The managing director of Mazda Southern Africa says the local arm of the Japanese firm will “probably” offer the next-generation MX-5 with a manual as well as an automatic transmission.

Towards the end of 2017, Mazda SA quietly discontinued the MX-5 roadster, but interestingly chose to retain the RF variant – available exclusively with a six-speed automatic gearbox – of the little rear-wheel-drive sportscar.

Speaking to CARmag.co.za at the local launch of the new Mazda3, Craig Roberts said the decision to drop the soft-top version of the MX-5 was a tough one.

“It was just a complexity issue for us. We looked at it and it was a hard decision for us to take, because the MX-5 is legendary amongst roadster purchasers,” he told us.

“But we looked at the market and did focus groups and studies, and we [found we] couldn’t bring in too many variants because of the volumes, because of the size of the segment. Whether we got it right … who knows?”

Roberts went on to suggest the firm would likely offer the next (fifth-generation) version of the MX-5 with a choice of cog-swappers.

“From the perspective of a next-generation model, we would probably bring in a manual as well as an auto transmission.

“I’m not sure whether we would actually bring in the soft top … and it remains to be seen whether there will actually be a soft top that comes with the next-generation MX-5,” he added.

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