Next-gen Mazda2 could become a crossover
Mazda will stretch the lifecycle of its smallest hatch in order to assess new trends emerging in the city car class.
The Mazda2 has been one of the most popular urban runabouts since this latest generation was introduced in 2015, only relinquishing its title as the Best City Car in Drives annual Car of the Year awards last month to the brand-new Volkswagen Polo.
Speaking to Australian media at last weeks Los Angeles motor show, where Mazda revealed its 2019 Mazda3 hatch and sedan that usher in an evolution of its Kodo design language, the Japanese car makers design boss, Ikuo Maeda, admitted there is now debate about changing the direction of the next-generation city car, hinting that it could become a baby SUV to sit under the CX-3 rather than a conventional hatchback.
"At the moment I dont have the answer to what will happen with the Mazda2, but we will put some focus on the future of that size of car and what it might turn out to become," he said.
"I would suspect compact cars are very important and we won’t ever see the disappearance of this but what the exact needs for this compact segment are we don’t really know just yet. It could all shift towards towards SUV.
"All I can say is that we have just started with this new generation [of design] and we will always look for new opportunities. We will take time to see where this design takes us and we have many different options for this at the moment."
The changing tastes of first-car consumers, which are traditionally attracted to vehicles like the Mazda2, has seen sales of light cars decrease significantly over the last decade and substituted by a greater profileration of high-riding urban runabouts.
Mazdas decision to hold back on freezing the design of the next-generation 2, which is expected to be 2021 at the earliest, has arisen because the design studio and development teams are maxxed out. Following quickly after the arrival of the all-new 3 by the middle of next year will be an a new-generation CX-5, then the "tougher" BT-50 ute co-developed with Isuzu and finally the companys first electric cars, a twin-set of stand-alone crossovers - one with a fully-electric powertrain and another with a range-extender featuring a small capacity rotary engine to recharge the batteries on the run.
It isnt likely to be the only car maker that deviates from the traditional city car route, with Hyundai expected to reveal a high-riding replacement for its entry-level Accent in 2019.