By on April 13, 2011

Hey you, you’re an “auto enthusiast,” right? You care about the “driving experience, yes”? Good, name a top-20 global automaker that sells one brand of cars globally, marketed specifically to enthusiasts.

Take your time answering, but there’s only one… and it has something very serious to say to you.

The Bailout Experience created a real shift in the auto industry’s communications with the public, especially among those automakers who were asking the public to keep them afloat. Existential angst brought a wave of sincerity, most notably from the most vulnerable bailout baby, Chrysler. The initial waves of insistent artlessness crashed against the rocks of American cynicism, the public having been well fed on aw-shucks, Americana-themed car ads for decades. Strangely, Chrysler and Ram brand advertising has continued to place a heavy emphasis on loyalty and sincerity (most notably with “Imported From Detroit“), while Dodge ads have gone the exact opposite direction: towards slick insincerity.

In this new Mazda ad, the Zoom-Zoom brand’s sincerity signals what their sales numbers already tell us: they could be doing better. Unlike Chrysler, however, they’re not asking for a lender of last resort: they want enthusiasts to put their money where their mouth is. Mazda is a small company (slightly larger than Chrysler and Mitsubishi in global volume, as of 2009), and perhaps more importantly, it’s a one-brand outfit. At least in the US market, Mazda has staked its fate on the idea that “the drive matters,” a position widely espoused on the internet and elsewhere.

So ask not whom Mazda howls for, sweet internet enthusiasts, for it howls for you. If the joy of driving (to borrow a phrase) matters to you, why don’t you own a Mazda? Does the performance level not live up to the brand’s pro-enthusiast sincerity? Does sufficient performance come with too many compromises (say, I don’t know, styling)? Did other considerations take priority over pure driving pleasure? Apparently there are plenty of reasons not to buy a Mazda, so let’s hear ‘em.

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181 Comments on “Mazda’s Enthusiast Howl...”


  • avatar
    Jimal

    I like Mazda. They know who they are and they don’t pretend to be anything else. They are also heavily invested in motorsports in the U.S., which I like.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I am continually attracted to Mazda.  Miata, Mazda6, and RX-8 in that order.  But I still have to ask this question: “Have any of you driven a Mazda6 and a Fusion Sport?  If so, was there a noticeable difference in the way they each drove?”

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      I don’t know about this pair, but years ago I drove a Ford Probe GT tubo and a Mazda MX-6 GT turbo.  The springs on the Ford version were much harder.  Seems like the target demographic for the Mazda version were European car buyers.  The Ford version was aimed at flyover state knuckleheads.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I don’t know about this pair, but years ago I drove a Ford Probe GT tubo and a Mazda MX-6 GT turbo.  The springs on the Ford version were much harder.  Seems like the target demographic for the Mazda version were European car buyers.  The Ford version was aimed at flyover state knuckleheads.

        Since you said turbo, you are talking first gen PGT.  Can’t speak for that generation, but my short list many years ago was a second gen PGT/MX6 vs Integra.  The Probe was definitely more stiffly sprung than the Mazda, but it also handled much more crisply.  And I made my choice accordingly.  And I’m no “flyover state knucklehead”…the PGT was much more of an enthusiast ride and the auto press of the time agreed and showered the Probe with numerous awards.  However, the last two years of production saw a softening of the suspension, thus making the 93-95 more desirable.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        “flyover state knuckleheads”

        Next time the world is difficult, remember this attitude.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      The 6 is more attractive and built in Flat Rock alongside the Mustang.  The Fusion is made in Mexico and has a hideous grille.  Nevermind handling semantics…I’d much rather have the Mazda for those reasons.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      I’ve driven the previous generation 6 on several occasions and the current Fusion Sport once. Unfortunately the time between the two was too much for me to draw any conclusions.

    • 0 avatar
      stharward

      “Have any of you driven a Mazda6 and a Fusion Sport?  If so, was there a noticeable difference in the way they each drove?”

      I drove the 2010 V6 models back to back in the same day about a year and a half ago.  The Mazda6 had noticeably more low-end torque, the steering was a touch heavier, and the suspension was stiffer.  It was also a little less prone to understeer, though I think that difference was primarily due to different tires: Mazda on Michelin and Ford on Goodyear.

      I bought the Mazda6.

    • 0 avatar
      squatch21

      I currently own a 2009 Fustion Sport 5-spd, and until someone pulled out in front of me my wife had a 2009 Mazda6 base 6-spd.  The the 2.5L in the Mazda is more powerful than the 2.3L in the Fusion.  Though not a fair comparison, the Sport suspension (and may the 18 inch vs 16 inch wheels) made the Fusion a much better handler than the 6 — I think it needed a larger sway bar in the rear.  It would feel less planted in sweeping turns.  The 6′s shifter is much better than the Fusion’s, though the Fusion has a much more progressive clutch with better feedback.  Brakes are even.  Inside, the 6′s interior blows the Fusion’s away, except for the seats.  I think the best option would be an uplevel manual tranny 6 over a Fusion, but there is a big difference in price.  Iv’e also driven a 2011 Fusion rental.  Very close to the 6, but I hate all the buttons on the IP — the dials in the older Fusion and the 6 work better and are more elegant.

      Plus, you gotta love a car that I walked away from after a 50 mph head on collision with not even a scratch.  All damage was contained forward of the A pillar — all the doors worked, no sheet metal buckling.  Stupid girl talking on her phone…

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    Nothing against Mazda, it’s just that Nissan does “fun-to-drive Japanese” better.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Nissan?  Seriously?  Besides the 350Z, whats fun there?

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Ummmm….

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        haha, good one @psar!

        Although at that price nothing from Mazda even remotely competes with the GTR, so it doesnt exactly count.  Its not like someone said “well I was gonna buy an RX8 but I just liked that darn GTR so much better.”

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I’d say all the computerization take most of the fun OUT of the GT-R. Insanely fast, yes, but I am not sure how ‘fun’ that is. A Miata is fun.

      • 0 avatar
        SimonAlberta

        I confess to not having driven any current or even very recent Nissans but, historically I have often been impressed by them. A Sentra SE-R and the original Maxima were a blast compared to their comparable Big3/Toyota/Honda rivals.
         
        Have they slipped back in recent times?

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        I think the sporty Prince legacy that brought us GT-Rs, SE-Rs, and 4DSCs was one of the casualties of Nissan’s brush with death and rescue by Renault a decade ago.

      • 0 avatar
        mikeolan

        The 370z
        The GT-R
        The Altima
        The Maxima
        The Juke
        The Rogue (over the Tribute)
        The Murano (over the CX7)
        —-

        The G37
        The M

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Their all-CVT car lineup begs to differ.

      • 0 avatar
        mikeolan

        Nissan’s CVT’s > Mazda’s Autos

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        The CVT is by far the worst part of my Altima.  When it comes to efficiency and mileage it is great.  From an enthusiast point of view, lame.  At least a manual is available…and would be the choice if not for commuting duty…

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I’ll disagree with this.  Nissan’s CVTs really are very good.  The Maxima and Altima I’ve driven do quite well, and the smooth, uninterrupted shove and instant shift response are greatly appreciated.  

        I don’t think I realized how irritating the constant shifting of a conventional automatic, and especially some of the busier, six-gear units, is until I spent a week in a Maxima.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @Krhodes — I totally agree, I dont envision the GTR as “fun” in the traditional sense.

      @Simon — Yes, they have gone way downhill since then.  The Sentra SE-R is a joke now, the 240 is gone, the Maxima is a shell of its formal self, and the Altima never was fun even as an SE-R model.  The last great Maxima was the 2003 model.  Saw one today, the SE with all blacked out trim… wow what a great car.

      @mikeolan — Aside from the 370, nothing in your list is fun.  Well, the Juke might be, I havent driven it, but since the good ones arent available with a stick, they already dropped the ball.  Cmon man, seriously?  The Rogue??  The Altima?  Fun??  Sure, I can see some guys thinking thier big heavy G37 is fun, but its no Miata.  I think you are confusing “fast” with “fun”.  Very different concepts…

      @psar — You got me with the GTR, but the CVT??  I dont care how great they function, a CVT is NOT fun.  Its the antithesis of fun.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        <<<CVT is NOT fun.  Its the antithesis of fun.>>>

        I couldn’t agree more.  The drone when your foot is in it is annoying.  It is effective and a beautiful piece of engineering but fun, no way.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        @golden2husky: what engine is inside your Altima?  I’ve found the smaller engines in the Cube and Versa (never drove the 2.5L or Hybrid Altimas) do the usual CVT thing, but the Maxima and Altima 3.5 are much different.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Three more inches of rearward seat-track travel in the 5.  That’s all I ask.
     
    (well, that and a free RX-8)

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I used to own a Mazda Protege5, and I loved that car.  I test drove the Mazda3 in 2005 and I loved it too.  I cross-shopped the Mazda3 and Mazdaspeed3 when I bought my GTI, and I loved both of them too.  But that stupid silly clown-face Joker grill was a deal breaker.

    My wife had the option of buying a Miata instead of her MR2 Spyder, but she hated it.  I preferred the Mazda, but she doesnt like that classic roadster look, prefering the mid-engined wedge look instead.  The RX8 is still a favorite of mine, but for most buyers at that price point, the performance simply is too weak.  Not many like the hunchback styling, they should have stuck with a 2-seater design.

