New Mazda MX-5 imagined

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The recent Mazda Iconic SP concept could be a preview of a new MX-5’s design. Here’s what the next version of the world’s best-selling two-seater could look like.

The current, fourth-generation ‘ND’ Mazda MX-5 – introduced in 2015, with the hard-top MX-5 RF joining the Australian line-up in 2017 – is now nine years old, and nearing the end of its life.

Previous generations of the MX-5 have been sold for between seven and 10 years – and while it has just received a mild styling and technology update, it is likely to only keep the current car fresh for a few more years.

At the 2023 Tokyo motor show the Japanese car maker unveiled the Mazda Iconic SP, a rotary-engined hybrid concept car which resembles a new RX-7 – but is more likely to preview the company’s future design language for sports cars, including its MX-5 convertible icon.

The 2023 show car is our best look yet at what’s inside the minds of designers working on the fifth-generation MX-5, which overseas reports claim could also introduce hybrid and/or electric powered versions of the legendary sports car.

These digital illustrations created by Theottle preview what a new MX-5 could look like.

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Iconic SP concept.

Mazda has said that every vehicle it sells by 2030 will have some form of electrification, and that will include the MX-5.

How it integrates heavy electric-car batteries while retaining its compact proportions, low weight and affordable asking price remains to be seen.

A Mazda patent for a hybrid system with three low-powered electric motors, all-wheel drive, an automatic transmission and compact battery was uncovered in February 2022 that could suit a small, lightweight car like the MX-5.

Producing a low-power hybrid MX-5 is not too far a stretch, given Mazda currently offers mild-hybrid versions of its CX-60 and CX-90 SUVs, which see a petrol engine teamed with a small battery and electric motor for improved fuel efficiency.

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2024 Mazda MX-5 update.

One possible option is the 2.0-litre SkyActiv-X petrol four-cylinder used until recently in the Mazda 3 and CX-30, which has mild-hybrid technology.

What is also expected to stay is rear-wheel drive. While front-wheel drive vehicles are cheaper to manufacture, Mazda has said it is committed to the ‘purity’ of the MX-5, which has traded on its rear-wheel-drive layout amid tides of front-drive competitors that have come and gone over the past 35 years.

It remains to be seen if the ‘Large’ platform used under the CX-60 through CX-90 SUVs – which is rear-wheel drive – can be made small, light and affordable enough to suit an MX-5, given these vehicles weigh close to or in excess of two tonnes, albeit with much larger bodies and engines.

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