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Mystery Mazda Vision Study is electric MX-5

You can stop speculating – that white coupe is meant to represent a Mazda MX-5 EV

29 Nov 2022

WHEN the curtain fell on Mazda’s presentation for its Mid-Term Management Plan Update, a sleek, long-nosed hardtop coupe with upwards-hinged doors broke onto the screen.


Though obviously computer-generated, its presence in Mazda’s electrification hype reel quickly got tongues wagging – was this our first glimpse at Mazda’s next performance car? Mazda’s official “Vision Study” name for the mystery model gives no clues.


Some outlets theorised that this car represented a more evolved version of Mazda’s seductive RX-Vision concept from 2015, pointing to its hardtop bodystyle, door apertures and the shape of its rear hatch glass as being callbacks to Mazda’s last rotary-powered two-seater, the FD RX-7.


Others speculated that the Vision Study is in fact the next-generation MX-5, linking the shape of the windscreen frame, its boat-tailed rear end, subtle boot lip spoiler and the superimposed circles of its tail light graphic to established MX-5 design cues.


It turns out that the latter camp is right. Kind of.


Speaking with GoAuto at a preview event for the Mazda CX-60 in Melbourne, company director and senior managing executive officer Yasuhiro Aoyama lifted the lid on the enigmatic white coupe in the presentation’s end video.


Asked simply what he thought of the world’s reaction to the concept car, Aoyama immediately linked it to the MX-5.


“We definitely need to consider the continuation of the MX-5 even under the environmental electrification and an eventual shift to an EV sometime in the future,” Mr Aoyama said.


“And as far as the passion for sportscars, we continue to consider how we can set up the appropriate sportscar models in our future line-up to reply to the expectations of our passionate fans.


“We have a lot of studies for what should be the future MX-5, and all are supported by the passion of the past, almost, 35 years,” he continued.


While fans hoping for an RX-7 redux may be disappointed, the message was clear – no matter what the future looks like, Mazda wants to be sure that the MX-5 will be a part of it.


“It gives us some kind of opportunity for the future, so we can view the potential development of our electric vehicles,” Mr Aoyama elaborated.


“It’s to give our stakeholders some kind of expectation for the future … It’s only an example of how we might leverage our EV dedicated platform in the future. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it represents a future product.”


So there we have it, straight from the horse’s mouth: The Vision Study is indeed an all-electric MX-5, but definitely not a signal of production intent; the MX-5 is not going electric, at least not for the foreseeable. 


But if that is the case, what is in the future for Mazda’s iconic roadster? The current ND generation MX-5 launched in 2015, and while seven years would make it a pensioner in the passenger car or SUV world, sportscar generations tend to stretch much longer.


No replacement for the ND MX-5 has been announced to date, however there are rumblings of a new supercharged powerplant for Mazda’s rear-drive sportscar and sightings of a chopped-up test mule that suggests subtly stretched dimensions for whatever is coming next. 


A new interior is also allegedly in the planner, but whether these changes would arrive as a full-model changeover or simply form part of an extensive facelift has yet to be confirmed. 


Nissan’s execution of its new Z sportscar has demonstrated that using old architecture (it shares significant under-the-skin similarities to the 370Z) with a new engine, interior and exterior styling can result in a car that feels almost entirely different while limiting capital investment in a niche product line, but it remains to be seen whether Mazda will deploy a similar strategy with its own two-door fun machine. 

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