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What Does The 2021 Mazda Line-up Look Like So Far?

Mazda Miata Parked Side View

The Mazda brand has enjoyed resounding sales success over the last few years, with sales topping 1.6 million units worldwide. While it doesn’t have the same weight as its fellow Japanese brands like Toyota, Nissan, or Honda, Mazda has managed to steadily increase sales and gain more presence in the market, where it now sits as the 14th largest automaker in the world. That’s no mean feat considering that Mazda is a relatively small fish in a very big pond. Curiously, one of Mazda’s largest markets is the North American market.

In 2019, Mazda sold approximately 278,552 vehicles in North America, which is a disappointing decrease of 7.2% from 2018. Still, things could be worse for the manufacturer and a small sales slip of 7% can be attributed to any number of external problems, rather than faults with the brand. Interest in the brand is on the rise though, and though the sales figures didn’t meet expectations, 2020 looks to be a more prosperous year for the Japanese manufacturer in the North American market. Interestingly, the Mazda CX-5 was the most popular Mazda vehicle sold in North America in 2019.

The Chinese market saw an unexpected downturn, with sales slumping by 16 percent from 2018, with the brand falling short of Mazda’s targeted 270,000 by quite a significant margin. Still, the overall sales in China may not have been as high as the brand had hoped for, the overall volume is still impressive. The best-selling model in China was the Mazda3 Axela, which sold 98,218 units in 2019.

At home in Japan, Mazda also had a bad year in 2019, recording a 7.8% reduction in sales from 2018. In 2018, Mazda managed to sell a total of 220,743 vehicles to home-grown Japanese consumers. In 2019, the brand was only able to sell a total of 203,580 units in their domestic market.

So far, Mazda hasn’t released the European sales figures for the full 2019 year yet, but judging by the fact that Mazda sold 231,070 vehicles in Europe in 2018, and the first eleven months of 2019 saw Mazda sell 223,438 units in Europe, it’s fair to say that Mazda will easily improve their growth in Europe for 2019. Even a small sales boost will be a welcome one, especially considering the large slumps in the US and China.

While 2019’s sales weren’t as impressive as they could have been, the future looks very bright for Mazda. The brand is still one of the leading innovators of internal combustion engine technology, and their next generation Skyactiv-X engine is set to impress consumers across the globe. What’s more, Mazda has ambitious plans to give all of its vehicles a degree of electrification by 2030. For purists, Mazda has also explained that the ratio of electrification will be more like 95% hybrid to only 5% all-electric, with pure electric drive being only a small part of the brand’s future outlook.

With Mazda’s future in mind, let’s take a look at what the 2021 Mazda line-up will look like. Since 2021 is still a ways away, it’s hard to pin down concrete evidence that these models will appear at all. However, we’re basing this on confirmed statements, educated guesses, and a few wild rumors. So let’s take a look at what the 2021 Mazda range might include.

What To Expect From The 2021 Mazda Line-Up

2021 Mazda MX-30

Mazda’s first electric crossover looks to be an incredibly fun and practical vehicle. First revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show, the new Mazda has enjoyed something of a mixed reaction from critics. Generally, first impressions were favorable, but the problem with the new Mazda isn’t whether it looks good or will perform well. Instead, many early reviewers have been a bit confused by it all, wondering where it will fit in the line-up and how well it will perform against competing models.

Essentially, the 2021 Mazda MX-30 is a practical sized crossover that takes inspiration directly from the Mazda CX-30. The front end has Mazda’s classic long front hood, combined with a sloping roofline, and a sporty rear end. The total vehicle dimensions are173 inches in length, 70.6 inches in width, and 61.8 inches in height. If we had to pick a notably cool feature to mention about the external appearance, it would have to be the epic addition of the back-hinged rear doors that take inspiration directly from the RX-8. Backward opening doors are just very cool and don’t appear on production cars as often as they should.

Underneath that signature-hood, the new MX-30 sports an e-Skyactiv powertrain, which consists of a single front axle-mounted electric motor, and that is all that Mazda has revealed so far. There’s no other news at all. All we know is that it’s not going to be AWD, and it will be front-wheel drive only, with a powertrain that can produce 141 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of peak torque.  The actual e-Skyactiv powertrain will consist of that front axle motor, and electric battery pack, with an inverter and DC-DC converter.