    If I was in the market for a new SUV or sedan, Mazda would be tops on my list.  Mazda5 is cool too, but they blew the styling on it too.  So yea, I would say styling is hurting them.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    I’m still waiting for the Minagi!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      http://www.hiphopsite.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Nicki-Minaj-Backshot-842×1024.jpg Well here ya go! 

      Oh I thought you said Nicki Minaj!  My bad. 

  • avatar
    highlandmiata

    I’m on my second Miata, and I have owned a Protege5.  I bought the Pr5 new, and was glad to have warranty support when I blew the engine and transmission in separate incidences.  Perhaps I was driving it to my performance expectations… I liked it nonetheless.  Love the miata, hope to never have to part with it.  I like the mazda 3 off and on, but I am not in the market for a car for a while, other than perhaps a cherokee classic or another e30.  

    I do recommend mazdas to people who are looking at cars, and sometimes they listen.  They are often attracted to more luxury or all wheel drive…

  • avatar
    changsta

    I think that slowly the perception that Mazdas are prone to rusting, and require frequent small repairs is catching up to them. The Mazda3 used to sell very well in Canada, but I believe they’ve taken a dive recently. If you type Mazda + Rust on Google, your question will be answered for anyone that lives anywhere that it snows. I currently drive a 2006 Mazda5 GT, but will be dumping it soon. My friend has already dumped his 2005 Mazda3 GT, and I persuaded two friends that were in the market for small hatches to steer clear of the Mazda3. Both my friend and I experienced premature rusting. Unless Mazda addresses this serious issue, they cannot expect to sell cars in the salt belt.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      You’re not wrong about the rusting, but it hasn’t impacted the 3′s sales – it spent a month or two in 1st place in Canadian sales last year, and I think it came in at #3 overall. That said, the Elantra will definitely be a problem (#1 last month), and the updated Civic won’t help either.

    • 0 avatar

      @changsta: Exactly why I would not buy a new or used one. The winter sand/salt in the greater-NYC area is pretty rough stuff. 

      -That and the damn clown-face grille on the newest 3.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I might look at a Mazda 3 if they fix the front end.  The Miata is nice but I already have too many toys, same with the RX8.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    I tried to talk the wife into a 2010 Mazda5 this past fall.  I honestly tried.  I thought it drove great, handled well, and felt sprightly enough despite the automatic transmission my wife’s cartilage-free left knee requires.
     
    She fell in love with a 4-year old 88k mile Odyssey instead.  It was only about $4k cheaper than the 5s we were looking at, but I think she felt the extra interior volume of the Honda was nearly a price of entry for “her” vehicle and she preferred the larger van’s ride/handling balance.  I must admit the Ody readily handles 15 over the yellow signs on turns/ramps without complaint.  She would never toss it in much above that (I would) where the Mazda5′s relatively flat cornering and better steering feel shine through.
     
    When I test drove a 2010 Mazda3 just after they came out I would have bought one over a Fit or SX4 despite the higher price and joker face except I decided not to purchase a vehicle at all at that time for financial reasons.
     
    My sister has an 05/06 Mazda6s GrandTouring, although saddled with an automatic.  I’ve never considered her anywhere approaching an enthusiast though.

    • 0 avatar
      gessvt

      Interesting post.  We’ll be in the same situation in a couple years.  I’ve suggested that we should look at the Mazda5 and Ford C-Max to replace our 2005 Monterey (aka Freestar).  Since Ford and GM are out of the minivan game, and we won’t consider anything from Chrysler or Toyota, an Odyssey may be our only alternative if she is not comfortable downsizing.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Can I ask why you wont consider anything from Chrysler or Toyota?  How about Kia or Hyundai?

      I wasnt going to comment, but after seeing your reply, I had to.  Am I the only one who thinks its insane to have bought a 4yo, 88k miles Honda for a savings of only $4k off a brand new Mazda?  I know how people love thier Odysseys, but the pricing is crazy IMO.  Its a minivan… a true vehiclular appliance, dedicated to hauling kids and dogs and inlaws.

      Used Chryslers and Kias are available for significantly less money, and there are many, many more to choose from.  If the badge bothers you, a used Routan is one of the best bargains out there.  You could replace the entire drivetrain of a Chrysler for the difference in price between that and the Honda.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    I’m exempt as I own a Mazda but here’s a bunch of stuff anyway:
    No BT-50 3.2 Diesel. I want a Mazda truck. I’ve begged them but they say no. No US sales planed. They lost themselves a truck sale.
    No Miata MGB-GT wannabe like they’ve been promising for, oh, the past 20 years.
    No four door sedan or wagon based off the Miata chassis (RX-8 doesn’t count!!!).
    I’d add easily chipped paint, crappy lightweight stock batteries, a penchant for rusting, no real overdrive in the manual transmissions (3000 rpm @70mph) and a lack of sound deadening but that makes them go faster!

    • 0 avatar
      Strippo

      No four door sedan or wagon based off the Miata chassis (RX-8 doesn’t count!!!).
      Preach it. I’ve said here before that Mazda should offer what BMW once did. There’s such a void for folks who don’t even know they’d love a 2011 Mazda “2002″ compared to other offerings because there’s just nothing like it out there now. If it’s rwd with an ice and more than two doors, it’s gonna be porky. I don’t do porky.

  • avatar

    As someone who drove a Mazda 3 hatch for 3 years, I’ve looked at a few of Mazda’s current offerings before I got my current car, a WRX hatch.

    I’d have considered the Speed 3 if it didn’t have FWD, or that nasty smile.
    I’d have considered the Miata but I wanted something more practical. Persistent rumors of a drastically lighter next-gen car doesn’t help either.
    I’d have considered the RX-8 if not for concerns over the Rotary engine.

    The 6 is too bloated. Thanks, Camcord.
    The 2 feels like a step down from the 3.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. I happily drive an 06 Mazda3 sedan, but too many of their current offerings either have that goofy grin or supposedly have a vastly better replacement coming out in the next few years. I’m happy to keep enjoying my car and see what they deliver on in the next few years.

    • 0 avatar
      quiksilver180

      Every time I see the new Mazda3, I usually laugh and say under my breath, “Why So Serious?”

  • avatar
    zeus01

    Mazda would have out-sold both Honda and Toyota by now if it hadn’t been for that ultra-retarded smiley-face grille….

  • avatar
    hyundaivirgin

    Previous owner of a 323, MPV, 626. Now have a Prius for the mpg and Elantra Touring for fun and hauling. Why not Mazda anymore? Fuel efficiency and price. Also am turned off by Mazda’s low-brow cornball marketing to teens. I’d rather save gas, save money, and not feel like I am undergoing juvenile regression while doing it.

    • 0 avatar
      xer 21

      you bought a less than 140 horsepower elantra for “fun”?

    • 0 avatar
      mikedt

      juvenile marketing? what ads are you watching? I can’t remember the last time I even saw a teenager in mazda commercial. Unless you’re somehow offended by zoom-zoom?

      • 0 avatar
        xer 21

        the mazda 2 ads are the only ones i can see as kinda targeting the younger audience.  but since its coming from a guy who considers the elantra touring his fun car, he might just have a bit of a skewed perspective.

      • 0 avatar
        hyundaivirgin

        It’s an Elantra Touring, aka i30cw. Yes, fun and refined, maybe you missed TTAC’s review here? Direct quote: “a pretty compelling package—a spacious, well-equipped, practical, fun-to-drive runabout with plenty of attitude. And if the Touring is underpowered, at least it doesn’t know it.”

        The last three Mazda commercials I saw were the one for the 3 with the twins, the one where an annoying woman tries to return a Honda Odyssey because she saw a Mazda MPV for less, and the one where the 6 is introduced in a Coliseum-like gladiator arena (I know these are old, I don’t watch TV much).

        My lasting impressions from seeing each commercial once were:
        1. I would not want to be seen driving a car that is sold using images of blond twins. I like blond twins like everybody else but I would not want to be thought of as the kind of person who bases my decision on them when the once-per-5-years process of buying a car comes around. And Mazda says they want to be an upscale brand?
        2. It was a low blow to show the Honda salesman walking away to reveal a bald spot, and the woman was made to act incredibly dumb. It’s not a good idea to sell a car with negative images, even if they are supposed to be of a competitor’s employee or customer. In this case it’s worse; Mazda is saying they want to win annoying dumb customers by competing on price. And Mazda says they want to be an upscale brand?
        3. Is that person pushing through the crowd a boy or a girl? After reflecting it must be a prepubescent boy, which would fit with this gladiator theme which is popular in movies and video games for that age. But who could possibly relate to what a prepubescent boy thinks of a car except for pubescent boys? Same thing with the zoom zoom boy. Boys are not very convincing at selling serious expensive things. And again, Mazda says they want to be an upscale brand?

    • 0 avatar
      xer 21

      @hyundaivirgin i guess my thinking was, if you have the kind of disposable income to buy a relatively new car for the sake of fun, why not like, anything else?  i could understand if you could only get one car and you had a budget and needed certain things out of it, but really, this doesnt seem to be the case.
       
      also on the ads you mentioned, 1. I cant believe you wouldnt by a car because you’re afraid others might see you in the car, connect it to a commercial, then disapprove. how self-concious and stuck up is that?  no one’s gonna think you bought a car because of blond twins.  2. its called humour, and while it may have failed, a ton of other car companies are guilty of cheesy advertising just the same. 3. a ton of people can identify with a prepubescent boy, because some people first started loving cars at that age and can fondly recall the wonder they experienced when first learning about cars, back when practicality and the quality of the touch surfaces and the quietness of the cabin didnt matter nearly as much as how cool the car looked, how awesome it sounded and how fast it could go.  you’re overthinking the ads and i think are also just a bit jaded.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      So you made a major purchase and life decision because you didnt like the commercials Mazda did 5 yrs ago??  Thats like passing up on a great house deal because you dont like the gold jackets your Century 21 agent was wearing.  And on top of that, you figured Hyundai has better marketing?  To sell expensive things?

