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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Calling it – an electric crossover on the MX-30 platform with some Miata-inspired styling cues, badged as the “MX-5 EV”, commercials will then tout Mazda as having “electrified the Miata”
I’d like to hear Mazda’s explanation as to why an inline-6 can’t be done while keeping the package light and tossable.
A lightweight sub-2,500 lb all-electric Miata carting around a 35 kWh pack is certainly doable without exotic materials and processes if they keep the drag down. Maybe not in convertible form, but definitely in coupe and/or targa top form. Opening the top might cut range by 1/3 if the enclosed baseline form is something with a Cd value below 0.20. The potential to get a 200+ mile range in real-world driving conditions is there with a 35 kWh battery pack when keeping load reduction front and center as a design criterion, in the context of what the car is(it is a sports car, so tire/brake performance should not be skimped on in the name of efficiency).
Forget aesthetics as an initial focus. They’ll come into their own if the form is efficient from the start. Think Alfa Romeo BAT cars, Jaguar D-Type, Porsche 356 coupe, Porsche 550, Peugeot CD Panhard 66C, ect. Those designs are considered timeless and beautiful by many, but cutting wind resistance was their initial focus, NOT styling. A more recent example might be an Opel Eco Speedster concept, also not an ugly car, but very slippery, and I think its looks still hold up well 20 years later. They need to be designed with a style that is not going to be switched up when the vibe shifts, and ned to be intended as timeless from the start. The modern fad of angular designs is just that, a fad, and should be avoided.
Doing this will kick planned obsolescence regarding the car’s overall design to the curb, and the same body style might have to stick around for decades. So be it. Any improvements the car has from there should be rooted in available technology. This way, as many parts as possible with future models and old models can be shared, keeping costs down and allowing cheaper repairs.
Forget the next quarterly report. Think 20-30 years ahead.
The longer the engine the longer the car has to be, longer car means heavier car, and with three Miata bring solidly front mid engine, can you imagine how long that hood would have to be to have an I6 mounted behind the front axle?! Small is better for the Miata, I love me a straight six, but would never want one in my Miata.
To your first point: adding that much more power to the Miata disrupts the ethos that is the fundamental basis of the Miata: lightweight, balanced, approachable limits, and relative affordability. If it doesn’t hit all 4 of those targets it doesn’t fit the target market for the product as described by Mazda. In a perfect world we’d have something akin to the RX-Vision rolled out as a MX-7 (sports coupe, 2+2, I6, RWD) that would be a 13/10th Miata and in the $45k base price range. Alas, sports coupes are relegated to halo car status and plucky little Mazda just doesn’t seem to have the bandwidth currently to have 2 of those given their market share. It’s unfortunate that Toyota went to BMW for the Supra platform as if this I6 was in further development ~6 years ago. They could’ve had a business case to stretch the Miata platform for the RX-Vision and create something that would split development costs with Toyota.
I’d personally enjoy more collaboration between Honda and Mazda for this (so we could get a new S2000 replacement) but as of now, nobody wins and that’s the disappointment we all live with.
Lightweight and balanced can be done with a heavy inline-6. I have a Triumph GT6 that did that more than half a century ago. Regarding the “approachable limits” part, is it because Mazda doesn’t trust the driver to know what they’re doing? I could see that being an issue with a more powerful version of that car, but regarding “affordability”, I don’t see an inline-6 option necessarily adding a whole lot to the cost to build the car by itself. “Approachable limits” kind of sounds like marketing speak, but maybe it’s because I’m one of those crazies that considers a TVR Cerbera as “approachable”, as long as you know how to drive it. An inline-6 as an option on a Miata would be really nice, especially if it were a tuned version of the diesel.
The RX Vision is a bigger car, which also means heavier. Keeping the car Miata-sized or smaller, I like the idea of fitting bigger engines into these smaller cars, then streamlining the crap out of them and pursuing weight reduction via deletion of extraneous luxury features all in order to keep mass down in the name of reducing operating cost, reducing purchase price, and reducing fuel consumption. 50+ mpg highway in a big-engined small car capable of 200+ mph should be doable, and if it shares the Miata’s base platform and the vast majority of its parts, cost can be kept low as well.
that and well Mazda has far less development money now that they have disconnected with Ford. so a new sheet NA straight six seems les packeagable compared to say a twin scroll 4 cylinder. That turbo four would be used across the board on FWD Crossovers if the current car trends are to be believed.
