Whilst virtually all automakers are downsizing on the road to embracing EVs, Mazda is doing the exact opposite. It recently announced a new rear-wheel-drive platform ushering in a pair of inline-six petrol and diesel engines. In addition, it’s among the last car manufacturers to still sell cars with naturally aspirated powertrains. Not only that, but it still sees a future for the oil-burner in some parts of the world.
In the roadster world, the MX-5 is alive and well despite constant pressures from regulators to cut fleet emissions. Autocar spoke with Mazda's head of product development and engineering in Europe, and he reassured fans the MX-5 will remain a MX-5: "It's our brand icon and it is always treated very specially. At the moment, it looks like we will have this car forever, with this size and concept and combustion engine."
2022 Mazda MX-5 and MX-5 RF
He admitted there will come a day when "we will have to electrify it, but we want to keep this pure concept." Joachim Kunz pointed out the MX-5 will not switch to an existing platform used by the other cars and SUVs since that would mean the loss of RWD. He went on to say most of the development work is done at home in Japan as the sporty roadster "is the baby of the headquarters."
While an exact date as to when the ND generation will be replaced was not provided, Kunz suggested it won't happen in the near future: "Having one generation for 10 years is not a problem for us." That's because the MX-5 has a special place in the company's lineup, separate from its mainstream vehicles. His statement indicates the NE model is highly unlikely to come out before 2024 considering the current car was launched in 2014.
When it does eventually arrive, the new MX-5 will largely retain the formula that made it the world's best-selling two-seater sports car. However, a company spokesperson told us back in June 2021 that "Mazda is seeking to electrify the MX-5 in an effort to have all models feature a form of electrification by 2030.” A plug-in hybrid seems unlikely since it will add a lot of weight and create issues with packaging, so our money is on a full hybrid setup or a more probable 48V mild-hybrid system.
Whatever the case may be, the NE-gen model might end up heavier than the current car, which weighs a remarkable 990 kilograms in the JDM-only 990S special edition.