Mazda has made it completely clear that it's never going back to the days of its "childish" Mazdaspeed performance brand. It would seem that it was Mazdaspeed's boy-racer image and not performance cars themselves that are off the table, though, as a fresh Mazda trademark application suggests zoom-zoomy Mazdas could come back with a vengeance—and a big letter R on their backs.
The greatest letter in the automotive alphabet was the subject of a recent filing by Mazda with the Japan Patent Office, which was discovered by a user of the New Nissan Z forum. Submitted in early June according to a database viewer, the trademark consists of a stylized R, one with a similar color scheme to (though different logotype from) Mazda's Spirit R, a moniker used on the final, highest-performing versions of the RX-7 and RX-8.
In its app, Mazda outlined a wide variety of potential uses, the most exciting of which is "automobiles and their parts and fittings." This may imply that future Mazdas—especially those based on its new rear-drive platform—could receive full-fledged performance derivates, or alternatively, that such could come to existing models like the Mazda3.
Before you assume this heralds the "hyper" 3 hatch rumored in 2019, though, note that Mazda outlines numerous other relevant uses in its trademark filing. Some of these leave the door open for Mazda to apply this R to car parts, such as brakes, shock absorbers, springs, and transmissions—all components that can be altered to improve a car's performance. Curiously, this list also includes electric motors, giving Mazda an option for branding official EV swap kits to keep Miatas on the road if a synthetic-fuel future never materializes.
So far, Mazda's mysterious R emblem has only been found in Japan's intellectual property database, so we have no guarantee it will be used in the United States in any capacity, be it for performance parts or entire cars. For all we know, Mazda might just be securing the rights to a badge for an upcoming MX-5 Spirit R, one which—if past Spirit Rs are anything to go by—would be a Japan-exclusive... And of course, a swan song for the purely combustion-powered roadster.
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