Mazda executives says they are “exploring” various powertrain options for the next-generation MX-5.

Speaking to Autocar, research and development chief Ichiro Hirose said the little sportscar had to remain light, regardless of what sort of powertrain it employed.

“The lightweighting and compact size are essential elements of MX-5, so even if we apply electrification, we have to make sure it really helps to achieve the lightweighting of the vehicle,” Hirose-san said.

Ikuo Maeda, Mazda’s head of global design, added the fifth generation of the MX-5 needed to fit buyers’ preferences, even if they were changing.

“The preference of people who enjoy driving sportscars might be changing, so we need to think about what direction society is going,” Maeda-san said.

“We want to look at the best powertrain to keep the vehicle lightweight, but because of the diversifying requirements and preference, we need to explore various options.

“I don’t have the answer now but we need to make a vehicle that people can own without worrying that they are not being eco-friendly,” he explained.

Towards the end of 2017, Mazda quietly discontinued the MX-5 roadster in South Africa, but interestingly chose to retain the RF variant – available exclusively with a six-speed automatic gearbox – of the rear-wheel-drive sportscar. But in July 2019, Mazda Southern Africa’s managing director told us the local arm of the Japanese firm would “probably” offer the next-generation MX-5 with a manual as well as an automatic transmission.

As a reminder, the MX-5 RF (which stands for “Retractable Fastback”) sold locally is powered by a 118 kW/200 N.m naturally aspirated 2,0-litre petrol engine, sending drive to the rear axle via the aforementioned six-speed auto. It is currently priced at R538 200.