      Oh, and Mazda never claimed to be an upscale brand.  They claim to be an enthusiast brand, actually, they generally play on thier value too.

      If your proud of what you bought, hey, great, I am happy for you, you dont have to defend your purchase.  But your reasoning for NOT choosing Mazda doesnt hold water.

  • avatar
    segfault

    I like Mazda but have never owned one.  Their fuel economy tends to be lower than the industry leaders.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The word ‘enthusiast’ is overused when it comes to cars, and I don’t like that ad.  If I don’t drive a Mazda, does that mean I’m not an enthusiast?
     
    To tell you the truth, I’m not sure I am an ‘enthusiast’ by the prevailing definition.  I don’t powerslide/drift my Sedona, xB, or Elantra; I don’t do jackrabbit starts from every light, and I don’t stare at every Corvette on the road.  I hope the cars I drive meet the needs of the moment, don’t aggravate me, and don’t cost too much to own.  I sometimes enjoy driving them while I’m trying to get from Point A to Point B.
     
    If I attend an occasional car cruise, visit several mfr web sites and blogs, and change my own oil, does that make me an enthusiast?

    • 0 avatar

      No.  I define an ethusiast as someone who always looks to take the long, windy way home.  Two Toyotas and a Hyundai?  No, you are someone who likes something practical and reliable and is looking to save a buck changing your oil. 

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      +! Jason… and no gslippy, I dont consider you an enthusiast either.  There is nothing wrong with that, but that attitude is also whats killing off our options for buying “fun” cars.  I saw fuel economy listed quite a few times in others comments as to why they wont buy a Mazda.  I will gladly give up a cpl mpgs for a fun drive.  If you want economy, get a Prius, otherwise, buy what you like.  The difference in mpg between a Corolla and a Mazda3 isnt that big of a deal.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Does that make me an enthusiast? It does in my opinion.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @gslippy: Yes, you’re an enthusiast. Just as much as the hypermilers or the old car freaks are. Only you are allowed to define your enthusiasm, not someone else.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    A small sedan using the Miata platform (that doesn’t look like windowless roach ala Hyundai) would be pretty nice…

    • 0 avatar
      KitaIkki

      Yes!  A lightweight (< 3000 lb), RWD, boxy, 4 or 5 seat, Datsun 510 / BMW 2002 revival on a stretched Miata chassis, powered by a 200hp 4-cyl. with 6-spd manual.  There is nothing like it on the US market today.

      • 0 avatar
        FuzzyPlushroom

        I’m thinking of a slightly-scaled-up, real-world sport sedan/hatch styled like the Ford 021C. Seriously, hatchback – either three- or five-door – squarish styling, RWD, and manual and I’ll be there. (I’d welcome a sedan, too, but couldn’t justify one as easily.)

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        I grew up in the back seats of matching 82 Accord hatchbacks and when I bought my first car many years later it was an 85 Accord sedan.  I think it’s just a rebellious streak that pushes me toward sedans.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I dunno. Mazda certainly TRIES hard. I think the Miata and RX-8 are terrific fun. But the regular cars don’t appeal nearly as much as a driving enthusiast as VWs do. Totally different feel, not say it is bad, necessarily, but hardly gets me all excited either. Certainly WAAAAY better than a Toyota. About on par with what Honda used to be, before they sold thier soul.

    Even a base model Golf has a fundamental rightness about the way it goes down the road that only the Germans seem to be able to achieve. I’ve driven a number of Mazda3s and they just don’t do it for me.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    “A car that isn’t worth driving isn’t worth building.’  That never stopped anyone before, including Mazda.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Mazda has a huge gap in their line up. Sure the Miata (MX-5)and Speed 3 are great but then you jump to the RX-8… a ride best know for its horrible mileage and oil sucking engine. Compared against other offerings Mazda falls short in the one category that they should own out right. They really need a return to the RX7, with a light weight RWD liftback but powered but a turbo 4. Get rid of the rotary is just a mess for every day (non-track) use. I considering buy a Mazda Speed 6 for awhile, but the gas mileage to performance ratio just isn’t there, better off with a WRX I think.

  • avatar
    itsgotvtakyo

    I would own a Miata in a heart beat if I wasn’t 6’4 and 250lbs. I am absolutely in LOVE with the FD but the price, questionably stability of wenkel, price of admission and the fact I already have two toys from Honda takes it out of play. Love the balance and feel of the RX8 but the (again) questionable stability of the engine and my Honda toys keeps it out. I have nothing against the company or their products at all, they just don’t fit me or my life right now.

  • avatar
    RGS920

    IMHO Mazda just doesn’t build exciting engines.  IMO not a single car Mazda makes provides everything an enthusiast wants.  It’s a compromise.  You want a great handling car you can buy an MX5 or RX8 but neither of them have any straight line performance.  You want a car with straight line performance you can buy a MazdaSpeed3.  But of course the Speed3 is wrong wheel drive.  If Mazda is serious about catoring to enthusiasts they have to be willing to build a car which delivers BOTH amazing handling and straight line performance.  Honestly, the last true performance car Mazda made was the RX-7. 

  • avatar
    Wagen

    The only thing stopping me from owning a Mazda is that I don’t quite fit comfortably in the MX-5 (a rather um, big boned, 6’2″ which fit comfortably in a Z4).  And it’d be nice if the MX-5 had fully defeatable stability control available across the board instead of only in the top trim.  I don’t share the disdain for the current styling of which most are critical.  Perhaps if they had a RWD full-size flagship (modern-day 929; Mazda9?) in the vein of the G8 I’d own that.

    So far, my 3er has provided the best balance of comfort and fun I’ve found as a daily driver.  But when it’s time to retire it, I’m seriously considering replacing it with a fun car and a practical/comfortable one.  If they continue to slightly upsize the cabin as they have in the previous generations, maybe it’ll be replaced with an MX-5 and a Panther.

  • avatar
    micvog

    Owned the first year of the previous-gen 6 and really liked that car. The last two Mazdas we have looked at have had suspect interior assembly quality (CX-7 – we ultimately bought a Forester; and the current 6 to replace my Jetta).

  • avatar
    spinjack

    Mazda, as a company sells great cars, but they seem to keep missing the sweet spots. I seriously considered an RX-8, but the reason I finally went with a used 330Ci instead is that the RX-8 was gutless around town in day to day driving. The RX-8 is a great performance car, but when not driven in anger it’s unappealing. I would have bought the RX-8 if it had a V6 or turbo I4. The rotary is very cool, but not really practical.

    Also considered the CX-9 before settling on a Highlander. Wife veto’d that one because it was too car-like (go figure). Point being, the CX-9 is likely more appealing to men than women and men. Do men want CUV’s rather than true SUV’s? 

    The Miata is in a class be itself, but it is mostly a toy. 

    Mazda3 and Mazda6 compete against “safe” choices from Honda and Toyota (and now Hyundai). The 3 and 6 are more of an unknown element than the tried and true Hondas and Toyotas (from a general public perspective standpoint). 

    Mazda is not really considered mainstream and they suffer for it. Most likely, their performance products would do much better if they sold an appliance to go head to head with the Accord/Camry/Sonata. Or they could go the other way and become a poor man’s Porsche. Right now, however, they are in the no man’s land of not really pure performance and not really appliances.

    • 0 avatar

      Right now, however, they are in the no man’s land of not really pure performance and not really appliances.
       
      Well said.

    • 0 avatar
      B.C.

      Particularly the USDM Mazda6. Bigger and softer than the rest-of-the-world version, but I haven’t seen that many around (in SoCal). I do like the Mazda6 hatch, but whaddya know … they don’t sell em here.

    • 0 avatar
      Jason

      Mazda3 and Mazda6 compete against “safe” choices from Honda and Toyota (and now Hyundai).
       
      …and Kia.  I just looked between a Mazda3 and a Forte5 and ended up with the Kia.  Aside from handling, everything was either matched or exceeded by the Forte in my opinion.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Kia’s improvement and relatively dramatic (and more universally attractive) styling are likely to be a real problem for Mazda.  

        It seems like every “hit” Mazda’s had recently has been followed by a Kia that’s ever so slightly better done: the 5 and Rondo, 6 and Optima, 2 and Soul.  The 3 is still a great car (and the Forte kind of meh) but Kia presents a real threat to Mazda’s base.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Of course, the handling is the entire point.  If you dont care about it, then you arent going for the enthusiast choice, you were shopping value.  Unless you plan on dropping in a set of coilovers on the Forte to bring it up to snuff…

        Good looking car though, and no stupid smiley face.  Kia’s have good style these days…

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        The Forte is better than people give it credit for, and not far off the 3 (which is more refined than people realize, especially people coming out of a Protege).  The Optima is certainly as sporty as the 6 (and the Camry SE is sportier than either of them!).  The Rondo doesn’t hold up to the 5, but then the Sportage and Sorrento are about on-par with the CX and Tribute.  Mazda has no Soul or Sedona; Kia has no RX-8 or Miata.
         