The battery is a 35.5 kWh lithium-ion pack that’s secured in the floorboards. According to Mazda, the battery has a maximum effective range of 124 miles on a single charge. This is another cause for concern for most critics. Other vehicles in the same class offer superior electric range. The Hyundai Kona, for example, has a claimed 258 miles of range per charge. Similarly, the Chevrolet Bolt has 238 miles. It does have a better range than the Nissan Leaf, but that’s not enough to make it a real competitor in the segment. However, this figure could change between now and the final production vehicle.

On the plus side, the 2021 Mazda MX-30 has a 6.6 kWh charging system that also works with Mazda’s innovative Combined Charging System (CCS) which has a 50 kWh fast charging function that can recharge a battery up to 80 percent in 30 or 40 minutes. With the fast charging capabilities, the Mazda could be a contender.

And how much will it cost? It’s hard to say at the moment because Mazda hasn’t officially announced the available trim levels. Still, we can probably expect Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, and Signature trim levels, ranging in prices from a starting figure of $37,000 with prices likely to rise all the way up to $45,000 for the top tier models.

2021 Mazda CX-5

The best-selling Mazda in the United States will be enjoying a long-awaited redesign for 2021, as Mazda tries to claw back lost sales across the globe. Unfortunately, there’s no official announcement that there will be a new CX-5, but there are so many rumors of new Mazda powertrains flying around that a new CX-5 makes far too much sense to be nothing more than an unsubstantiated rumor. If Mazda has new and exciting powertrains to show off, then it would only make sense that their most popular vehicle in one of their largest markets would get some kind of upgrade.

The word on the street is that the CX-5 will get some kind of a new powertrain option. Currently, the CX-5 is available with a variety of powertrain options, all four-cylinder lumps, including a 190 horsepower naturally aspirated version, and a 250 horsepower turbocharged unit. In Europe, the CX-5 has another option in the form of a 2.2-liter Skyactiv turbodiesel engine that produces 150 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. A US model would have to be tuned differently for better performance and reduced emissions though. Still, it could make for an efficient engine that has a better economy than other crossovers on the market—this could make it a worthy addition to the American market.

Another option being discussed is the addition of a hybrid setup to the range. According to an article from NIKKEI, Mazda will be releasing an industry-first hybrid diesel vehicle to the market towards the end of 2020. Now, while the idea of a hybrid diesel might fly in Europe and Asia, it probably won’t work out in the US. That’s why many people are speculating that Mazda may introduce a gasoline hybrid specifically for the North American market. It could be similar to the CX-30’s mild-hybrid drivetrain, but with more displacement, such as 2.5-liter engine, to power a larger crossover like the CX-5.

But again, all of this is rumor and conjecture. We will have to wait until the end of 2020 for the 2021 Mazda CX-5 to emerge, and as for a formal release date? We still have no idea. The same goes for the price, though we can take an educated guess as to what they might be. The base cost of the CX-5 will be around $26,000 (or at least in the same ballpark, with an ascending pricing scale depending on what engine option and level of trim you choose. At the business end, a turbocharged Grand Touring Reserve model will likely start from around $35,000. That is, if any of the above happens at all.

2021 Mazda MazdaSpeed3

Arguably one of our favorite recent 2021 Mazda rumors has to be about the return of the Mazdaspeed3 hot hatch. The word on the street is that the legendary hatchback, which hasn’t been seen since 2013, will be making a return to rival the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI. If these sources are to be believed and if all goes to plan, we could be seeing a 2021 release.

What started as a rumor was given even more credence after some eagle-eyed Mazda fans snapped the above picture in Las Vegas. It shows a transporter carrying a camouflaged Mazda3 with a hatchback. What’s more, the same transporter also appeared to be carrying a sedan version of the Mazda3 too. The important thing to consider here is that they were camouflaged. Why camouflage an existing model? Maybe it’s disguising a prototype wearing existing bodywork? Either way, it doesn’t have the same spoiler as the existing model. And it’s wearing Michigan plates too, which tells us that it’s being tested on the roads as well as the track too…and in the Nevada area, that could be code for hot-weather testing.

