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U.S.A:2003 SEMA: MazdaSpeed Miata to arrive in spring

By MARK RECHTIN | Automotive News

LAS VEGAS -- MazdaSpeed, the factory aftermarket arm of Mazda North American Operations, will introduce a more powerful version of the Miata next spring.

The roadster will answer Miata owners' pleas for more power with an IHI turbocharger delivering up to 7.25 pounds of boost, combined with a Denso intercooler. The combination will give the 1.8-liter engine 178 hp and 166 pounds-feet of torque, vs. 142 hp and 125 pounds-feet of torque on a production Miata.

The car will have a six-speed manual transmission and a Bosch limited-slip differential.

The MazdaSpeed Miata's chassis will be dropped about a quarter of an inch with shorter, tighter springs. Bilstein dampers, larger front and rear stabilizer bars and a front strut tower brace round out the suspension changes.

Racing Hart wheels are teamed with Toyo 17-inch tires.

Prices haven't been determined, but likely will be "in the mid-20s," said Jack Stavana, Mazda director of accessory operations, at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show. The 2004 Miata starts at $22,388, including destination charge.

One difference between the MazdaSpeed Miata and the Protege that preceded it: All manufacturing and assembly will take place in Japan instead of at dealerships.

The introduction of the MazdaSpeed Miata could also put some zip in Miata sales.

The car hit its U.S. sales peak of 35,944 in 1990, its first full year of sales. Last year's total of 14,392 was the lowest ever.

(Photo)Prices for the MazdaSpeed Miata will likely be in the mid-20s.

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