As long as the car still eschews an all-electric powertrain, we can't complain too much.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a true icon, and it's hard to imagine the world without it. An important car for both enthusiasts and the brand itself, when the new version arrived in December last year with the mildest of updates, we couldn't help but wonder if the end of the road was drawing near for the agile sports car. After all, Mazda has been working towards electrification, and with the shocking weight penalty that comes with a large battery pack, we can't see an electric MX-5 staying true to its roots. Fortunately, Mazda says the car will live on, and it won't be as a full EV.
Australian publication Drive was present for the launch of the Mazda BT-50, which is basically Mazda's answer to the Ford Ranger pickup, and Mazda Australia's marketing boss Alastair Doak had the following to say: "[Without speaking specifically] on MX-5, I think we've reached a level of comfort that, there's work on batteries, there's work on other things. We can improve the internal combustion engine with SkyActiv-X [gasoline engine technology] and beyond, and Mazda's working to do that."
This suggests that Mazda will continue working to make the combustion engine clean enough for the future, but it needs help: "If you can combine that kind of technology and that thinking with even some relatively lightweight form of electrification, then that means that car and that kind of ethos will continue for a long time to come. There are lots of examples of hybrids that are incredibly sporty and obviously, [even] a company like Lotus who [has] that lightweight mantra [is] going down the pure EV route."
Of course, putting all your eggs in one basket is never wise, so Mazda has been considering synthetic fuels too, just like Porsche. "Mazda's part of a consortium looking into [synthetic fuels] and trying to improve that technology down the track," says Doak. "So we'll continue to do that. Formula 1 and others are talking about bringing synthetic fuel [to their sports]. So there's obviously a lot of work around the world to try and improve the technology and make it commercially viable. That's all welcome, obviously. There's lots of development happening. I think we can all be reasonably comfortable that fun sporty cars - like MX-5 and others - will have a clean future. I think it's just a case of watch this space."
Doak's words suggest that there is still a strong motivation at Mazda to keep the Miata alive without going all-electric, but we're just not meant to know exactly how the next MX-5 will be powered just yet.