BBR has been tuning cars for a long time, but itâ€™s also been tuning the Mazda MX-5 ever since the first car came out. In that time the company, based right by the Mercedes F1 HQ in Brackley, has become the go-to people for MX-5 tweakery, to the extent that they now sell about 100 turbo kits a year.
About half the kits go to America but BBR is helping the balance of payments further by exporting all over, recently to Taiwan and Bahrain. You know this is a kit with pedigree then. Although if you discounted the rather bold body graphics, there is virtually nothing to tell you this isnâ€™t a stock car.
Well, until you got going in it anyway. At that point youâ€™d become very quickly aware that the standard 129bhp from the 1.5-litre four-pot has been somewhat augmented. The Stage 1 kit on our car instantly shoves that 129bhp up to 210bhp with a thumping jump in torque too, to 197lb ft.
BBR GTi Mazda MX-5 1.5 Stage 1 Turbocharged
Price: Â£4995 (kit, fitted)
Engine: 4cyls, 1496cc, petrol, turbo
Power: 210bhp at 7000rpm
Torque: 197lb ft at 4150rpm
Gearbox: 6-spd manual
Kerb weight: 1056kg
Top speed: 145mph (est)
0-60mph: 6.0sec (est)
Fuel economy: n/aÂ CO2Â n/a
The kit adds only about 6kg so the power-to-weight ratio just went pluperfect as Murray Walker wouldnâ€™t have said. The neat thing is how civilised it all is. BBR only went the turbo route because they discovered that Mazda had done such a comprehensive job on the engine there simply wasnâ€™t a lot else to be gained without looking at the induction. Something of a compliment to Mazda there.
BBR has done such a good job that thereâ€™s a gorgeously linear power delivery which still peaks at the same 7000rpm as the standard engine. This is still an engine that rewards being revved out, something of a joy in a small, light sports car.
The rest of the package seems similarly discrete and that is largely to be welcomed. However, without the 2.0-litre versionâ€™s limited slip diff and Bilstein dampers, even the uprated BBR suspension here struggled a bit on rough, cold, wet roads, such as the UK is blessed with for many months of the year. Traction could suffer as a result, limiting the amount of play you could indulge in to a small degree.Â
Youâ€™re going to pay Â£4995 for this Stage 1 kit and it comes with a three-year warranty from BBR. While thatâ€™s good, it might not persuade some new buyers more worried about their manufacturerâ€™s warranty, but weâ€™d certainly take this package, at Â£18,795, over the more expensive Abarth 124 Spider which is also based on the MX-5. For someone with a newish version of the MX-5 itâ€™s hard to think of any other way you could so instantly improve your car so much and so professionally for under Â£5000.