cylinders meet in the same place, giving more power). BBR will supply the whole caboodle as a DIY kit for £1,695 or fit for you for £2,195 (discounted for cars with existing BBR packages).

The effect of all these gubbins is to increase power peak to 7,450rpm while moving the torque peak down over 1,000rpm to provide a bit more grunt – you get more power at every point of the rev range.

The kit also includes BBR-branded exhaust tailpipes and exterior badging, and there’s an option to upgrade the entire exhaust system for £745 for even more power and torque gains. Best bit? It’s available from a small number of Mazda dealers, so you don’t have to head down the M40 to get your car tweaked.

How does it drive?

On a quick drive through the Northamptonshire countryside, the Super 200 kit impressed us. As BBR leaves the majority of the car untouched, it looks, feels and drives just like any regular Mk3 MX-5 – a little better on the cruise if anything thanks to that extra bit of torque working lower down. The decision to leave the exhaust system untouched apart from the manifold means it never gets offensively loud so you won’t sound like a boy racer, but there’s a nice growl if you really go for it.

The extra power is most noticeable when it comes to powering out of bends – it helps keep the speed up, and turns the MX-5 into a far superior fast country-road car and loses none of the character we associate with the MX-5.

BBR predicts that the Super 200 package will be its most popular option to date, and at £2,195 on top of the purchase price of the car – any Mk3 MX-5 from 2005 to brand new – you can see why. It adds useful extra performance that puts the car up among the Z4 and SLK pigeons, which really broadens the MX-5′s appeal.

If this isn’t enough power and you want something with similar performance to a Porsche Boxster, you might want to look at BBR’s turbocharged GT270 instead. But if you take our advice and nab yourself an MX-5 this summer you have to get this upgrade too. Go on, give youself a bit of fun while the sun’s out…

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