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Fast and topless: Mazda could turbocharge the Miata after all

Putting an end to a longstanding rumor, Mazda has admitted that the all-new fourth-gen Miata could gain a more powerful turbocharged engine in the coming years.

A turbocharged model is one of the many Miata off-shoots that Mazda is currently looking at. Another option is a Mazdaspeed-badged model that would be lighter, more driver-focused, and more powerful than the stock Miata, but a coupe has been categorically ruled out for cost, practicality, and heritage-related reasons.

Whether the Mazdaspeed Miata would be naturally aspirated or turbocharged is anyone’s guess at this point. Nobuhiro Yamamoto, the Miata’s project manager, stresses that a final decision hasn’t been made yet, and he isn’t shy about admitting that he doesn’t like the idea of fitting any kind of forced induction to the Miata.

“Once you put a turbo the car gets heavier, you have to add an intercooler and the reliability of the engine [becomes a potential issue as well],” said the engineer in an interview with Australian magazine Motoring.

Related: Is Mazda secretly preparing a Mazda6-based coupe powered by a rotary engine?

Mazda has plenty of time to figure out what will and won’t fit in the Miata’s engine bay because the convertible is expected to have a ten-year life cycle. Precisely when the turbocharged Miata could land is up in the air, but executives have made it clear that it’s at least a few years away from hitting showrooms.

What’s next?

Driving aficionados looking to get behind the wheel of a small turbocharged two-seater roadster might not need to wait until Mazda makes up its mind. Fiat is putting the final touches on the Miata-based 124 Spider, and the Italian car maker has all but confirmed that it will introduce a range-topping Abarth-massaged model whose turbocharged 1.7-liter four-banger will be tuned to deliver at least 200 horsepower, 40 ponies more than the U.S.-spec Miata.