        Mazda could choose to be sportier, but they risk pigeonholing themselves.  Move more to the mainstream and they risk Mitsubishi’s fate (irrelevancy).  I’d advise they do both: offer mainstream stuff, but at least keep the highly-sporty option for a minimal cost: stock a stick-shift 6 with a V6, tighten the suspension a little more, put the MazdaSpeed suspension in the base 3.
         
        Because it’s embarrassing the Toyota makes a sportier Camry than Mazda makes a 6.

  • avatar

    I would rather get a used older nicer car than a new Mazda.

  • avatar

    I really wanted to like Mazda. But my experience (with their flagship model in 2007) has not been a good one.
     
    A further two service visits since that post. Another failed bypass valve (I’m now on my third) and one to diagnose a strange clunk coming from the drivetrain (~50k miles, car has never been autocrossed or taken to the track and is bone stock). I have a guy coming to look at it this weekend—hoping he buys it so I can move on with my life.
     
    Sorry Mazda, the enthusiast in me just can’t get enthusiastic about six service visits since November (outside of regular maintenance).

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    We currently have 2 Mazdas in our garage — a Miata and a CX-7.  We’d have a 3rd Mazda, parked next to our Miata, if it wasn’t for Mazda’s godawful smile fetish.  The first generation 3 was and is a great looking car.  It’s tasteful, classic even.  The current 3?  Give me a break. And as others have mentioned, the fuel economy compared to others is not competitive. Perhaps real world is better than the sticker. I’ll probably never know.

    The last 6?  Not bad.  I think it aged well, and though relatively small, had a place in the market.  The current 6?  No thanks. 

    The last generation 5?  Looks good, drives good.  It’s design and purpose was refreshing.  The current 5?  Holy crap.  What were they smoking?  The swoopy sides and the muddled nose found no buyer in me. Oh, and they should give us a 7 passenger option in the 5 just like Mazda offers the rest of the world.

    The RX-8?  Again, before the redesign, it was slick (I still want one–but not new) and spoke to the enthusiast in me.  After the redesign, though subtle compared to its siblings, it’s just not as pretty.

    I loved Mazda, now I see them as tragic.  The way they’ve butta faced most of their line is disgusting.  Their cars might be fun for a midnight fling, but I ain’t handing out any rings and putting one of those suckers in my garage.  Let someone else do it….even if she can cook.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    They should put their design where their mouth is, and then if its good enough, maybe they will reap mucho dollars.
     
    However, they sent a detailed message to auto enthusiasts when they made the latest version of the Mazda6 that they are no longer interested. Gone was the manual transmission option, gone was the smaller class size, weight and handling feel.
     
    The other problem, which they must be well aware of after all these years, is comparative weakness in torque from most of their engines. How many sales has that cost? Many. The most extreme example is the RX8, which has been dying for a turbo as standard equipment for years. Now what is the future for that car and why didn’t more people buy it?
     
    Visual design mistakes too, such as the sales killing Mazda3 front end.
     
    This is no market to be expecting success after doing/not doing these things when other manufacturers are improving.
     

  • avatar
    Derby129

    This from a man who carefully chose a 2006 Mazda6 with both the 5 speed and hatchback configuration. 200K later I’ve flat out refused to look at another 6 as they’ve dropped the hatchback option.

    I know that Mazda is not alone in the whole “leaving large hatchbacks & wagons in the Old Country” mentality but it sure is a turnoff. The 3 is offered in a hatch of course, but it – and most other Mazdas today – look as if they’ve been self medicating for far too long.

    It’s like having the quirkiness of Subaru without any unique selling propositions. At least Subies have AWD across the board.

  • avatar
    OmarCCXR

    Right now I’m looking into buying a used Mazda Protege5, love the way it looks, even today. However, if I can’t find one around my area with a manual transmission (which is harder than it seems) I might just have to go for a Honda Prelude instead. 

    If I had the money though, I would definitely opt for a MX-5, a Speed3 or even the amazingly awesome RX-8. I’m a Mazda fan at heart.

    I also have a friend that wants an RX-8 quite badly and since this is the last year that car will be available, he’s making some risky economic decisions. All for the joy of driving.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Good luck finding a used Protege5, I havent seen any worth buying for the last year or so.  Ppl who own them keep them and drive them until the die, or they beat the crap out of them.  I loved mine!!!

      You know, used RX8s are cheap as crap.  If you can stretch the budget, you might consider stepping up to one, and from what I understand, Mazda upgraded every RX8 to a 100k powertrain warranty regardless of age.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      I haven’t seen a Protege5 around here in the midwest that doesn’t have rust around the rear wheel arches.

  • avatar
    Jason

    I bought a new small hatchback this week.  The only reason its not a Mazda3 is that they willfully ruined an already perfect car with WTF styling.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I have a Tribute CUV – because I needed a small five door hatchback with a 4 cylinder and a manual transmission.  (Toyota RAV4′s and Honda CR-V’s with manual transmissions are difficult to find.)  Sportiness didn’t figure in to the equation – or – is a manual transmission cconsidered sportry?
     
    To me Mazda is just to small too go it alone with a full line-up in North America. They are where they are today by teaming up with Ford – which creates a problem.  If Ford isn’t ready to move forward with sharing a new platform with Mazda, then any new platform will be an expensive proposition for Mazda.
     
    Lastly, the smiley face needs to be greatly toned downed, hopefully by the 2012 model year.

  • avatar
    EyeMWing

    If I were buying new, Mazda(Speed 3) all day every day. Problem: I am neither buying new, nor am I buying at all. A hydrogen-fueled Wankel may be the last dying gasp of Internal Combustion.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    For me, Mazda’s offerings are always in 2nd or 3rd place. Mazda2? Took too long to make its way over, and ended up being significantly heavier and thirstier than the smart. Mazdaspeed Protege? Bigger and heavier and more fragile than the SE-R. NC Miata or RX8? Nope, got an S2000.

  • avatar

    I feel I can answer this pretty well, since I USED to own a 2005 Mazda 3 Sport GT but recently dumped it for a much different car…a 2005 Subaru Outback 3.0R, having previously gotten the most enjoyment out of a slow and smelly 2001 Jetta TDI. Why?

    Quality was part of the issue. The handling was amazing, really, the little 3 was so fun in the corners, but the tires were wearing out after just 30,000kms, and I had already been a victim of premature rust (which Mazda Canada promised to repair, but then left the dealership with as soon as it was done). The car felt cheap, and the ride felt cheap. The AC was extremely weak.
    Other problem: Mazda could build a suitable NA yet fun 3, but doesn’t. My Mazda was, mostly thanks to quickly wearing and howling rubber, very noisy at highway speeds, and revved high, meaning I got rubbish fuel economy to boot. Since the majority of my longest commutes are at 100km/h on the highway, it was wearing.

    The handling was great, but the cost was a very harsh ride. When I spend 5% of my time turning and 95% just wanting to not feel every piece of gravel, it got gradually more frustrating. So, really, it came down to quality and refinement. With building costs and repairs to boot, I wasn’t willing to trade those two things for nice handling and a great transmission.

    Am I less of an enthusiast? I questioned that for a while after selling it. The Outback doesn’t handle poorly, but its not special in that regard. It is a quiet cruiser, with good quality and lots of quirky details. It also feels extremely solid and reassuring. I came to the conclusion that an enthusiast is someone who pays attention to their cars, and notices the little details they love, and appreciates and challenges their ride no matter what it is. To me, “enthusiast” seems synonymous with “willing to put up with the punishment” where it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Whereas, with the 3 I used to smile when I drove around a roundabout quickly, now I smile when the Subaru faultlessly handles my snowdrift infested lane-way, or blithely dispatches a huge pothole.

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      You’re right on the noise and lack of refinement.  A Mazda is a fun car to drive but can’t be your only car if you drive long distances regularly.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      Definitely agree on all aspects…why? Because I made the same change. The Outback has very direct steering, even on tall Geolander AT tires. I try to consider what I’ll replace my old TL with, I think it may just be a Legacy sedan (with MT like the Outback). It’s a fine chassis, with tight steering and a long-travel suspension.

      The 3 (GT wagon) detoriated quickly after 60k miles. I definitely regretted my decision, and wish I had gotten the Civic Si hatch (EP3) instead, but due to family changes that would have been gone too. At 60k miles, the Mazda went through 2 motor mounts, new radiator, new radio, new instrument cluster, and quite honestly…the potential for rust did not sit well with me. The only modification I made was a Racing Beat rear sway bar.

    • 0 avatar
      200k-min

      The car felt cheap, and the ride felt cheap

      That’s been the primary factor that has kept me away from Mazda.  I also cannot stand the Zoom-Zoom tag line.  I have many times tried to liked to 6 as a replacement to my Accord.  Then every time I test drive one I notice how cheap it is compared to a Honda that’s over 10 years older.  The all around feel of the vehicle feels flimsy.  Honda and Toyota and Nissan to a lesser extent can build a vehicle that feels solid, Mazda not quite yet.  By comparison I recently had a Fusion as a rental car.  It was surprisingly better in every way than the latest Mazda 6 I test drove.  That includes sporty drive.  Maybe the problem was Mazda super sizing the 6 as I wouldn’t expect the Ford to give me a more sporting feel.  Still, at the end of the day, what will keep me from buying a vehicle is when it feels cheap.  I think that plays a huge role in the sales success of both Honda and Toyota.  I’ll give up some HP and whatnot if it feels like I’m getting something for my $20k+ of hard earned cash.

