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NE Mazda MX-5 Expected With Hybrid or Electric Powertrain

Try to come up with a purist sports car for the 2020 model year, that kind of automobile where nothing else except the driving experience matters. The Toyota 86 is one of them, but it’s no match for Mazda’s ever-popular Miata.
ND2 Mazda MX-5 91 photos
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The MX-5 is the world’s best-selling convertible for plenty of reasons, a title that may lead you into believing the ND is nothing more than a hairdresser’s runabout. Driving the MX-5 for five minutes will make the disbelievers eat their words; that’s how powerful of a statement the Miata makes from the driver’s seat.

The fourth generation may have been introduced in 2014, but the mid-cycle refresh has seen Mazda up the SkyActiv-G engine to 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque in the ND2 with either the soft top or retractable hardtop. Remember that the 2.0-liter engine still is naturally aspirated, and Europe is also treated to a 1.5-liter version that lowers the curb weight down to 1,061 kilograms.

Autocar.co.uk had a chat with Ichiro Hirose about the NE, and the fifth generation is likely to feature some sort of hybridization or complete electrification. “If we apply electrification, we have to make sure it really helps to achieve the lightweighting of the car,” said the research & development boss.

Design chief Ikuo Maeda mirrors his colleague’s viewpoint, adding that “the preference of people who enjoy driving sports cars might be changing.” The truth of the matter is, global sales of sports cars on the decline and electrical assistance is a must in order to comply with increasingly-stringent emissions standards.

A 24-volt mild hybrid such as the SkyActiv-X in the Mazda3 and CX-30 sounds alright if Mazda can overhaul it for sportier driving. A plug-in hybrid or an all-electric powertrain would add too much weight to the already tight packaging of the MX-5. 48 volts are another possibility in conjunction with a kinetic energy recovery system. A transmission-integrated electric motor doesn’t sound likely unless Mazda is prepared to drop the six-speed manual for a hybridized automatic.

Will the E in NE stand for electrification? Some would argue that’s nothing more than the fifth letter of the alphabet, but knowing the Japanese manufacturer’s philosophy and the current trends in the industry, both answers apply.

 
 
 
 
 

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