Well, just as sure as the sun rose today, Flyin Miata cracked the LSx swap cheat code for the new ND chassis in their typically excellent and meticulous fashion, bestowing it with a tire immolating 525 hp.
However instead of the usual excitement I get from such news, my first response to that was a resounding “meh”, followed by a “this again?”
Don’t get me wrong- the LSx engine is, in many ways, the automotive greatest thing since sliced bread. It delivers 100% on 3 A-attributes- abundance, affordability, and Amrrrrcnness. But at this point, to me, an LSx swap is kind of like loading up Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo and jumping into a tournament with Akuma. Yes, it’s fun to dominate mercilessly and take advantage of his superhuman attributes, but come on. Eventually you gotta play with some different characters.
Plus in this chassis in particular, which Mazda worked so hard to achieve a good balance and low weight in, the added 200lbs on the nose and ~350HP at the crank just seems like a real missing of the point of the car.
So I had a couple of ideas for alternative swaps I’d like to see get more popular.
Pros- abundant and affordable... probably moreso than the LSx. Definitely keeps in line with the original character of the car as well, and provides several avenues to go if you are cool with 200-300HP rather than 500+. The aftermarket for these is probably as strong, if not stronger, than that of the LSx. If you want a real junkyard build, you can probably spend about $2000 on an Accord motor and parts and come out of the other side with an 8,000 RPM 300 crank HP beast.
Cons- possible hood height clearance issues, and matching the engine to the transmission
Pros- again- abundant and affordable. FWD and RWD versions have different mounts, but I think they have the same bellhousing pattern and since you will need custom mounts that’s kind of irrelevant. Most internals and peripherals are interchangeable as well.
As for the engine itself, well, I kind of see it as the Japanese LSx. Light, somewhat compact, cheap, makes good power, pretty strong aftermarket. I am biased towards engines with cylinder counts in multiples of 3s, so in my opinion a VQ with EL/long tube headers sounds way better than any LSx.
Cons- IMO the stock VQ RWD transmission is less than great subjectively. Crazy long clutch throw, heavy and slow shift action. Would not jive with the ND’s original MO. Engine itself is still better to that end than the LSx IMO though.
Original ND Engine
Pros- People are getting close to 200whp out of these things with bolt ons and a tune. In a 2300lb car, that’s a P/W ratio in the range of something like an old Cayman S or Elise. Hardly slow. Of course, can’t beat OEM compatibility.
Cons- no internet or dyno shot props; SKYACTIV 2.0 sounds agricultural unless you are absolutely caning it.
So those are my ideas on some alternate paths for getting more power into these chassis. I think we can be a little more creative than the LSx swap, even if such swaps are done to the excellent standards set by the Flying Miata team.