Mazda bosses are deliberating on the next generation of its existing sports car, the MX-5, by considering how to improve the popular model while potentially using an electrified powertrain.

Given its relatively low volume, the MX-5 might be one of the few cars that could avoid being electrified for its fifth generation but, either way, maintaining its light weight is crucial.

R&D boss Ichiro Hirose said: “The lightweighting and compact size are essential elements of MX-5, so even if we apply electrification, we have to make sure it really helps to achieve the lightweighting of the vehicle.”

Brand and design chief Ikuo Maeda flagged changing public opinions as a consideration on which powertrain to use. “The preference of people who enjoy driving sports cars might be changing, so we need to think about what direction society is going,” he said. “We want to look at the best powertrain to keep the vehicle lightweight, but because of the diversifying requirements and preference, we need to explore various options.

“I don’t have the answer now but we need to make a vehicle that people can own without worrying that they are not being eco-friendly.”

The current MX-5 continues to enjoy healthy sales, with 4000 units sold in the UK this year. Mazda UK MD Jeremy Thomson describes the model “as an evergreen car that keeps one aspect of the brand alive”, also saying it has “an incredibly passionate following”.

He added: “It wasn’t so long ago that MX-5 was as well known as Mazda overall. We’ve tried to infuse that MX-5-ness into all our cars.”