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        Everything from Japan, even new Acuras, feel cheaper than my 98 TL. In terms of switchgear and materials, it may not be as advanced on features, but they feel more solid and have a nice fluid operation.

  • avatar
    flgatorfan

    Abhorrent smiley face on the MS3 and too much hassle with the rotary in the RX-8.  3 needs a good looking face, and the RX-8 needs to retain excellent handling while offering a piston engine.

  • avatar
    shortthrowsixspeed

    in 2003, I was fresh out of college and in need of a new ride.  I had precious few dollars, but knew I would be keeping my purchase long-term so chose to look new.  I looked at civics, corollas, sentras, ions, foci, cavaliers, and proteges.  All econoboxes, but the mazda was the most fun to drive and I was sold.  It didn’t hurt that the Mazda 3 was coming out in 04 so they were practically giving the proteges away.  I’m still driving it.  It’s not flashy, but it’s been good to me.      

  • avatar
    SecretAznMan

    TTAC, you’ve solidified your position as my new goto car blog.  I saw this ad earlier today and thought it would be great if a car blog talked about it.  I didn’t bother to submit a tip since I didn’t think any would take it seriously.  I’m gawking at you Jalopnik.
    I know I addressed the question posed in an thread months ago, but just couldn’t find it using the search.  In any case, Mazda seems to play this game with customers whereby to experience the ecstasy of one aspect of their cars, the owner must make significant sacrifices.  For amazing handling and practical capacity of an RX-8, you must live with oil consumption, poor fuel economy and middling power.  For the handling an styling of the CX-7, you must sacrifice fuel economy.
    I’m a total Mazda fanboy.  I sold my parents on a 5 and my sister on a 3.  My wife and I have a PRHT MX-5.  All have been very reliable.  They just seem to be a very righteous company.  Make a good product and market it everywhere.  Light weight and not batteries are the key to efficiency.  Their zoom-zoom mantra isn’t some flash in the pants marketing gimmick.  It really seems to be a driving force in their product design.
    So why didn’t we replace our Focus hatchback with a Mazda?  Mazda listened to their bean counters and didn’t bring over the JDM 6 wagon.  We wanted a sporty, fuel efficient wagon with manual transmission.  I might have even accepted a 2.5L CX-7, but the lack of a manual in the US killed it for us.
    If you’re going to be a niche player, then freaking own that niche.  There’s not  a real player in the wagon market right now since Subaru has abandoned it.  I tell you the time is coming for the return of the wagon.  Bring the diesel and it will be like a unicorn coming down from a double rainbow.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      +100 and an amen on top of that!

      Own the niche!  Offer sticks on every car.  Give us the cars that Honda used to sell, at least offer a sport suspension.  Yea, it will cost more, and yea, you probably wont sell many anyways, but just offering it sends a clear message:  “Come here for fun to drive cars”.  And dont place ads like this one and then not back it up.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      Subaru still offers a stick on every model, just not the lower Legacy wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        I like Subaru… to me they are in a very similar situation as Mazda.  I am not crazy about what they did to the Legacy, but I like the Outback Sport, I saw one when I was shopping last year and it seems to be an amazing value.  If they pull off the Toyoburu properly, they will be one of my favorite manufacturers.

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        Agreed, the Legacy (like the 6) is larger than it needs to be. But, with the H6 it is a nice car for cruising and hauling up the mountains to a cabin in winter (we had a loaner). The turbo and manual would be even better. All I know is, our next Outback will have the H6…since my wife is the primary driver, I’m not as concerned about having a manual again.

        Except they’re not in the same situation as Mazda, they offer unique products. Mazda offers 1, the RX8. Subaru offers boxers and all-wheel-drive, but they also offer more rugged chassis designs, long-travel suspensions (almost 9 inches of clearance on the OB), and a durable product. Who else offers a 5-door vehicle with a manual transmission and a locking rear differential? Something that you can compare to the Camcords but also the midsize CUVs and SUVs.

        In fact, last night I took my month-old son for a car ride at 1030 to get him to fall asleep. It’s been about 3 weeks since I drove the Outback (been traveling alot), but even longer since I got it on some nice 2-lane country roads in the foothills of Idaho. Even with 170HP it was still enjoyable to drive, nice direct steering, absorbs the road nicely, torquey in 3rd gear, and quite honestly a perfect seating position. You sit normal for a wagon/sedan, but you can see a little further since you’re about 4-5 inches higher than a typical car.

        Mazda offers the same product that everyone else does in a slightly different wrapper and with cheaper products. Yes, they do handle well but that is it.

        Finally, I’ve noticed that you think that if someone doesn’t own a “proper” vehicle like your FWD hatchback, they’re not a true-enthusiast. Enthusiasm is found in any person that enjoys all cars, but not everyone can afford or can put a “proper” car in their garage. We ask alot of our large purchase, and we have to meet our primary needs first and foremost.

    • 0 avatar
      SecretAznMan

      There has been quite an amazing number of responses over such a small volume player!  Let me just summarize my thoughts for Mazda, if they’re listening.  I don’t think “zoom-zoom” means they must only make hard core race cars.  It just means that their cars need to have a soul unlike an appliance.  Overall, I think they do a good job at this, but they have to be more vigilant at maintaining this course.  Don’t try to be a mass market leader by making a bloated Mazda6 just because focus groups (wrong ones) say it may improve numbers.  Know that the JDM model is good, and sell it everywhere.  I don’t know about the complaints regarding interior quality.  Always remember function over form.  I personally value the presence of the right switch, in the right place, manipulated in the right way over how expensive it feels.  Then again, no compromises!
       
      Finally, consider this, if the vehicle isn’t worth driving with a manual, it isn’t worth making.

  • avatar

    I am an unapologetic Mazda fanboi.   First a 2001 Miata and then bought a 2007 335i when they came out but missed the Miata so much that i get rid of it a year later and got a 2006 Miata again.  The BMW had nothing on the driver involvement/fun of the Miata.  Wife has a 2007 Mazda6 that we both love.   No Mazda has given me a bit of trouble; the same could not be said for the BMW or the Sentra she previously owned.

    I agree that Mazda needs to do more to stand out; they are the best driver’s cars and handle great for the money but Americans are stupid.  They prefer torque and power to finese.   Next year i am looking to buy another car and Mazda are at the top.  Either a Sky-D Mazda6/CX-7 or a Sky-G Mazda3.   And when the new Miata comes out?  Sold.  I dont even need to drive it first.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    My wife has owned two Mazda’s both Proteges. Must admit they didn’t rust but everything attached to it was cheap. Both cars had great engines & transmissions but having to replace the front brakes every 20,000 miles started to wear thin. Dealing with the Mazda dealer was like dealing with the devil. Their parts were twice the price of my VW parts. Finally got smart and sold the last Mazda a few years ago and will never go back. Brought the wife a used Volvo C30 and she loves it, i love the CPO warranty.    

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I agree with this.  The product is solid, but the dealer network is lousy, the consumables poor and the parts cost problematic.  

      A few years ago—probably nearly a decade, now that I think about it—Mazda tried to do something about the latter issue by cutting parts prices dramatically. Their dealer network responded by…doing noting and simply making higher margin.  

      I remember that brakes on my Protege didn’t last much at all: the discs warped and wore fairly regularly and the pads wore quickly.  Switching away from Mazda OEM parts helped, but it was telling that our Sienna has accumulated the same miles and, despite weighing much more, hasn’t needed new pads or rotors.  

      Toyota, to their credit, really got a handle on this: consumers, by and large, want their car to not cost a lot.  That means fuel efficiency, reliability and (enthusiasts forget this) inexpensive and long-lasting parts.  The Corolla might be miserable, but damn is it cheap to keep.  Mazda never got this, and I think it’s directly reflected in their market share.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Correct me if I am wrong, but isnt the C30 built on the same platform as the Mazda3??

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        @mnm4ever
        You are correct, sir!

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Thought so… and if he thought Mazda parts were expensive, wait until he has to buy Mazda parts from the Volvo dealer… LOL

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        For many Mazdas you can just buy the equivalent Ford part.  That’s what I ended up doing and it worked out pretty well.

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        The platform may be the same, but many of the parts are not the same. I looked at the V50, there wasn’t much similiarity between the 3 wagon I was trading in and the V50 wagon I was looking at. The V50 did have AWD as well.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Unless by “looking at” you mean you put it on a lift and started disassembling the suspension, they you cant really tell.  Popping the hood on most cars only shows you the plastic they decided to use, and its common knowledge that the big difference from Ford to Mazda to Volvo is the engine… Volvo has a unique 5cyl.  The C30 isnt available with AWD either, same as the Mazda.  And, not like it matters… even if every part in the Volvo was unique to the brand, the price of parts is still going to be more expensive than the equivilent Ford or Mazda.

        I do like the C30, its sweet looking and the interior is great… I wanted to look at them but I couldnt even find one for sale in my area that wasnt brand new and loaded to the gills.  But I never tried to kid myself into thinking I would choose the C30 over the Mazda3 to save money on parts.

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        They were both on the lift, my father in law is good friends with the owner of the Volvo shop in town (and we had a 760 at the time too) and we brought the V50 to have him inspect it (he was also the primary service person the car. They are not similiar in suspension design, brake design, most of the floorpan design either. The basic structure of the C1 platform is the same, but that’s about it. Volvo contributed much to the safety engineering but tailored the car to fit their needs. The C30 is a shortened S40/V50, but like you said only FWD.

        Also, unlike the Mazda, the Volvo didn’t have FoMoCo plastered all over every part. My point was, you’re not paying a markup on an identical part. It’s not like how some SAAB parts were really just GM parts.

