UPDATE, December 20: New 2026 Mazda MX-5 rendered

Following the news earlier this month that Mazda is working on a new, electrified generation of its iconic sports car, we couldn’t resist rendering the new 2026 Mazda MX-5.

We didn’t need to speculate or look far for inspiration, either, with Mazda design boss Akira Tamatani telling Wheels Media that the recent Vision Study concept would likely inform the new MX-5’s look.

Steering close to the concept itself, we’ve rendered the new MX-5 in an RF-like hardtop design. Mazda hasn’t specifically said the RF will return for the next model, but we suspect the Vision Study is a decent clue.

Of course, our rendering is a little less exciting when compared to the show car’s low and wide proportions, but given the MX-5’s role as an affordable and lightweight sports car, we can likely expect the final look to be much tamer. So, that’s how we tasked our artist.

Conveniently, the new MX-5 will likely be known as the NE – primarily because it follows the current ND, but the E in the model designation could easily stand for ‘Electrified’. Yep, as with most cars coming in the years ahead, the new MX-5 is expected to feature a petrol-electric hybrid power system.

Below: the Vision Study concept

What do you think about electrifying the iconic MX-5? And what do you think of the new look? Tell us in the comments below!

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December 5: New MX-5 confirmed, 2026 launch likely

An all-new version of the Mazda MX-5 is tipped to arrive in 2026 with the Japanese brand confirming it’s exploring ways to electrify the iconic lightweight sports car.

The new car will be the first all-new MX-5 since 2015 and its appearance is likely to take inspiration from the striking Vision Study concept Mazda showed last week, according to the brand’s head of design, Akira Tamatani.

The confirmation that Mazda is working on a new generation MX-5 will be a relief to sports car fans. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify the expense of standalone performance cars and joint ventures that allow companies to share costs on such projects are now common.

Toyota and BMW teamed up for the Supra and Z4, for example, while Toyota and Subaru entered a joint venture for the 86 and BRZ. But Mazda has confirmed the MX-5 will remain solely in house.

“The MX-5 is an icon in the Mazda product lineup and we have a lot of promise with our current MX-5 owners spread all over the world, so we will continue our MX-5 in the future,” Mazda’s director and senior managing executive officer, Yasuhiro Aoyama, told Wheels.

Aoyama also revealed the new MX-5’s timing is likely to coincide with the introduction of Euro 7 emissions regulations, which are set to come into force from July 2025.

“It should be also heavily triggered by the implementation of the new legislation that was recently announced for stage seven in Europe,” said Aoyama. “So the contents of stage seven we are still investigating, but it will affect our MX-5 at the time.”

The stricter emissions regulations also means the new MX-5 is likely to be electrified in some way. A hybrid powertrain is the most likely solution, though Aoyama acknowledged Mazda’s challenge will be keeping weight as low as possible to ensure the new sports car continues the MX-5’s longstanding philosophy of being lightweight. The current ND MX-5 boasts a kerb weight of 1021 kilograms in manual roadster guise.

“It will, at the time, be some kind of electrification so we need to investigate the most appropriate strategy for the future MX-5 which will not betray our passionate fans’ expectations,” said Aoyama.

Mazda’s head of design also confirmed the next-gen MX-5 is likely to be electrified in some way, but exactly what form the new car’s powertrain will take is yet to be locked in.

“The next-generation MX-5 we may have to think about electrification as well there and if that’s the case the car has to be lightweight, of course, and it still has to have an MX-5-ness,” said Akira Tamatani. “So how can we satisfy both of those things we need to really run a good study on that so we don’t have a clear answer to that yet.”

One thing Tamatani ruled out was fitting the new MX-5 with Mazda’s fresh 3.3-litre straight-six which produces 209kW/450Nm in the soon-to-arrive CX-60 and features a mild-hybrid system. We jokingly suggested that engine would be a good fit, but Tamatani replied:

“If you put that kind of engine in and it won’t be an MX-5 anymore,” he laughed. “High power sports car? Haha. I wish I could make that kind of vehicle.”

Mazda Vision Study concept

As for how the new-gen MX-5 will look, Tamatani didn’t give much away, but he did hint that the sleek Vision Study concept car will provide some inspiration. Mazda showed the Vision Study as part of its mid-term management plan update last week, but it gave little away about the long-nosed hardtop coupe.

That lead to some media outlets speculating it could point to a new RX-7, while others concluded it was a design study for a new MX-5. The answer, according to Tamatani, is neither, although the new MX-5 is likely to draw inspiration from the concept car.

“Please take it as an image, just an image,” he said. “It’s a message. We have this passion to create that type of vehicle, that’s the message we want to say. But will we make production vehicles made from that? We still haven’t really decided.”

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