Mazda's war cry: Bring on a rival to the MX-5!
Jeremy Thomson, Mazda UK MD, wasn't joking when he told us the best years for the firm's sports car were when it did battle in the magazine road tests and showrooms with the British alternative.
We asked him if the delay in getting a new MX-5 into showrooms worried him, as it could see other manufacturers fill the lightweight sports car void while the Japanese marque readied a new model. Several manufacturers are said to be plotting a coup in the sector – not least Kia with its GT4 Stinger, showcased at the Detroit and Geneva motor shows.
But Thomson isn't concerned. "It doesn't worry me in the slightest and I'll embrace the opportunity to have competitors in that segment again," he said.
"Since the MGF disappeared, Mazda has been on its own and if I look back at those days it was actually the combination of us and MG that created the critical mass that gave roadsters a presence on British roads that has never been the same again.
"With competition you double the amount of media spend, double the awareness and double the amount of cars on the roads and they have a certain resonance then.
"So my message to those planning a competitor model is simple: Bring it on!"
There is no official word yet on Mazda's replacement for the MX-5, but Thomson confirmed plans are well advanced.
"The official Mazda line is that there is space in the new portfolio for MX-5," he said. "We recognise from a purist's point of view that it has to remain lightweight and affordable. That's what customers want to see and the designers realise that."
Thomson pointed to the current range of Mazdas, which has seen the manufacturer reduce weight and focus on making their engines more efficient and powerful at the same time, as a positive thing for the next MX-5.
"There's no better way to showcase what we're trying to do with combustion engines and light weight than with the MX-5," he said. All we hope is that they hurry up and get the new one out there... we're not so worried about another MGF.