Following rumours about Mazda planning to install a hybrid powertrain in the next MX-5, a company representative confirmed in an e-mail sent in June to about plans to electrify the beloved roadster. The Zoom-Zoom automaker stopped short of detailing to which extent the NE-generation sports car would get an electric boost, but Autocar is now seemingly unlocking some of the secrets.

The fifth-gen MX-5 will allegedly switch to a SkyActiv-X engine, a four-banger unit with a small supercharger developed to push the air into the cylinder. As seen in other applications, the petrol mill benefits from spark-controlled compression ignition for better performance and fewer emissions. A 48V mild-hybrid system is on the agenda as well to cut fuel consumption furthermore and meet stricter regulations.

Gallery: Mazda MX-5 Eunos Edition

According to Mazda, the 2.0-litre SkyActiv-X delivers up to 30 percent more torque than the equivalent SkyActiv-G 2.0 unit while reducing fuel consumption by as much as 30 percent. Interestingly, the page on the Japanese automaker's website dedicated to the new engine specifies the powertrain has been conceived for "real-world efficiency, not simply to do well in a government test cycle."

The SkyActiv-X is already installed in a number of models, including the Mazda3 and CX-3, where it "pulls like a turbodiesel, but revs like a normally aspirated petrol engine." It would seem the MX-5 is next in line to get the 2.0-litre engine, while Autocar casts doubts on the future availability of the smaller 1.5-litre unit. Instead, the 2.0-litre SkyActiv-X could be the sole powertrain, but offered in several states of tune.

A manual gearbox is a given, and so are Mazda's efforts to keep the weight down to a minimum. It's for this reason the MX-5 won't be a full hybrid / plug-in hybrid, let alone an EV. Batteries would add a lot of heft and ruin the driving experience of which the MX-5 is widely believed to be the gold standard.

As far as styling is concerned, the report goes on to mention we should see a newly shaped front grille and angular LED headlights, but without making the MX-5 look too aggressive. Inside, the little sports car is said to adopt fancier materials, a digital instrument cluster, and more modern controls in the same vein as other recent products to signal Mazda's push upmarket.

The NE-generation MX-5 is expected to arrive at some point in 2024.