Mazda MX-5 test mule spied

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Mazda has been snapped testing what could become the next-generation, NE MX-5.

Our spy photographers caught this white MX-5 roadster testing, wearing what look like wider front and rear fenders.

Wider fenders (albeit very well disguised ones at the rear) point to a wider track or more serious, wider wheels, both of which point to the fact this could be a new model.

Exactly what will power the new MX-5 isn’t clear, but Mazda has made clear the current car’s ethos will live on. That means it’s likely to be rear-wheel drive, although the current naturally-aspirated engine may be replaced by something with mild-hybrid backing.

Mazda has previously said the lifecycle for its MX-5 is longer than a normal car, which in the case of the current car means it may live for around 10 years.

Given production of the ND started in 2015, we can expect the current MX-5 to be replaced in around 2024 or 2025.

“It’s our brand icon and it is always treated very specially,” Mazda Europe’s head of product development and engineering told Autocar.

“At the moment, it looks like we will have this car forever, with this size and concept and combustion engine. Of course, some day, we will have to electrify it, but we want to keep this pure concept.

A report from Autocar last year indicated the NE MX-5 is in line to use the company’s Skyactiv-X petrol engine in the pursuit of extra efficiency, instead of using plug-in or pure-electric power.

The Skyactiv-X engine uses alternating spark-guided compression ignition, the idea being to pair a high-revving naturally aspirated petrol’s character with greater efficiency and torque – somewhat like a diesel.

It launched in 2020 here and is currently available in the Mazda 3 and CX-30. None of these are rear-wheel drive like the MX-5, of course.

In these models, the 2.0-litre petrol is called Skyactiv-X ‘M Hybrid’, referring to its belt-driven starter/generator and 24V lithium-ion battery mild-hybrid system that harvests energy under deceleration.

It produces 132kW of power and 224Nm of torque, with all of this mated to six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.

If this engine were to be used in the next-gen MX-5 it’d offer 30 per cent more torque than the 2.0-litre ‘SkyActiv-G’ engine used in all MX-5 models and could bring its 0-100km/h time under six seconds.

MORE: Everything Mazda MX-5

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