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Premium push unlikely to include MX-5

SUV ONLY: Mazda’s new inline six-cylinder engines will only grace the engine bays of its SUV range.

Mazda will not follow BMW and Toyota in offering six-cylinder sportscar, or a premium MX-5


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1 Apr 2022

MAZDA Australia says that despite a push upmarket for its growing range of SUV models, a similar move is unlikely for its passenger and sports models, including the treasured MX-5 roadster.


Speaking to GoAuto at the introduction of its updated CX-5 range last month, Mazda Australia managing director Vinesh Bhindi said he was not aware of any plans in place for an ‘MX-50’ premium variant of the brand’s beloved roadster, and that the brand’s head office in Hiroshima was “very unlikely” to follow BMW and Toyota in offering a six-cylinder powered sports model.


“Right now, SUVs models are the priority. That’s where the market is, but also, it is where the technology is right for all the parts of the world in which Mazda sells cars,” said Mr Bhinidi.


“Chasing CO2 reductions and, to put it simply, meeting customer expectations – that’s where the focus is. Anything beyond that is just wishful thinking – as much as I would personally love it.


“And really, for the MX-5, I think the answer is ‘absolutely not’. (A premium variant) would fundamentally change what the car is all about.


“With the current generation MX-5 in particular, Mazda worked very hard to get back to the original concept as much as possible, and I think that even if we were to ask for a premium model, that the answer would be no, because then it just (wouldn’t be) an MX-5 anymore.”


Despite having shown its rotary-powered RX Vision concept (2015) as a potential challenger for the likes of the BMW Z4, Toyota GR Supra and its rear-wheel-drive Kabura concept (2006) as a possible rival to the Nissan 350Z – Mazda has, to date, done little to revive its broader sportscar range.


The RX-Vision prompted a lot of speculation about the future of Mazda’s rotary program, and indeed the brand’s reintroduction of a fully-fledged sportscar line-up.


At the time, it was assumed the RX-Vision would become the successor to the RX-7 and RX-8 sportscars, replete with a new-generation rotary engine. But with a mid-size rear-wheel-drive sportscar yet to come to fruition, and the brand’s clear shift of focus to SUV models, it seems fans of Mazda’s MX and RX variants will have to be content with the ND-series MX-5 already on offer.


The good news is that a fifth-generation MX-5 is reportedly in the works, with an electrified and supercharged powerplant likely to power the two-seat model.


Last year, Mazda executives told UK publication Autocar that it was readying a supercharged version of its spark-controlled compression ignition engine for the MX-5, potentially gifting the model with up to 30 per cent more torque.


The Skyactiv-X engine will provide the next-generation MX-5 with as much as 137kW (+2kW) and 240Nm (+35Nm) when compared to the existing 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G unit, potentially seeing the model’s 0-100km/h time drop to below six seconds for the first time. Thankfully, a six-speed manual transmission is tipped to remain standard.


Visually, the next-generation MX-5 is tipped to draw on the same design language featured in other contemporary Mazdas. Frontal treatments akin to the CX-30 and MX-30 could be adapted to suit the low-riding two-seat sports car; the angular headlights and upright grille are likely inclusions.


The cabin is also tipped to receive a significant refresh, adding premium tech features including a digital instrument panel, high-end switchgear and revised infotainment array, Autocar suggests.


Mazda has yet to provide any official details of its next-generation MX-5 and has given no clues as to the model’s expected launch date.


However, based on the lengthy life cycles of previous MX-5s – most of which have remained in market for the best part of a decade –the ‘NE-series’ MX-5 is most likely to go on sale in 2024.

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