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Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe shaping up

Harder top: Mazda is working on a Roadster Coupe version of its new-gen MX-5 that launched in Australia last week.

Next-gen folding roof presents intriguing take on coming Mazda MX-5 hardtop

10 Aug 2015

MAZDA has confirmed that it is investigating a successor to the MX-5 Roadster Coupe, although the car may be radically different to the folding hardtop design that was successfully introduced in previous-generation guise in 2006.

Set for a 2017 launch and to sell alongside the just-released ND Roadster, the second MX-5 ‘RC’ is rumoured to be more coupe-like, with reports suggesting a sleeker profile than the three-box folding-hardtop arrangement that came before.

While Mazda ND MX-5 program manager Nobuhiro Yamamoto would not divulge timing or other RC details, he said the second body style is vital, as it will ensure ongoing interest in the front mid-engined two-seater sportscar after the initial buzz starts to wear off in a couple of years.

“It is coming as a later addition,” Mr Yamamoto told GoAuto at the launch of the latest MX-5 in Queensland last week. “The new MX-5 has a long life, so it may come later to keep the model fresh. It is being studied right now for maybe future development.

“The old Roadster Coupe has been a big success, with more than 60 per cent of sales in the end.”

Dismissing speculation about the possibility of the RC being a fixed-roof coupe or targa-top design, Mr Yamamoto reiterated remarks he made in the press earlier about the MX-5 always being a drop-top.

“The MX-5 will always be a convertible,” he said.

Weighing in on the intrigue, Mazda Australia managing director, Martin Benders also hinted strongly at the possibility of an all-new design approach to the next RC, adding that it should ensure more consistent sales for the lifecycle of this-generation MX-5.

“I am sure if they do decide another Roadster Coupe they will differentiate that as well – they won’t just replicate what they had with the NC,” he said.

“It will have something new to extend the range, so that’s basically what they’re trying to do with this vehicle – give it a more stable volume position within the Mazda range. Not so that the numbers would match a Mazda3 or 2, but something that can appeal to a broader base.”

Mazda released the first MX-5 RC in August 2006, within 12 months of releasing the fabric-roofed NC-series convertible, with the folding hardtop version eventually usurping the latter from early 2012 until the ND launched this month.

Meanwhile, a detachable hardtop may become available on the MX-5 via a third party accessories providers. Mr Yamamoto said that a number of suppliers were shown the basic design and schematics for the convertible months before its September 2014 unveiling.

“Different companies were shown MX-5 prototypes and asked to design and/or propose a detachable hardtop,” he said.

To aid its fitment, a body-coloured small plastic strip on either side of the car leading from the trailing edge of the roof mechanism to the top corner of the bootlid houses the fasteners needed to secure the plastic hardtop underneath.

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