Does this mysterious new concept car signpost the Mazda MX-5’s future?

A mysterious new concept car will be revealed at the 2023 Tokyo Motor Show

The Mazda MX-5 has stuck with the same rear-drive, soft-top formula since it was introduced in 1989, and the current fourth-generation model has just been updated, but a new concept car set to be revealed at the forthcoming Tokyo Motor Show could provide us with our first glimpse at the iconic roadster’s future. 

The theme of Mazda’s stand at the show will be ‘the future created by the 'love of cars', which the as-yet-unnamed concept will apparently symbolise. Mazda’s display will also focus on the MX-5, and the brand’s ‘continued commitment to the creation of products that satisfy customers' love of driving and cars’, so the concept will have at least some connection to the beloved two-seat sports car.

Admittedly that’s not a lot to go on, and neither is the single teaser image Mazda has shared which shows little more than a set of circular tail-lights, an illuminated rear running light and Mazda lettering. However, that's enough for us to suspect that the concept being revealed at Tokyo is a complete car, and potentially an evolution, of the ‘Mazda Vision Study’ we saw in November 2022.

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The Mazda Vision Study, a sleek two-door coupe, was just a digital model at the time and shown as part of the brand’s strategy for the rest of the decade, which focused a lot on electrified vehicles – including both hybrids and EVs. Considering Mazda is developing its own scalable electric-car platform called the Skyactiv EV Scalable Architecture, and electric sports cars are already on their way from brands like MG, Porsche and Lotus, we wouldn’t be surprised if the upcoming concept was also battery-powered. 

Mazda has said it plans to launch three new electric cars by 2025, and then introduce its new EV platform, but to date it has only managed to bring the MX-30 to market, which has a modest range of just 108 miles.

The design of the Mazda Vision Study from last year was influenced in no small part by Mazda’s FD RX-7 from the early 1990s and 2000s, as both cars feature a long bonnet, a large steeply raked windscreen and rear deck, and a rounded roofline. The design also featured the same tail-light design and split running lights as Mazda’s new shadowy teaser image.

Of course it could be years before a new fifth-generation MX-5 arrives, so in the meantime Mazda has made some upgrades to the existing MX-5 Roadster and hard-top RF by way of a new 8.8-inch infotainment screen, improved throttle response for the 2.0-litre models and some subtle cosmetic tweaks.

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