What is it?
Ever since its services were enlisted for a rare-groove turbo conversion 23 years ago, the firm formerly known as Brodie-Brittain Racing has been inextricably linked with the Mazda MX-5.
‘BBR GTI’ is a very different outfit now to the one that used to run Ford Sierra RS500s in the BTCC, mind you – but its link with Mazda’s evergreen two-seater survives. And it’s just spawned the company’s first turbo conversion of the MX-5 in its current form. This one, unlike the original, has nothing to do with Mazda UK. But if anything, that fact seems to have freed up BBR’s hands to turn up the volume as high as it likes on this car. Which, it turns out, is quite high.
Packaging is BBR GTI boss Neil McKay’s challenge with the MX-5. There just isn’t much space to spare under that stubby bonnet. But having already made a supercharger fit, he struck upon the idea of a bent manifold, and consequently produced prototype number one for the new BBR MX-5 Turbo: a car with a Garrett turbo running just under 9.0psi of boost, and producing a decidedly cheeky 285bhp.
That’s from an engine built entirely within the standard confines of the engine bay as well, so no nasty, irreversible structural alterations required, and no changes to the driveline save a reinforced clutch.
As soon as he’d reflashed the ECU, McKay gave the car to us for an early taster. We can therefore confirm how thoroughly indecent that much power feels in this diminutive Mazda. We didn’t have chance to strap on the timing gear, but it feels like it’d crack 60mph in about 5.0sec and 100mph in about the 12.0sec mark. Quick enough to embarrass a Nissan 370Z and most first-order hot hatches, then. Ever wondered what a seriously fast MX-5 would feel like? Wonder no longer.