BMW, Honda, and Mazda have the auto industry rumour mill running in overdrive at the moment, with talk of topless i8s, a reborn S2000 to take on the MX-5 and Fiat 124, and a new Mazda crossover insiders are likening to that brand’s answer to the Subaru Outback.
BMW first showed its i8 Spyder concept at the Beijing auto show in 2012, but despite looking like it could have gone into production the next day, with its removable roof panels. Three years later, though, and it seemed like all bets were off. But wait! BMW boss Harald Krueger said in an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt that he’s ready to roll the dice on a droptop version of the company’s hybrid sports car. He didn’t give a timeline, though, saying simply the i8 Spyder would make its debut in the “near future.”
On a less-exotic note, Honda is said to be thinking about bringing back an S2000-type roadster to go head-to-head with Mazda’s excellent new MX-5, and the Fiat 124 Spider that shares those Mazda underpinnings. UK’s Autocar says if Honda goes that route, the 1.5L turbo four-cylinder that just debuted in the Civic would be a good powertrain candidate, but the magazine doesn’t rule out a wilder car, powered by the 306-hp, 2.0L turbo motor Honda uses in its Civic Type R. So equipped, the car would be better placed to compete with upscale cars like Audi’s TT and the BMW Z4. We’re envisioning a future with a Honda-badged version using the 1.5L, and an Acura model based on the same platform using the 2.0L.
Finally, Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai told Automotive News his company is giving serious thought to a new crossover model based on the Koeru concept shown at Frankfurt that would take on the popular Subaru Outback. We’re a little confused by this one, though, because he says the new car would be a “lower, sporty SUV, close to a wagon. The CX-9 rides higher, so do the CX-3 and CX-5. The Koeru aims to generate more driving pleasure.”
We don’t dispute the Outback’s wagon roots, but it’s neither low nor sporty, and pleasant as it is to drive, it’s not our idea of a pleasure maker (unless you’re talking about what you can get up to in the back.) Kogai goes on to say the future Koeru-spawn would “be about the size of a CX-5, but would slot beside it as a sport alternative.” What we’re hearing sounds more like Mazda wants to do something like a BMW X4, an idea that makes us a bit nervous given the mixed results that have come from such attempts at slant-backed crossovers, but we’ll reserve judgement until we see how close Mazda sticks to the Koeru’s sharp looks. We were, however, right that the Koeru did not preview the new CX-9.