Lack of funding on Mazda’s side is a big issue that would prevent them from doing cool things. Things that other firms with lots of money could be doing but would never even consider.
If Mazda goes electric, I think it should partner with Tesla on sharing components and Mazda EVs should be optimized to use Tesla’s charging infrastructure. Mazda has excellent suspensions and platforms to use, and the fact that they can make a Miata pass today’s onerous regulations without going broke is an indication of what they could do if they actually had resources. Tesla has resources(for now), the best all-around mass-market EV drive systems available, seeks to open-source their components to any hackers that crack them, but what seems to be a vision centered around Musk’s fever dream of “mo’ money” and dystopian-chiq aesthetics becoming dominant to compliment what modern society has been turned into. Musk would be willing to do something crazy, and Mazda is the sort of operation that has the knowhow to build it, and could with access to Tesla’s parts at a massive discount.
Both of those two collaborating could do beautiful things in the EV space. We especially need, and more than have the tech to allow, an affordable, sub-$20k small/aero EV with the added gimmick of hypercar acceleration and subsequent value confirm as a result of it, in order to make a compelling proposition for creating a market that doesn’t currently exist. Sure, a few minutes runtime at full throttle would drain the hilariously small battery, but if designed right, a 25-30 kWh battery would be all that is needed for acceptable range if one’s foot is kept in check, using Tesla’s Model 3 drive system and a battery pack that weighs less than a modern Miata’s small little engine.
OK, but it’s the 21st Century now: GTI is always the answer.
If by that you mean that SUVs are king, and the GTI is an SUV by comparison, you might have a point.
If you can have only one car, GTI is the answer to question after question, for all of the reasons that everybody already knows. Miata is *an* answer to a single question.
* Have never, will never, owned an SUV.
If I can only have one car, there’s no way in hell I’d trust my mobility to something made by VW.
Mk7, 100,000 miles, the expansion tank cracked once. Made a hell of an alarm noise. That’s it, that’s the list.
Aren’t those meant to, you know, expand and NOT crack?
The entire coolant system, through to the screwed-down top of the expansion tank, is pressurized. When the system loses any pressure, and here it just vented air, there is a RACKET telling you that something’s wrong. Meanwhile no coolant was actually lost, easy fix.
‘Course, I’m fucked now.
I agree, at least for new VW.
I could see myself driving an old Air Cooled VW as my only car.
More like: Greatest Transportation Idea
As someone who owned a MK7.5 GTI for two years and dealt with a litany of problems/got bored with the driving experience in a matter of months let me be the first to say that the N products are a much better answer than the GTI is. The GTI is amazing on paper but in practice the VW reliability issues and driving experience that the ECU will never allow you to experience at more than 7.5/10 will wear on you quickly.
Don’t get me wrong…it’s a good car that has historical significance, but the groupthink/auto journalist fawning over it is disproportionate to how good it actually is. I once saw it put this way in a comment on the Orange site and I think it’s perfect: if you’re used to driving appliance cars the GTI is amazing, but if you have experience with actual sports cars you’re not going to be impressed.
I remember the reviews of the GTI vs the Focus ST and the VW was usually written up as the better daily because the ST was more fun, but difficult to live with because of the ride. I suspect they just felt they needed to give the VW a win in some form because the ST was a great daily driver. I expected it was going to be punishing from the reviews, but I came away from the test drive thinking they’re either a bunch of wusses or VW pays more in advertising to their parent company.
I also don’t get why the alleged refinement of the GTI is such a selling point. I don’t want a luxury hot hatch, I wanted it to be a rascal that’s rough around the edges. If you want refinement and luxury you can get a base A3 for the price of a moderately equipped GTI and in day to day driving you really won’t notice a speed difference.
Those journalists also said the ride of the Kona N was prohibitively bad and after I test drove mine I thought they were a bunch of babies. The hot hatch/sport compact ethos isn’t about driving around in your living room…it’s about driving an economy car that’s been factory hot rodded into something fun. Who cares if it doesn’t ride like a luxury cruiser, if that’s what you want go buy one.
