Is this the next-generation Mazda MX-5?
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Is this the next-generation Mazda MX-5?

By GoAuto - 06 December 2022


MAZDA has been accused of being tardy in its adoption of electric vehicle powertrains, but the Japanese manufacturer is notoriously cautious in its approach to car-making, even though looking at their corporate styling you wouldn’t think so.

Though not what you’d call an ICE stalwart, Mazda is covering all options developing a range of new powertrains combining ICE and EV technology along with stand-alone EVs.

Their philosophy flipped this year in the face of exponential sales growth of EVs in various markets around the world in particular the US, Europe and China.

The MX-5 has been around since 1989 through four generations and sold more units than any other sports car globally.
However, keeping the faith with millions of their customers would be at the forefront of Mazda thinking and planning which leads us to the iconic MX-5 sports car, a vehicle that’s been around since 1989 through four generations and that has sold more units than any other sports car globally.

In their recent Mid-Term Management Plan Update, Mazda confirmed its commitment to a raft of electrified vehicles coming through the pipeline even though they already have one in the MX-30.

Next year and beyond we will see a range of electric vehicles using PHEV, HEV and EV technology from the Hiroshima-based manufacturer.

And they all look stunning based on concept images.

In amongst the mid-term update presentation videos was one of a vehicle loosely referred to as a “Vision Study”: a coupe with sensuous lines, a long nose, low slung body, short tail and upwards hinging, almost scissor hinged doors no less.

Mazda was making it clear what the video alluded to and that is the next MX-5 because the intro’ started with a current ND-series MX-5, cut to the Vision Study CGI and then finished with another shot of the ND series.

Guess what?

Mazda was almost certainly showing its hand in the run up to the new generation sports car that is already overdue based on previous MX-5 model runs. It must be a pandemic induced delay.

The “Vision Study” is a coupe with sensuous lines, a long nose, low slung body, short tail and upwards hinging doors.

Though the hard top coupe in the CGI wasn’t real, its appearance has flashed around the world especially in MX-5/Miata circles setting enthusiasts tongues wagging.

The video showed Vision Study with a fabricated aluminium sheet chassis much like that underpinning something from Lotus and now other sports car makers.

There’s plenty of room for an e-motor or hybrid without impinging on the passenger compartment boot or componentry.

At the forefront of Mazda’s corporate mind would be the imminent arrival of MG’s Cyberster fully electric two-seater drop top sports car that’s due in 2024 at a speculated $40,000 price point that would make it a lot cheaper than the current Mazda ND-series MX-5.

Pundits suggest the Cyberster will run a single e-motor driving the rear wheels with perhaps 150kW that would enable the sensationally styled sports car to clock a 0-100km/h in around 4.0 seconds … way faster than the current MX-5.

Mazda was almost certainly showing its hand in the run up to the next-generation MX-5.

So, bank on Mazda besting MG on a number of those scores if only to save face and it’s almost a given the car will be offered with soft and hard tops as the chassis structure would support either.

Some commentators theorise Vision Study is a more evolved version of Mazda’s seductive RX-Vision concept from 2015, pointing to its hardtop body style, door apertures and the shape of its rear hatch glass as being head nods to Mazda’s last rotary-powered two-seater, the FD-series RX-7.

But others speculated that it was in fact the next-generation MX-5, linking the shape of the windscreen frame, its boat-tailed rear end, subtle boot lip spoiler and the superimposed circles of its taillight graphic to established MX-5 design cues.

An earlier rendition of what the new ‘NE’ series MX-5 might look like.

Our money is on the latter supposition because it adds up.

Speaking with media at a preview event for the Mazda CX-60 SUV in Melbourne, company director and senior managing executive officer Yasuhiro Aoyama lifted the lid on the enigmatic white coupe in the presentation’s end video.

Asked simply what he thought of the world’s reaction to the concept car, Aoyama immediately linked it to the MX-5.

“We definitely need to consider the continuation of the MX-5 even under the environmental electrification and an eventual shift to an EV sometime in the future,” said Mr Aoyama.

“And as far as the passion for sports cars, we continue to consider how we can set up the appropriate sports car models in our future line-up to reply to the expectations of our passionate fans.

“We have a lot of studies for what should be the future MX-5, and all are supported by the passion of the past, almost, 35 years.”

The message was clear – no matter what the future looks like, Mazda wants to be sure that the MX-5 will be a part of it.

“It gives us some kind of opportunity for the future, so we can view the potential development of our electric vehicles,” elaborated Mr Aoyama.

“It’s to give our stakeholders some kind of expectation for the future … it’s only an example of how we might leverage our EV dedicated platform in the future. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it represents a future product.”

Rumblings of a new supercharged power plant for Mazda’s rear-drive sports car.

The current ND-series MX-5 launched in 2015, meaning it’s coming up to eight years old… a long time for a model run but Mazda hasn’t made any MX-5 replacement announcements as yet.

Rumblings of a new supercharged power plant for Mazda’s rear-drive sports car and sightings of a chopped-up test mule suggest subtly stretched dimensions for whatever is coming next.

A new interior is also allegedly in the planning, but whether these changes would arrive as a full-model changeover or simply form part of an extensive facelift has yet to be confirmed.

Mazda may use a similar chassis repurposing strategy with new gen’ MX-5 as did Nissan with its new Z-car. A hybrid powertrain from another Mazda model could also be repurposed for MX-5. It would substantially cut costs and development time.

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