Mazda has no plans to make a MX-5 coupe rival to the Toyota 86, because an MX-5 “always has to have an open roof” if it is to live up to the badge.
These are the words of longtime Mazda MX-5 project leader Nobuhiro Yamamoto, speaking with us in New York this week at the world reveal of the MX-5 RF retractable fastback hardtop.
As you can read in more detail here, the Mazda MX-5 RF is a bold new take on how to make a MX-5 hardtop. Its lifting but not folding C-pillar gives it the appearance of a targa vehicle with the roof down, and unique coupe-like proportions with the roof up.
But it’s still not a coupe, even though it looks like one. And that factor stops Mazda from having a bonafide rival to the Toyota 86 or Subaru BRZ, among others.
“I think MX-5 is [always] going to be open roof, always has to have an open roof, of course we can think of many different things. But our thinking, MX-5 has to be an open car,” Yamamoto said.
While Mazda has not detailed technical specifics, it’s obvious the motor-driven roof with four main sections will add weight to the MX-5, albeit likely fewer than 50kg thanks to the use of aluminium and plastics.
There will also be no engine tweaks to the MX-5, with the naturally aspirated 118kW/200Nm 2.0-litre SkyActiv engine to lead the way.
Yamamoto again ruled out adding a turbo or a larger engine down the track saying “we are not in pursuit of absolute power” and adding that “there is no turbo without lag”.
We asked if Mazda might consider spinning a coupe version off the MX-5 architecture but rebadge it, to solve the branding issue. A new MX-6, perhaps?
“It is interesting. But I don’t think so. We have no intention of making spinoffs,” Yamamoto told us.