The ST/RS products aren’t all that different from the N products I’m advocating for either. They’re intentionally rough around the edges. At the end of the day it makes for a more memorable driving experience. Who cares if the interior is a little blah, theres some torque steer, and the exhaust farts. That’s good! I enjoy driving my Kona N every day and still remember what a hoot the Elantra N I got the chance to beat the snot out of was. I don’t think I can tell you a single memorable thing about driving my GTI other than the fact that the low end torque is nice and the launch control is fun when it actually works…which is never because VW lol.
I’ve also driven a Golf R and I can’t tell you anything about it other than it was fine and I thought the GTI was more fun….
If I thought the GTI was an “actual sports car” I might have said that. I did not, as it’s exactly not my point.
My own “experience with actual sports cars” includes an ’81 Triumph TR8, a ’71 MkIII Midget, an ’87 911 Carerra, a ’90 944S2, and an H Production Spitfire: I’m good, thanks.
You make a compelling argument, but the Porsche Cayenne is right there, dude.
I can’t. I won’t.
I think that the next Miata will be glorious in whatever form it take. I think it would be interesting if with whatever hybrid version they release, if they’d attempt to put the rotary hybrid they’ve designed in it and have some reference to the rx line of cars.
Honestly I love the Miata but 2 seats (including the driver’s seat) is 1 too few seats.
3 seats (including the driver’s seat) is the optimal amount of seats for me, 1 passenger is a little too personal, 4+ seats is more than I’ll ever use 99% of the time.
I wonder if Mazda would ever pull a McLaren with the Mazda. and have a central driving position with 2 seats on either side behind the driver’s seat.
Eh, just plop someone on the rear deck, a.k.a. the “parade seat”.
Meant to say ‘with the Miata…’
I actually think the Miata would be an ideal BEV. Batteries are big and expensive, but I bet most Miatas are weekend toys for people with other more practical cars for longer drives (notwithstanding the inevitable guy who’s going to respond to my post saying he dailies his 400 miles at a time).
A Miata with a small battery and a 150ish mile range would be the perfect seasonal toy, charging in the garage and ready to play whenever the sun comes out.
Can I start a petition to get the rotary range extender from the MX30 in the next MX5, so we can finally have a rotary powered sports car from Mazda again?!
Woo!! The NE Miata can’t come fast enough so I can pick up that ND (2019 Club RF) I’ve been lusting after for cheaper!
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I’m looking forward to what I hope is a step-change in battery tech that will allow an EV Miata with a 400km highway range. Maybe the generation after the next one?
I don’t think it’s entirely out of the realm of possibility today. Let me explain.
The EQXX proof-of-concept vehicle made it 1200km (750mi) on public roads with a 100kWh battery weighing 495kg (1100lb). Total vehicle weight was 1755kg (3800lb). The EQXX used some cutting edge materials, but the battery itself was conventional tech (top-of-the-line and air-cooled, but not like, solid state or anything). I like using the EQXX as a point of reference because it proves so thoroughly that the biggest obstacle to EV range isn’t the battery tech or the weight, it’s the wind resistance.
Here’s why I think a Miata EV could work: a Miata is smaller than the EQXX. It’s lower and narrower, so it should be able to achieve similar drag figures even with a higher drag coefficient (it would need significant redesign, which would probably compromise looks). It doesn’t need four seats or four doors, and that means the base chassis is lighter at around 1000kg (2200lb) even without the exotic materials. And 400km is a lot less than 1200km, so the battery could be around 180kg (400lb) including wiggle room for cheaper chemistry.
Incidentally, if you were to start with something mass produced like a Model 3 and shave off pounds and drag with the smaller size, you come to very similar numbers.
All said and done, a 1200kg (2700lb) Miata EV that hits 400km (250mi) in real-world driving should be possible with our current generation of battery tech.
Now the real question is, could Mazda do it without breaking the bank with R&D costs?
Actively air cooled battery packs definitely need to be used more often.
Most BEVs have a ton of coolant in them and in extreme cold all that coolant hurts warmup times.
