Miata is always the answer, they say. And always means forever. Do you really think that things like changing emissions rules, a shift to electric vehicles and electrified engines and ever-stricter crash standards can take down something as eternal as the Miata?
I mean, maybe they could. Anything’s possible. But Mazda’s executives are adamant that the beloved little roadster isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This latest bit of anxiety relief comes to us from the UK’s Autocar, which spoke to Mazda’s CEO in Europe, Martijn ten Brink, at the recent Brussels Motor Show.
Here’s what he had to say about the Miata’s future, emphasis mine:
“How do you stay true to the concept of what the car stands for taking it into the next generation of technologies?” he said, when asked about plans for the next MX-5. “That’s not been decided. But I think for Mazda it would be fair to say that the MX-5 will never die.
“I think it will continue to exist forever and it will have to go with the times. That’s a super challenge, and people are passionate about this car in Mazda.
“Of course, as you can imagine, people have opinions on which direction it should go. So I’m very curious where it will end up, but it will definitely remain part of the line-up.”
It will never die! We love to hear it, folks.
Even more importantly in this interview, ten Brink said that from 2023 onward the Miata will be compliant with Europe’s latest crash regulations, which have basically doomed the Toyota GR86 and Alpine A110 over there.
Granted, the European market isn’t everything, but it’s big, and the Miata losing access to it would be bad news all around.
We’ve known for some time that Mazda is working on a next-generation version of the Miata, tentatively called the NE, but that the current ND model—launched in 2015—still has at least a few years left in it. That’s a good thing because that car is fantastic, and it tracks with history; Miata models tend to last around a decade.
The latest we’ve heard is that the next Miata could launch around 2026, and that it’s probably likely to pack electrification of some kind; most likely as a hybrid. Mazda has already ruled out the new inline-six from the CX-90 and other models. Since Mazda is promising to keep the weight down—it wouldn’t be a Miata if it got too fat—my guess would be a smaller four-cylinder engine with some kind of mild-hybrid system optimized for boosting performance and cutting emissions.
Last year, The Drive (where, in the interest of Full Disclosure, I once served as Editorial Director) dug up some Mazda patents for a hybrid system with a 3.5 kWh battery pack mounted somewhere in the transmission tunnel that powers three electric motors—two of which were in the front wheels. Patents are just patents and shouldn’t be taken as gospel, but the level of detail on this one may give some hints as to where the Miata’s going next, or at least what Mazda is thinking about.
Mazda is a much smaller company than most of its competitors and in the race to electrify all the cars, it has to call its shots carefully. Luckily for us, the Miata still seems to be a shot worth taking. As long as Mazda can keep the weight down, and I have more faith in Mazda to pull that off than most, I’m excited to see what’s coming next.
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