        We didn’t buy the Volvo because it was not worth spending the money for not much more room and no manual with AWD.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I actually kind of dig the current version of the Mazda6.  If, for some crazy reason, I needed a new midsize sedan, my money would either go to the 6 or the Kizashi.
     
    Then again, I consider myself more of a “car enthusiast” than a “driving enthusiast”.

  • avatar
    Matthew Sullivan

    Mazda might be able to sell me a car if they would put a roof on the Miata, AWD in the MazdaSpeed 3, or a real engine in the RX8.

  • avatar

    I have owned two Mazdas – a 93 Protégé and an 86 323 – both were great cars, reliable and fun to drive.
    In fact I like most of their lineup notwithstanding the 6 which is bloated and no longer has a wagon offered.
    And I would certainly consider buying another one- in particular the Mazdaspeed 3-but there are a few issues; the smiley faced front end, the torque steer and most of all no all wheel drive.
    Once you own AWD it’s hard to move back to FWD IMHO.
    In a way I’m looking for an excuse to buy another Mazda, but pushing 265 BHP through the front wheels may be a deal breaker.

  • avatar
    Redshift

    Why does every one of these conversations always make me feel abnormal for actually viewing the rotary engine in my RX-8 as one of the pro’s, not a con?  I’m not 100% sure I would have bought one if it didn’t have it.
    I’ll just have to look forward to the Deal’s Gap Rotary Rally in two weeks for some affirmation of this “lifestyle choice.”
    I appreciate Mazda for their attempts at delivering mass-market enthusiast options, going their own way to be just a little bit different, and for their support of grassroots motor sports to a level that shames all other manufacturers.
    Judging by my garage, I guess we walk the enthusiast walk (RX-8, RX-7 and Mazdaspeed Protege in the garage for toys) vs. the driveway, with a 2004 Subaru Impreza for her daily driver and a 1993 for my winter beater.   Even my “appliance” cars are a bit quirky with an enthusiast bent.
    For comparison, I used to have Honda’s (CRX, traded for SiR coupe, plus an Integra daily driver in there) and they simply don’t make anything I’m interested in anymore.
    Mazda could be (or should be) what Honda used to.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Nice lineup!!  And you are abnormal… lol… but in a good way.  Most people dont get the appeal of the rotary engine.  It doesnt fit their stereotypical ideal of a performance engine.  Its different, unique, it has its strengths and weaknesses.  I admire Mazda for sticking with it.  You would think this crowd would appreciate that Mazda still offers a unique dedicated sports car platform and hasnt sold out like Nissan.

      • 0 avatar
        colin42

        I get the appeal of the Rotary – I had a lease RX8 for 6 months, but the <20 mpg with premium fuel doesn’t appeal + had to ensure it was warm before key off – which actually wasn’t a negative ;-)

        The RX 8

        +ve
        Rear seat access – really easy to fit a baby seat in the back
        Great handling
        Good looks
        Revy engine

        -ve
        Fuel economy
        No torque
        trunk opening was small – would have preferred if it was a hatch

        I’m now driving a Merc C230 Sport coupe which answers many of the -ve of the RX8 but has so far cost me a small fortune in repairs

        Actually a modern version of the C230 (>3300lb, 4 seater, 3door hatch with RWD & manual) but made by Hyundai would be great but considering no-one brought the C230 I’m probably in the minority

    • 0 avatar
      lastwgn

      You have nailed a very important point.  Anyone that thinks the RX-8 should have a different engine completely misunderstands the entire engineering proposition put forth by the rotary engine.  The small size of the rotary engine allows for the platform to be designed in a way that allows for a full 4 passenger cabin within sports car dimensions.  Unlike any Mustang, Camaro, or BMW or Lexus sport coupe, the RX-8′s rear seat is both accessible and useable.  Gas mileage is not great for a car of its size, but is certainly on par with other sports cars.  My ’05 RX-8 has been the best car I have ever had, and although it averages about 18-20 mpg per tank of gas, the smile per gallon are off the charts.  And that it what enthusiast is all about. 

      My ’07 Mazda6i with manual shift is a close second to the RX-8.  Perfect size for an enthusiast.  Too small for an appliance shopper.  The current gen 6 is a bit too large for an enthusiast.  And look at what has happened to the sales of the 6 since they increased its proportions. As others have said, own the niche.

    • 0 avatar
      Redshift

      mmm4ever: Thanks!  I’ll take that as a complement.  (Oh, and yes, the 04 Impreza is a manual shift wagon.) The RX7 is a track car, and the 8 and Protege are mine and her “toys” respectively.
       
      lastwgn:  I hate to bring out the cliche, but the Rotary really is the “soul” of this car and allows it to be what it is.  It saddens me that so many people don’t get it, but, it also makes me appreciate it from a cool-kid insider perspective.  Swapping to a different engine would lose a lot of what makes the car so special.
      Also, don’t know where you are located, but, if it’s anywhere in the Eastern half of North America, you and your RX-8 need to be at the Deals Gap Rotary Rally in two weeks.
      http://www.dealsgaproraryrally.com

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Something else I dont get is all the whining about the RX8 HP and MPG.  Sure the HP is down compared to some cars, but so is the weight.  The performance is slightly slower for acceleration, but dont they understand its a different type of car?? The RX8 competes more with the S2000 than the Mustang GT or 350Z.

      And gas mileage isnt great, I agree, but the DSI turbo would be just as bad.  I considered an RX8 instead of my GTI.  In the end, I needed something with more room, we already had one sports car and getting a second wasnt going to work.  But another thing that made me pause was the MPG, I was afraid of getting in the low teens around town.  My GTI is rated much higher, but in reality, I barely break 20 in town, and get mid 20s on hwy trips.  Do you guys do that much worse?  And do people really think they are going to get 29mpg out of a Mustang??  My friends with 350Zs dont get any better than my GTI.  Seems like the RX8 is right in the same range.

      • 0 avatar
        HalfMast

        Ahh… I knew there would be a thread out there who understands the RX-8 and Wankel…

        I’ve only had mine for 2 years, but fell in love with it after my first drive through the Tail of the Dragon.  You don’t drive this car like a Camero, you have to know where to put the revs.  But once you figure it out, you can make that car do anything.

        MPG is a valid complaint, but I don’t understand everyone’s assertion that the engine is a hassle.  I’ve never had a problem with it, and adding a quart of oil every couple thousand miles is not any hassle to anyone who considers themselves any type of enthusiast.

        How about a future line-up that includes an RX-7 2-seater and an RX-9 with a little more room than the 8?  I love the 8, but they are really trying to be everything to everyone with one model, and I think they’d be better off with 2 models.

      • 0 avatar
        lastwgn

        To top it all off – and this is something very few people understand other than those that own an RX-8 – it has genuine sports car dynamics but is practicial for carrying people.  Unless you live with the RX-8, you assume that the rear seat is a typical, cramped, sports car affair.  It is anything but.  It is not a limo, but, I use my 8 as a daily driver.  That means I have to pick up the daughter and a teammate for AAU basketball practice at least twice a week.  The freestyle doors make entry into the rear seat a breeze, and I never hear a single complaint.  In fact, it is just the opposite, about how cool the car is compared to every other boring sedan/SUV/van.  Try to use a Mustang/Camaro/350Z/etc., etc., as a daily car pool vehicle.  Oh, there might be a back seat, but getting back there is a pain, for both the kid and the parent.  I know, I was there for years with my older daughters when I used a ’96 T-Bird as a daily driver.  Two door coupes are useless as practical people movers.  With the RX-8 I am able to drive a bone fide sports car every day, so on those days when the drive home might go the long route along a few Minnesota lakes, I can enjoy the heck out of the drive, meanwhile, I have plenty of room to pick up the kids at a moments notice.  It is an engineering marvel. 

  • avatar
    Terry

    ’88 323 3 Door, ’89 MPV, ’92 MPV, 93 Probe GT, ’84 RX-7 GSL-SE, ’86 RX-7 Luxury, ’05 Tribute S(current), ’07 Mazda5(current), ’99 Miata(current)–and at least 15 others in my family.
    I’ve been a Mazda Master Tech/Shop Foreman for 29+ years—-and I LIKE THE CARS.
    Inexpensive to maintain, easy to repair, and I find parts prices less than most others. I can’t speak for all dealers, but my dealership is genuinely interested in customer loyalty, and my department’s creed–along with Mazda’s, is FIX IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.
    I enjoy the ergonomics, the control placement, the handling of Mazdas compared to the Nissans, Toyots, etc I’ve also owned over the years.
    To those that arent fond of the “Smiley Face” of the Mazda3, I suggest you drive one at speed on a twisty 2-lane country road at speed. YOU’LL have the smiley face.

     
     

  • avatar
    RRocket

    Mazda’s styling is questionable at best.  That stupid smiley-face visage is enough to turn me off from even considering them….

    And thinking they are an “enthusiast” manufacturer with only one RWD car (Miata) is a bit of a joke too….

  • avatar
    Brian P

    My daily driver is a VW Jetta Mk5 TDI.
     
    Not long ago, it was in the shop for a week thanks to getting hit in a parking lot. The rental was a 2010 Mazda 3 base model, which up to that point, I would have considered the hatch version as a substitute for a VW Golf.
     