Then on the other end of the spectrum you got cars like the Leaf and the e-NV200 that would probably preform a ton better with a desk fan cooling the batteries FFS.
Active air cooling of battery packs along with the use of ram air and active shutters to close off the air intake in very cold weather and during “startup” would simplify things while likely greatly reducing the weight of the battery packs.
I feel like none of these companies have vision or gutso anymore.
Formula is there just follow it.
Aluminum Monocoque, non turbo 1.5 skyactive I3 (half the new I6). Mild hybrid with 45hp/60ftlb electric motor and a manual transmission.
200hp output combined, Aluminum offsetting weight of rear trunk mounted battery. It would still be far lighter than the current cars.
Wont happen but eventually once the car needs a huuuge battery pack THEN they will make cars in Aluminum but a second before.
The Mazda Vision shouldn’t be the next Miata. It should be the RX-9.
I could see a RWD all electric with the angry Dorito range extender. this way you can make do with far less battery weight for daily use and if you needed a PCH day you could probably make it to Monterrey still. Ideally there would be the ability to take the range extender out like battery and track it with even less weight for the day. the battery and electric motor would need to be in the trans tunnel and low as possible to avoid mucking with handling of course.
When’s the last time you’ve driven Highway 1 in a sports car? It’s not really all that fun, because you don’t want to be TOO aggressive given the consequences of failure. Also, even moderately speedy driving is quickly ended once you get stuck behind a 3-row driver who slams on the brakes for every curve but guns it to 90 on any passing straight and will never just pull off for 5 seconds to let you get by.
It’s only really fun late at night or super early in the morning.
No argument daytime driving on PCH is a pain, slow, and nerve wracking. In a car. A comfortable motorcycle makes the delays from tourists and delivery trucks manageable, just ease around and go. Can’t do it anymore myself, but spot on about early morning…
I definitely can see that as well and I’d argue it’s the most likely thing to happen.
That being said having an automated Dorito you can’t rev, can’t row your own gears with, etc. is pretty sad for rotary guys. You can see it, hear it, smell it, feel it, but you can’t drive it, you have no control over the throttle, you can’t run it to redline, etc.
I wouldn’t want an electric Miata with a Rotary range extender, I’d just be sad every time I got in it.
I’m 6’3″, and all I wish for in life is a Miata I can fit into. Maybe the NE will be that Miata! But I suspect it won’t.
I’m 6’1″ and I fit into an ND, so you’re probably close.
Find someone at a local SCCA event that has one and has done a seat lowering kit. Paco Motorsports and Aurora Automotive Design are two of the manufacturers of them. Lowers the seat ~1.2″, and if you want to roll your own you can get it even lower than that.
Oh nice! Thanks, I didn’t know that existed. Yeah I think just an inch or so would keep my head off the headliner, and it looks like at least the Paco one also gives you a couple more inches of legroom also. hmmm… boy these cars sure do hold their value.
If you’re really interested, you can email me and I’ll see if I can find someone in an area local to you that has one. Couple forums I’m on have people that would be more than happy to let you sit in their car, even drive it on an Auto-X day if you catch them in the right mood. Below is the addy, just line it up.
google’s email address
Thanks so much! I’m not sure my eventual plans to get one are realistic, but if it seems like things are lining up I’ll totally be in touch. I really appreciate it.
The Miata is perfect and I hope it outlives all of us
I love the Mazda Vision Concept. It is a GLORIOUS work of car.
It will never be the next Miata though. For one simple reason. The Miata has always, and will always be open topped. I forget which particular HMFIC said that of the Miata, but it is one of the rules of the car. The Vision is not designed to use the sky as its roof.
Still, great looking concept. Hope a lot of it ends up in the next Miata.
Sidenote: it tickles me that with the next generation The Answer is now going to get a question. (“ne” added to the end of a sentence in Japanese indicates a question being asked)
Even better, “-ne?” is more of a “isn’t it?” affirmation than a question.
Perhaps you could ask the Knights who say Ne?
No no no, they say “Ni”
They kind on moved on from anyway. Now they say “Ekke Ekke Ekke Ekke Ptang Zoo Boing!”
I thought that was -ka?
Its possible. I just have a tongue, I’m not a linguist