It was at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show where Mazda introduced the original MX-5 Miata, and after three decades of droptop motoring, the Zoom-Zoom company is pondering what route its nimble roadster should take for the next generation. The fourth-generation model (ND) has been around for four years, so time has come for Mazda to start thinking about the NE model expected to arrive later in the next decade.
Speaking with Autocar magazine, the automaker’s R&D boss Ichiro Hirose said the main ingredients that make the MX-5 so fun to drive – lightness and compact size – will remain for the fifth-gen car. That being said, the two-seater roadster might still go through some significant changes as the Miata can’t be immune to the automotive trends and must adapt to survive, especially in a shrinking sports car market. More stringent emissions regulations could mean a hybrid powertrain will be at the heart of the new MX-5.
“We want to look at the best powertrain to keep the vehicle lightweight, but because of the diversifying requirements and preference, we need to explore various options. I don’t have the answer now but we need to make a vehicle that people can own without worrying that they are not being eco-friendly.”
Considering an electrified powertrain usually affects a car’s weight, the next MX-5 could be heavier than today’s model, unless Mazda’s engineers find a way to shave off some of the fat from other areas to compensate for the weight gains. As a refresher, the lightest version of the roadster sold in the U.S. tips the scales at just 2,332 pounds (1,057 kilograms).
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The latest update for the popular convertible was applied earlier this year when Mazda rolled out a 30th Anniversary Edition limited to 3,000 cars worldwide. It not only marked three decades of the Miata, but also celebrated an impressive sales figure as more than one million have been sold since 1989. Available with both soft and hard tops, the special-edition variant wears a new Racing Orange paint and rides on Rays forged aluminum wheels while packing a multitude of cosmetic and hardware tweaks.