If the relatively small carmaker isn’t ready to confirm plans for a new performance range - a necessarily costly undertaking - that’s simply to be expected.
Speaking with TMR in Japan for a first drive of the new Mazda2, development boss Kengo Fukushima said simply “Yes, I am looking forward to that, I want that” when quizzed on the topic of a 2 MPS flagship.
Asked if he might pursue an after-hours ‘skunk works’ plan to develop hotter Mazda2 and Mazda3 models - similar to rotary-based projects in the 90s - Fukushima said only “oh, no… maybe”.
Likewise, Mazda’s global sales and marketing chief Yasuhiro Aoyama confirmed that new MPS models are under consideration, but the company remains undecided on a specific strategy.
Aoyama said that competitiveness for any new model must be maintained over the life of each generation, adding that while facelifts and technology updates are one approach, sports models can also work well.
Asked if the ongoing development of new performance models with other brands would influence the consideration of new MPS models, Aoyama said “we are our own brand and must go our own way”.
“We are still not sure which is the right way, the right strategy, but ‘sport’ is one way that we are considering to keep competitiveness,” he said.
As with any performance-focused hot hatch, the new 2’s chassis would need to be heavily modified for the task, and the question of a suitable powerplant is also up in the air - just as it is with the long-rumoured Mazda3 MPS.
In the case of the larger Mazda3, reports of a diesel heart have been circulating for some time.
In Japan this month, Aoyama admitted a diesel 3 MPS remains a possibility, adding that future development of the SkyActiv engine range could still leave room for a new high-performance petrol engine.
In May, a report with Japan’s Holiday Auto claimed that a 220kW turbocharged version of the 2.5 litre SkyActiv engine is planned, but Aoyama would not confirm any such project.
For Mazda fans, the take-away is simple: the MPS brand is far from dead, but a noisy campaign could be just the ticket to get new performance models over the line.
In the mean time, fans can look forward to next month’s unveiling of the all-new MX-5 roadster.
Note: above renderings produced by Theophilus Chin.
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