Naturally, and with all car rumors, the chat has been all about what kind of engine could be powering this new hot hatch. The most likely configuration would be based upon the exiting turbocharged 22.5-liter inline-four units found on the likes of the CX-5 and Mazda6. These four-cylinder mills are capable of producing 250 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of peak torque. Compared with the current Mazda3’s naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engine (which produces 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque) this new and exciting hot hatch would have some serious performance.

There’s no word on how that power we delivered, though it’s expected that any possible hot hatch Mazda3 will be available with all-wheel drive. At the moment, that’s all the information that we have to go on. So, we’ve got a spy shot performance hot hatch that’s potentially already being tested, that could indicate that something is cooking…and if testing is underway now, then a 2021 delivery date isn’t out of the question. And don’t forget: there could be a sedan model offered too.

A Hybrid Mazda MX-5 Miata?

Lastly, there’s talk about the electrified Mazda MX-5 Miata. The Mazda Miata is a car that has become synonymous with small and lightweight performance, capitalizing on excellent handling and sleek agility rather than heavyweight engine power to achieve optimum performance. The addition of any kind of electrification would immediately add unwanted weight, and the idea of a hybrid Miata just doesn’t work on paper. But in reality, it might be exactly what’s required.

For 2020, Mazda has made a few interesting changes to the MX-5 Miata for the European market. The big change is the addition of Mazda’s i-ELOOP regenerative braking technology for all models. It’s not a new system, and the company has been using it in other models since 2012. It uses electric power that’s generated through braking to improve fuel economy and boost engine horsepower. It’s a cool system, but it has never been used in the MX-5 Miata before. Until now, that is.

The company’s plans to give all MX-5 models this clever regenerative braking technology is no doubt a reactionary measure to deal with Europe’s increasing pressure on automakers to produce cars with better fuel economy and lower emissions. The new i-ELOOP technology does exactly that, without having to redesign the platform from the ground up. And it would work very well…for most vehicles.

The system works by engaging the car’s alternator whilst braking, recovering, and recycling that braking energy and channeling it back into a supercapacitor pack rather than the car’s normal battery. The supercapacitor pack can make better use of the energy, storing it and using it to power other electrics on the vehicle, from the lights to the windows, without having to use the alternator in the conventional way at all. This technology is ridiculously simple and really boosts efficiency. The i-ELOOP can improve fuel economy by as much as 5%, and even more in special circumstances. This can free up the power that the alternator usually demands for improved performance instead.

But will this odd hybrid-but-not-really kind of technology make its way to US-bound MX-5 Miata models? It probably will eventually, but we’re going to say a big “no” for any 2021 models. We’re prepared to be wrong on that too, since many other publications are putting their money on “yes”. Our logic here is down to the government’s current u-turn on the Obama administration’s policy of demanding incremental fuel efficiency standards. If it’s not a legal requirement, then we can’t see a brand like Mazda making their cars more expensive and unnecessarily heavier until they absolutely have to.

That’s not saying that Mazda isn’t environmentally-minded, we just think they’ll wait until the time is right rather than being pro-active. Which is fair for a company that’s not nearly as large as its rivals.

But again, we’re probably about half of all of this. We’re knee-deep in rumors and at the moment it’s far too early to tell if any of these will develop into anything serious. Or for that matter whether they’re nothing more than flights of fancy, publicity stunts, or just plain, good old fashioned unsubstantiated rumors. As always, we will have to wait until later on in the year to know more. Sadly we’ll also have to wait until later this year to get the final release date and estimated price on the 2021 Mazda CX-5.

About Joe Appleton

Joe is a motorcycle industry veteran who has not only been paid for his words on the industry but also to throw a leg over a bike on the track. Besides riding, and occasionally crashing motorcycles, he also likes to build up older bikes in his garage in Germany. He says; "I like what I like but that certainly doesn’t make my opinion any more valid than yours…" We like Joe's educated opinion and hope you do too.