Report: Mazda MX-5 ‘Miata’ Running With Special Editions Before EV Replacement
Despite being the kind of brand that always tries to do things a little differently, Mazda is supposed to follow nearly every other manufacturer down the rabbit hole of fleetwide electrification by 2030. While this is supposed to include the MX-5 roadster, the company doesn’t even like to see the model utilize forced induction on the grounds that it would tamper with what management would argue is the perfect recipe for its lightweight and naturally aspirated sports car.
There are a lot of questions about the Mitata’s long-term future as it pertains to electrification. However, Mazda does seem interested in leveraging the possibility of the current ND model being the last of its kind into additional sales.
Based on an interview between Australia’s CarsGuide and Mazda MX-5 Program Manager Shigeki Saito, the Miata is poised to see a series of special editions. While the model has been given limited edition variants in the past and even a 2005 MazdaSpeed version (below) that stands as the only MX-5 ever to receive a factory turbo, the current generation hasn’t seen that many wild variants and is about to have its 10th birthday.
It sounds like Mazda is about to copy Dodge’s playbook with the Challenger and Charger — which frankly isn’t a terrible idea when you’re hoping to maximize the value of an older model with a devoted fanbase. By convincing everyone that the MX-5 is about to be permanently discontinued or fundamentally changed forever, Mazda can release a slew of custom models fetching prices that can only be rationalized by shoppers convinced this is their last chance to own one. Collectability will also come into play, as collectors attempt to determine which limited edition vehicles will yield the highest return on investment decades down the line.
“We like to do whatever we can, utilizing the ND, because we think that the ND has a very high potential, therefore we’d like to do everything – whatever we can do,” Saito told the outlet during the 2023 Japan Mobility Show.
“And then I think as time comes, probably the shift to EVs is even more accelerated, after that we think we can [deliver an electric MX-5],” he continued. “We are already planning [special editions] to make something very cool — we are already thinking about cool special editions.”
Previous-generation MX-5s were also given fan-favourite special editions too, with the NA scoring Special Edition finished in British Racing Green, the NB receiving a factory turbocharged Mazdaspeed (known in Australia as the SP) and the NC getting a 25th Anniversary Edition in Mazda’s signature Soul Red Metallic colourway.
The ND has already received a number of special-edition and market-specific variants, including the 30th Anniversary Edition in 2019 with an exclusive Racing Orange colour, as well as a 100th Anniversary in 2020 variant to celebrate Mazda’s centenary.
The ND is now expected to be the longest-running generation of MX-5, having been introduced in 2015, compared to the NA that lasted eight years (1989-1997), the NB that last seven years (1998-2005) and the NC that went on for 10 years (2005-2015).
Mazda frequently talks about how it’s hesitant to tweak the ND because it might upset the balance of the car. It’s a valid concern for a vehicle that prioritizes driving engagement and fun at all speeds.
A subset of customers will always complain that they want more power. But Mazda has to decide how the rest of the vehicle will need to change to accommodate that without upsetting the vehicle’s preexisting characteristics. Upgrading the vehicle’s powertrain may very well require the brakes and tires to be upgraded. Before long, you’re making other changes to make the whole system work better — impacting the vehicle’s MSRP.
Mazda also wants to keep the MX-5 light and has said it’s not interested in electrifying the roadster if it cannot keep the weight under the 2,400 pounds of the current ND. Considering just how insanely heavy modern EVs tend to be vs their combustion-engine counterparts, that seems like an impossible requirement at this juncture.
Saito said that the next Miata was targeting a curb weight of just 1000 kg (2,204 pounds) and noted that the company may have to wait half a decade for advancements in battery technology to make that possible. This would either leave the MX-5 coming out with an interim model that’s still heavily reliant on combustion engines, perhaps as a hybrid, or keeping the ND around until its electrified successor can hit the desired benchmarks.
“We’re not really sure, but if we look at the trend of battery size and weight, maybe in like less than five years, it’s going to be a very small and very light battery [that] would be available to use,” Saito said.
Electrification hasn’t played out anything like the industry promised, so it’s hard to buy into any manufacturer's claims that they’ll be running exclusively with EVs at any point. But it does seem like Mazda isn’t in a rush to get rid of the current Miata and has a few tricks up its sleeve to keep it competitive until it’s ruined by regulatory pressures.
“For as long as possible we’d like to keep ND, and then of course we’d like to satisfy compliance with so many regulations,” stated Saito.
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