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Enthusiasts love their cars. While love is a big part of the time enthusiasts spend with their cars, the goal is often to make cars go faster than the manufacturer intended. While you spend many thousands of dollars hot rodding your car, you could just spend a little more at the gas station and get a decent horsepower bump. The 2023 Mazda CX-50 makes almost 30 extra horsepower using higher octane fuel

A 2023 Mazda CX-50 driving down a gravel road.
2023 Mazda CX-50 | Mazda

Does high-octane fuel make more horsepower? 

Horsepower is dictated by several factors, most of which are fairly complicated bits of hardware specifically tuned to do a certain thing. However, you can increase your engine’s output in some softer ways. 

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 makes 227 hp from its turbocharged engine. MotorTrend wanted to play around with their year-long tester to see if they could easily alter the amount of power the crossover makes. They found that using 93 octane shot the hp from 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque to 256 hp and 320 torques. 

Did the higher octane fuel make the Mazda faster? 

MotorTrend took the car to their test track to see what was what. Often, when manufacturers list two different hp figures with different fuels, the cars will have either a turbocharger or a supercharger. These two performance devices essentially cramp more air into the engine, which, by definition, makes more power. 

MotorTrend explains that Higher-octane fuels resist “knock” better. Knock is a sign of predetination. Fighting against knock allows more boost and advance, hence more power and torque. Naturally aspirated engines can only advance the spark and maybe valve timing a bit, and this can’t alter power nearly as much.

While many carmakers promise power jumps like this in turbo or supercharged cars, MotorTrend found that Mazda’s promises were true. Running 91 octane in the 2023 Mazda CX-50 causes the car to hit 60 mph, .04 seconds faster than running 87 octane. Even more to the point, MotorTrend found that the 91-octane CX-50 2.5 Turbo made the quarter mile in 15.1 seconds at 91.3 mph. The same SUV with 87 took 15.4 seconds at 89.7 mph. The most exciting part of this data is that the majority of the power increase is said to be made in the 0-30 mph zone. This means this is power drivers will feel in day-to-day driving. 

How much more does running premium cost you per year? 

Front view of green 2023 Mazda CX-50, second-best new SUV to buy in 2023, says Car and Driver
2023 Mazda CX-50 | Mazda

MotorTrend ran the numbers on how much more premium fuel costs to run. If you drive 12,000 miles annually and spend 55% of your time in town and the rest on highways, you’ll only spend $389 more yearly on gas. Granted, if you enjoy the extra pep from the high-octane gas, you might see slightly worse gas mileage. MT is basing these numbers on the average gas prices in the U.S. at the time of writing, which is $3.44 for regular and $4.25 for premium. 

It’s pretty cool to have the option to spice up your 2023 Mazda CX-50 turbo whenever you want to, with a few more bucks in the gas tank. Undoubtedly, anyone spending more at the pump to get a few more horses will likely bury their foot a little further in the accelerator than normal. Chances are gas mileage will decrease, but sometimes you gotta live a little.