    Verdict: Nope. Compared to the Golf:
    - Seats are uncomfortable. The lower seat cushion is too flat and can’t be adjusted.
    - Dated styling. The 3 tries to look funky, but ends up just looking dated. It needs a lot more than making the “smile” go away.
    - Unremarkable fuel consumption. Yes, I know that Mazda has a handle on this, in the form of the new SkyActiv engine and transmission, so perhaps this issue will shortly be fixed. Give us the Sky-D diesel paired to a manual transmission and I’ll take another look.
    - The big surprise, given Mazda’s enthusiast-oriented advertising, was the overassisted power steering. No, it’s not as bad as a Corolla’s steering, but it is no match for that of a VW Golf.
    Overall, I found it to be competent but unremarkable, and that’s not enough to make me a buyer.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    Former RX-7 owner here.  I really liked the car, but parts and service were expensive.

    I really like the MX-5, but would rather hold on to my 40 year old MGB.

    I like the 3, but would be more likely to get a Focus or MINI.

    I like the 6, but would be more likely to get a Legacy, or if the “Toyotafication” of Subaru continues, a Fusion Sport.

    I admire the 5 for being a true “mini” van, but do not need a people mover at this point.

    I’m sure their CUVs are nice enough, but I don’t like CUVs – if I wanted something along these lines I would be more likely to get a “real” SUV, possibly a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

    So I like Mazda’s line up, but in most categories there is something else that works just a little bit better for me.  The only things that really stand out are the MX-5 and the RX-8 – but these are low volume niche products, and hardly enough to carry the company.

    I’m a bit worried about Mazda’s ability to develop competitive products now that Ford has kicked them to the curb.  The costs of developing new platforms are huge, and the current crisis in Japan can’t be helping matters.

    I hope Mazda survives, they have some interesting products and it would be a pity to see them slip beneath the waves.  They will likely have to partner with a larger automaker to survive, hopefully if this happens they are allowed to maintain their unique character.

  • avatar

    I want to want a Mazdaspeed3, but I just don’t. Maybe it’s the disco seats or the gimmicky grille, but compared to what the Focus ST promises to be, I just can’t make my loins lunge for the Mazda. 

    The RX8 is a good car that gets terrible fuel economy and I can’t figure out why.

    The 6 is probably the best looking car in the segment, but… I can’t believe I’m saying this… I’d rather have a Kia Optima.

    I still convince all of my friends who are in the market for a good, used medium sized car to get a 3. So…

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    I’ll take an RX8 with a V8, hell anything other than the wankel would be an improvement.

  • avatar
    Boff

    I’ve always loved Mazdas. The IMSA GTU RX-7′s were unforgettable, and my uncle had a FC Turbo II that I idolized. When I grew up I had a Mazda3 for 1 year and then an RX-8 for the last 4 1/2 and counting. I love the brand and am always dismayed and disheartened by their sales numbers. And seriously, no other car seems to bring out the ill-informed haters like the RX-8 does (maybe the 3-series…maybe).

    Just about all of Mazda’s issues have been touched on…funny styling, offbeat offerings, lousy dealers and dealer service, rust, road noise, mediocre acceleration and fuel economy, etc. But all makes have their weak points (many shared with Mazda), and Mazda’s horrible sales volume just casts these flaws into higher relief. The bottom line is that Mazda is a boutique brand in a market not kind to boutique brands.

  • avatar
    MBella

    I almost bit on a new 3, but then I got a job close to home and I couldn’t justify spending new car money to drive a few miles a day. I drive an old sentra, because any older Mazda offering has a timing belt.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    My 2000 protege has been good to me, and  after 11 years is due for a replacement, but Mazda has left my town (Athens, GA), and I do not want to have to drive an hour to get warranty work done.  They closed the one in Stone Mountain as well. 

  • avatar

    How can Mazda get me as an enthusiast? Having enthusiast cars: like wagons with stick, V6s with stick etc. That’s how. #imissthelastgenmazda6thatwasactuallydifferentandinteresting

  • avatar
    Syke

    Have already owned a Mazda3 (until the wife totaled it).  Was in the market for a first gen Miata until the Porsche 924S distracted me.  Next year, I’m looking for a small car.  Mazda2 is definitely in the running for at least a test drive.

  • avatar
    MrIncognito

    I’ve always liked Mazdas, but they’ve always come up short in some critical area that prevented me from buying one. Most recently, I almost bought a 3 as a daily driver, but the back seat was judged too small by my wife and the whole plan was nixed. I might have fought harder, but the gas mileage was about the same on the GTI. Hopefully the new engines will make the 3 more competitive, but it was poor timing in my case.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    The Mazda lineup is nice and I’d buy a 3rd generation Miata if I was in the market for a 2-seat sports car (okay, I was, but I ended up with a sport sedan). I’ve had the chance to spend some seat time in a 2003 Mazda6 with a 4cyl/auto – a combination that would honestly suck in a Camry of similar vintage – and the Mazda6 was genuinely lively and fun to drive, despite its modest power. It handled well and the automatic transmission didn’t aggravate me with awful shift patterns.
     
    Mazda’s advantage seems to be that they can make a normal car that by all rights should be utterly boring to drive pretty fun. Might as well flog that angle and get owners who are too practical to own something German but aren’t ready to give up entirely on any kind of driving fun and get a Camry or a Sonata.
     
     

  • avatar
    A D H

    It is my feeling that Mazda has started to go soft and lose the enthusiast appeal. Owned the Protege5 and ’06 3 GT. Loved both cars, very reliable, and great resale. Interior fit and finish was above par. Well featured for the price. Would love to have purchased the current generation 6 but they dumbed it down. No wagon in the 6 was the deal breaker and we purchased a Saab 9-3 wagon instead. I am pleased they still offer a manual transmission in many of their cars, though often not in the best trim package.
    My wishes for Mazda:
    1. Bring back the 6 wagon. (Just replaced an ’06 Saab 9-3 with a new 9-3 wagon as we fear the ending of an era – Wagons, not Saabs)
    2. Create a Speed6 for current Gen.
    3. Styling – go back to the basics.
    4. Improve gas mileage numbers – they seem to be lower than peers with similar sized engines.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    This is an easy one to answer. Most Americans want a sports car look. They don’t want a sports car ride.

    The same is true for most auto enthusiasts.

  • avatar
    baconator

    Oooh! Well, let’s hope the Mazda product planning people are listening. I’ve had, and loved, two Miatas and now have a BMW 3-series sedan as a daily driver. I wouldn’t buy any of Mazda’s current lineup because:

    1) The styling is overwrought and horrible. I’ve had several friends cross shop the MX-3 and the Mini Cooper, and all went for the Mini, largely because it looks timeless, and hence more expensive than it is. Even the Miata doesn’t have the classic surface detailing it used to have. There are cars that everyone agrees are pretty. Imitate them and stop trying to make cars that look like Gundam robots.

    2) The interiors are cheap-feeling and ugly. The 1st-gen Miata interior somehow didn’t feel like anything was missing, but currently even the “adult-priced” RX-8 gets put to shame by cheaper cars like the Kia Soul and Mini Cooper.

    3) The RX-8 would be the natural upgrade for someone who likes RWD dynamics and Miata-like control communications but needs room for spouses, kids, etc. I *almost* bought one. What’s got 4 doors, rear-wheel drive, and a base price under $30k new? Not much, so the RX-8 could be positioned against near-lux 135′s/G37′s/IS350′s as a low-seating-position sports sedan. It could be the poor man’s Porsche Panamera, and preferably look more like an Aston Martin Rapide. But it *really* needs more torque to feel adequately fast at around-town speed. The last-gen RX-7 felt like a barely contained street riot in every gear; the RX-8 feels like it’s struggling to keep up with that V-6 Sonata in front…and by the numbers, it is.

    </rant>

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    I like all of Mazda’s lineup (except the Miata) but I would never seriously consider buying one because their dealership network is abysmal, consisting of strip-mall storefronts and ‘oh yeah we sell Mazda’s too’ multi-brand showrooms. From what I’ve heard this isn’t just isolated to my area. If Mazda wants to take sincere look at themselves I suggest they start with their dealers.

  • avatar
    dror

    I bought the 3 hatch in 06, first for the looks, then, I went to read about it, I knew nothing about it till then, I love this car for many reasons, I don’t like it’s fuel consumption and sometimes it feels too sporty, it’s not such pleasure to drive it every day in NYC with all these potholes.
    Now I’m ready for a new car, I took a test drive on the new one, same road noise that I can’t take anymore, the looks would be OK if fuel consumption was much better.
    So, I’m looking at the new Focus, for me, it’s the same car with much better execution, open the hood and they look the same but Ford manage to get 38 mpg and almost the same HP from 2 liter while Mazda decided to go with 2.5 and no option for 2 liter on the hatch.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I agree, I think the new Focus is going to hurt the 3 sales, just like the Fiesta is going to hurt the 2 sales.

    • 0 avatar
      Redshift

      A refreshed Mazda3 with the new line of SkyActive-G engines is due this summer as 2012 models.
      I agree that the new Focus and Fiesta are hurting 3 and 2 sale,s but remember the Focus and Fiesta are brand new, while the 3 and 2 are near the end of their current life cycles.  It will be interesting to see what happens with the refreshes.

