Mystery Mazda sports car teased – is this a new MX-5 or RX-7?

MX-5, RX-7 or a combination of both, a Mazda sports car is still very much in the plan

Mazda concept

Mazda has revealed a striking sports car render during an outlook presentation to investors, signalling its continued work behind the scenes on a small sports car that could enter production in the next few years.

The images show a compact two-door coupe, its design referencing elements from both MX and RX models. While this is unlikely to directly preview a specific future model, it does give some insight into the goings on within Mazda’s secretive design studios, and where the brand could take its future sports model. 

Technical specifics are obviously thin at this moment, but Mazda has been clear in its commitment to a sports model, suggesting that like a 911 is to Porsche, the MX-5 represents the core of Mazda’s ethos, suggesting a small rear-drive sports car will always have a place in the range. 

Mazda

What technical form a potential new MX-5 might take is much more difficult to ascertain, though, as the small petrol-powered roadster is at risk of becoming untenable in certain markets as emissions regulations get tougher and more difficult to absorb into the cost of a relatively low-cost vehicle. This could see the MX-5 adopt an electric powertrain, which of course comes with its own technical challenges.

Whatever the form a new MX-5 takes, it will have to work within Mazda’s product strategy revealed as part of the outlook presentation. It will be formed by three key model architectures, small car, large car and BEV. We have already seen the first models come from the new large car family, with Mazda bucking the market trend by releasing a new rear-drive chassis with brand new petrol and diesel engines. 

> Mazda CX-60 review

These new six-cylinder units adopt a right-sizing strategy, with relatively high capacity engines assisted by mild- and plug-in hybrid systems. One of these is a naturally-aspirated 3-litre in-line six engine, which will initially be fitted to four SUVs. 

Mazda has already undertaken the development of a sports car on this new rear-drive architecture, one that was previewed by the RX-Vision concept car in 2015 and later confirmed in a collection of patent applications submitted by Mazda. This model was likely killed off due to the pressure to launch more profitable model lines. 

The future of Mazda’s current fourth-gen MX-5 is also under scrutiny, due to its relative age in the marketplace and increasingly stringent safety regulations. It’s these new EU safety regs that kept Nissan from bringing over the new Z and forced Toyota to restrict sales of its new GR86 to three model years.

Whatever Mazda decides to pursue in regards to its new MX-5, the commitment to a small sports car can only be a good thing. 

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