- Out of nowhere, Mazda sprung unexpected teaser images of a coupe concept during its mid-term business announcement
- The new Vision Study could be a new Miata or a successor to the RX-7, but whichever model it turns out to be, it looks stunning!
- Whatever it turns out to be, it will house an electrified powertrain
Mazda snuck a teaser in under the radar. And it’s gorgeous. But is it the next-gen Miata or a long-awaited successor to the rotary RX-7? The timing of this totally unexpected reveal comes as Mazda is finalizing a design for its 5th-generation Miata, but it could also be an updated version of a rotary RX concept. And that is the biggest tease of all—the fact that we don’t know what it is.
So what actually happened here? In the middle of its mid-term business update yesterday outlining its future strategy for the remaining decade and its plans for electrification, the Hiroshima-based carmaker nonchalantly revealed the so-called ‘Mazda Vision Study.’
It was showcased as the stand-out model of Mazda’s 2030 plans, but as is so often the case with design studies, no information was forthcoming, nor was there any evidence of a physical model.
As we’ve mentioned before, if you’re going to create hype around a next-generation model using teaser images, then the car your teasing has to be worthy of the noise. This teaser is definitely worthy. The fact that the Mazda Vision Study Model was buried in a mid-term plan announcement outlining an $11 billion push toward electrification only serves to add more intrigue.
As soon as these two teaser images were shown, the world’s media instantly started speculating on what they were looking at. Could it be the next-generation Miata or a 21st Century rotary-powered successor to the RX-7, and RX-8? Maybe an RX-9. Whatever it turns out to be, we hope they don’t tone down the styling because it looks awesome.
We’ve seen eye-catching sports car concepts from Mazda over the past few years, the most prominent being the stunning RX-Vision which won The Most Beautiful Concept Car of the Year award at the 31st Festival Automobile International in Paris in 2016. That coupe hinted at a potential revival of the ‘RX’ lineage that was discontinued in 2012 with the demise of the 4-door RX-8. Like previous RX models, the RX-Vision uses Wankel rotary power, with a 2.6-liter engine which is basically a doubled-up version of the old 1.3-liter rotary engine that powered the outgoing RX-7 and RX-8. If the truth is known, the rotary engine will never again be used by itself to power a car as it suffered from poor fuel consumption and excessive oil usage, not to mention sluggish mid-range torque. From now on, it must be mated to some form of electrification. But the ‘on again, off again’ saga as to potential production of a rotary car has gone silent since the industry’s rapid shift towards electrification.
Mazda believes that 40% of its sales globally will be fully electric vehicles by 2030. In the lead-up to 2030, Mazda’s “multi-solution” approach includes new internal combustion models, exploring carbon-neutral fuels and new hybrid technology before it dives into electric cars. It also wants to keep its signature sports cars alive.
Strategically, the Vision Study is not painted in Mazda’s well-known Soul Red color but a neutral white, hinting at a future coupe. The proportions of the Vision Study suggest that it is Miata-sized, especially if you look at the proportion of the door and windshield relative to the front end of the car. If it was a Miata, it would have to have a convertible version (unlike the hardtop you see here) while its electrified powertrain—could be hybrid or plug-in hybrid—would have to sit in the engine bay lower than anything we’ve ever seen, given how low slung that hood looks. We don’t think Mazda will switch to a fully electric powertrain, or at least not with this generation.
But then again, the Vision Study does have similar sculptured, whooshing, sloping curves seen on the RX-Vision concept. The front of the coupe appears to be an evolution of the current 4th-generation ND Miata with the same pronounced fenders but boasting a lower and more aggressive Mazda signature grille. The headlights are reminiscent of the pop-up look that are actually fixed, a style that Mazda has been experimenting with and resemble pop-up-like looking lights seen on the RX-Vision Concept.
As far as a possible powertrain for what could be called the RX-9, that low-slung hood suggests might house a compact rotary engine and be mated to an electric motor and capacitors driving the front wheels. If it did employ a rotary, then that engine would almost certainly be used only as a generator to charge the batteries for the electric motor.
Hats off to Mazda for revealing this sexy-looking coupe at a time when it’s just launched a large 6-cylinder SUV and is trying to focus on accelerating its electrification program. This totally unexpected design study coupe that was sprung on an unsuspecting media, creates all sorts of rumors and suppositions. Is it the next Miata or a successor to the RX-7? To be completely honest, at this early stage in the life of the Vision Study Model, we really have no idea what it is just yet. It could be either one of the two. Whatever it is, they can spring more images on us anytime. The hype is definitely there.