Things are hotting up at Mazda with the announcement of a new sporting sub-brand. The name Mazda Spirit Racing is set to feature on higher performance editions of the MX-5 and Mazda3 if two concept cars get the go-ahead for production.
The Japanese firm showed Mazda Spirit Racing versions of the Miata and Mazda3 at the Tokyo Auto Salon, where new president Masahiro Moro pronounced his intent to bring back the glory days. “For the first time in 25 years since MazdaSpeed we have established a factory motorsports division – Mazda Spirit Racing,” he explained.
Mazda has been competing in Japan’s Super Taikyu series since 2021 and is expanding its race program for 2024. Through a partnership with Gran Turismo it will give e-sports players the opportunity to race for real and will also enter carbon-neutral race cars in the form of a bio-diesel powered Mazda3 and an e-fuel Miata.
Those cars are the inspiration for the two concepts which Mazda says it is evaluating for production, to bring the Mazda Spirit Brand to the road as well as the track. The Roadster (MX-5) Spirit Racing RS Concept features a modified two-litre motor and uprated suspension, while the Mazda Spirit Racing Mazda3 show car boasts cool carbon accessories including a new front spoiler and rear wing. The car’s final specification is still under discussion but design boss Ikuo ‘Speedy’ Maeda said it will provide a “sense of motorsports connected to the No 55 car competing in Super Taikyu.”
In addition to special edition vehicles Mazda Spirit Racing will launch a range of merchandise, including watches, aimed at Mazda motorsports enthusiasts.
Why the sudden change of heart for Mazda, which has been pushing its SUVs ahead of all else? It can’t be any coincidence that new boss Moro-san is both an experienced engineer and marketeer who presided over Mazda’s racing program in the USA, while design guru Maeda is a handy club-level racer. With these two in charge the future of faster Mazdas is looking promising.