Mazda is teasing car enthusiasts with a low-slung sports car design that could portend the next Miata. The Mazda Vision Study Model was buried in a mid-term plan outlining an $11 billion push toward electrification. Reading between the lines it seems almost certain that the next Miata will be a hybrid, but maybe it really will look this good.
The size of the Vision Study Model indicate that the car is Miata-sized, especially if you look at the proportion of the door and windshield relative to the car. This isn’t a larger vehicle that might house, say, an inline-six. That project was sadly canceled (or perhaps on indefinite hold) in order to build more crossovers.
The front of the Vision Study Model appears to be an evolution of the current ND Miata. It has the same pronounced fenders but a lower and more aggressive Mazda signature grille. The headlights mimic pop-ups but look to be fixed, perhaps a reference to the NA. Although, Mazda has been experimenting with fixed headlights that resemble pop-ups since the RX-Vision Concept.
From the rear, another Miata design cue can be found in the taillights. The original NA had two round elements separated by an hourglass element in the middle. The Vision Study Model merges the round elements and makes the Venn diagram intersection part of the sheetmetal.
Of course, the glaring difference between the Miata and the Vision Study Model is that the latter is not a convertible. The solid top doesn’t appear to be a retractable hardtop like the Miata RF‘s, either. However, Mazda uses the word “Vision” to name concepts that are not intended for production as is, but for inspiration to guide designers toward future vehicles.
So what is the future of the Miata? CEO Akira Marumoto said in the mid-term plan that by 2030 the company will have three battery-electric models, five plug-in hybrid models, and five hybrid models (excluding mild hybrids). It’s unlikely that the Miata will be one of the three BEVs, so a hybrid is the most probable option.
However, Mazda estimates that even by 2030, 60 to 75 percent of the market will still require traditional gasoline engines. “We are not dismissing internal combustion vehicles,” Marumoto said.
He admitted that Mazda’s previous mid-term plans, revealed in Jun 2021, underestimated EV demand. Back then Marumoto said EVs would comprise 25 percent of Mazda’s global sales by 2030; now he says that number could be as high as 40 percent, inclusive of EV-intensive markets such as China. Mazda may be playing catch-up to the EV craze, but we hope that somewhere in its plans there’s still room for that rear-wheel-drive straight-six sedan and coupe that were planned.