  • avatar
    ern35

    Mazda lost me after owning a 323 and issues with brakes, exhaust, auto transmission, wheel bearings, poor quality interior parts, rust, and to-to-it-off—unsatisfactory dealer-service.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    For the last 12 years, my wife and I have had a “fun” car, i.e. – a convertible of some sort. For almost 9 years we owned a 1992 Chrysler LeBaron convertible until the engine blew one beautiful day in September, 2007. The following July, we bought a 1992 Wrangler. I sold it last year in March. In May of last year we bought our 2007 Miata. We did not want a daily driver as it were, and decided on the MX5 as it was small and looked to be fun. We found the one we bought at a local small dealer who specializes in sports-oriented cars. Ours is gray – did not want the bright red, as the gray looks much classier to us. It is a sport model – “stripped”, but does have A/C. We both love it. True, it is normally no fun on the highway in rush-hour traffic, what is? but occasionally I take surface streets to work and we cruise around on the weekends and have a ball driving it. No, as a rule, I don’t “carve” the corners very often, but when I do, it feels great as it is glued to the road. MPG? 32. Never below 28.5 this last winter. I feel I am an “enthusiast”, maybe not in the aggressive-driving sense, but in pride of ownership. I love my Impala and our MX5. Our CR-V? Well, that’s my wife’s car – ’nuff said. Counterpoint comments taking me to task are welcome!

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Me too.. I drive an Impala and consider myself an “enthusiast”. The Impala has a sunroof, and a spoiler, 18″ wheels and dual exhaust. Hey, its my fantasy if I want to call it an enthusiast car so be it eh!
      I have owned Camaros, Firebirds, an SS Chevelle,and  four convertibles. I had to sell my beloved Firebird convertible to pay off the Canadian Revenue Agency. I swear your better off owing money to the mob than the C.R.A. That would explain why I don’t have another fun car in my garage,at this time.

      I would love another rag top, and the Miata “has” caught my eye. Wifey isn’t in  love with real small cars. My buddy has a 1970 MGB for sale and my wife likes it.   Go figure.

      However if I never buy another fun car,and drive my Impala forever,I will still be an “enthusiast”  In my mind, anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        @mikey:   Isn’t it interesting that you don’t see modified 2006+ Impalas modified like 2000 – 2005 models? I wonder why. At least I haven’t in the Cincinnati area.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @Zackman, no one is going to take you to task, although I admit you made me LOL with your fun car being a 92 Lebaron  :)

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        @mnm4ever:   It was a convertible! It did look pretty classy, though. Bright red, black top, white seats & panel inserts, charcoal interior. After all, I never said anything about driving dynamics – there weren’t any unless you consider cowl-shake and the infamous “Chrysler front axle wobble”!

  • avatar
    Feds

    In chronological order:
     
    ’89 323 hatch
    ’85 RX-7
    ’03 Protege5
    ’84 B2000
     
    I crashed the 323 (after 5 reliable years of unspeakable late teens/early 20′s abuse), and I sold the B2000 when the 2nd child arrived.  I still have the RX-7 as my toy, and at 220,000kms (and annual rust proofing), the protege remains in daily service.
    As much as I want to love their current lineup, there’s nothing I’d go buy in a showroom.  Love the RX-8, but the depreciation is so steep, I’ll get one second hand.  Want to love the Mazda5, but I think I need it to be a half size bigger.  Mazda6 would have replaced the Protege, had they not killed the wagon.  I’d go with a 2 for commuting if the fiesta were not better and cheaper.  If I want an SUV, I’m not going to buy it from Mazda.
    What I would really love in my current situation is an updated gen-1 MPV, or even a gen-II with a turbo 4 and a 6-speed that cruises decently on the highway.  Or a Mazda2 that gets stupidly good mpg while being as chuckable and as nicely trimmed my 323 was.

  • avatar

    We have an ’09 Mazda5 and an ’03 Mazda6 (v6 manual). The ’03 is the most fun four door mid-size I’ve ever driven. I’ll probably only have it for another year, max, due to repair bills. Thank Odin that my brother-in-law is a former Ford mechanic who will do the big stuff for me (and it happens). I emailed the guy who sold me the ’09 (great car buyer experience at that dealership, btw) and asked if Mazda had plans to bring the manual back to the Mazda6 v6. He said that there wasn’t. I’d go for the MazdaSpeed3 next if it had anything but FWD. The RX-8 is cool, but, you know… weight of a 4, power of a 6, drinks like an 8. That’s unacceptable these days. I told him that the current front runner for my $ was the v6 Mustang (weight of a 6, power of an 8, drinks like a 4). He’s a “driver” (we’ve talked a couple of times outside the shop), and admitted that they don’t have anything coming up that can compete. He too was disappointed that Mazda had left folks like himself and me without an option.

  • avatar
    Steve C.

    For me, it’s mostly been between Nissan and Mazda.  When I was looking for a car in 2007, I test drove both the 350Z and the RX-8.  When it came to decision time, I picked the Z.  Why?  Well, the RX-8 had three strikes against it.  It had only 230 HP vs 305 in the Z.  However, it’s mileage was worse than the Z.  Finally, the styling of the bubble canopy is rather awkward.  

    I really like Mazdas, but I keep feeling like only one or two things keep me back from buying one.  If I were buying new, I would totally get a Mazda 2 for my winter car.  As it is, I might wind up with a used Protege or Mazda 3.

    Suggestions:
    1. Split the RX-8 into 2 models.  Same platform.  First is a 2-seater FD RX-7 successor w/ 300+HP.  Second is a 3 series like sedan.
    2. Either put in the DISI 2.3 turbo in the RX-8 replacements, or get a rotary with some real balls.  I don’t care if it has to be a 20b.  If I’m stuck with high-teens/low-twenties mileage, make me feel like it’s worth it.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    I’ve had an NB Miata as my daily driver and oftentimes only car for about 3 years now.  It’s a great little car, and I plan to keep it for a long time.
     
    However, I’m considering buying a new car to use as a daily driver and using the Miata as a track/fun/roadtrip car.  It would be something agile and relatively practical in the $30K ballpark.
     
    As a car guy who already has one Mazda that he really enjoys, I should be strongly considering one of their “enthusiast” cars, right?  Problem is, I’m not.  Why?  Not enough RWD options.
     
    I have zero interest in FWD or AWD cars, so all Mazda has to sell me is a porky Miata and an RX8.
     
    I really like the RX8 except for that silly engine.  Sure, it’s a wonderfully dynamic car, but a V8 Mustang has nearly double the horsepower, weighs more, and still gets better fuel economy.  No sale.  Put a turbo 4 in it and you’ll have my attention.
     
    So, to get my enthusiast dollars they need to provide more RWD options equipped with engines that have a power to fuel consumption relationship consistent with the decade we’re living in.

  • avatar
    NN

    I love Mazda’s offerings but recently chose a 2010 Malibu over a Mazda 6 for my wife’s daily driver.  Why?
    1) Previous Experience: the 2002 Mazda Millenia I was getting rid of had just been through a transmission rebuild, misfiring issues, a never-ending CEL light that I spent hundreds on to diagnose with no solution found, a premature snapped timing belt, all in one year.  Also, the AC was always weak on that car, there was rust spots around the wheel wells and the seat travel didn’t go back far enough (I’m 6’3″); issues I hear still plague Mazda’s.  Bottom line: Mazda reliability down the road seems more akin to Volkswagen than Toyota.
    2) It is my wife’s daily driver, not mine.  She is not an enthusiast and does not drive a stick, which is what I would prefer and what would lead me to choose a 6.  A manual 6 is most certainly more interesting and fun than an automatic Malibu.  But an automatic transmission Malibu is every bit as nice driving as an automatic 6, Accord, Sonata, or anything else, from what I could tell (and all better than a CVT, which is a driving experience I just flat out don’t like, thus no Altima, Kizashi or Legacy for us).  In other words, the enthusiast bent was largely taken away with the choice of an automatic.
    3) At the end of the day, after all discounts and rebates that GM whores out I could buy a loaded Malibu LTZ for the price of a relatively base 6 (or Accord, or midlevel Sonata–which ended up being the other main cars I considered).  With a 100k powertrain warranty, don’t forget.  In the end, when it comes to parting with your hard-earned money, practicality carries a big stick.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    Want to sell me a Mazda?
    lose the retard grin on the front of vehicles
    I like the brand, but can’t abide the styling.
    A turbocharged stickshift AWD wagon that gets 30 mpg and does 0-60 in sub 7 seconds wouldn’t hurt, either

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    I still own the 1996 Miata that I bought new.  I love that car.  BUT…  It only has about 82,000 miles on it after my 15 years of ownership.  Overall I average 25,000 miles a year between my two cars.  You can do the math and draw some conclusions…  The car that gets the lion’s share of my miles is my 98 LS400.  

    The Miata is a blast to drive but tiring if driven for a long time or under less than ideal conditions, for reasons cited here by others: excessive noise, high RPM when cruising, small lowbrow cabin, not great seats, not very refined.  None of which you notice on a nice road on a nice day with the top down.   So when the weather is good and I know I won’t be running a lot of side errands that increase my in-car time to over an hour,  and won’t be doing much freeway or stop-n-go driving, the Miata comes out of the garage.  Otherwise it’s an LS400 day.  Most days are LS400 days. 

    My wife was driving a 1st Gen RX-7 when I met her.  Her commute was about 5 miles each way.  When we moved out to the sticks with 30 mile one-way commutes, the RX-7 had to go. It was also a blast to drive and she sometimes misses it but the poor gas mileage, poor reliability, and stiff ride that beats you up on dirt roads became overwhelming negatives.  She sold it with 75K miles on it.  

    I once drove a rental Mazda 5 on a familiy trip.  Couldn’t stand the garish dash (at least four different colors of lights). 

    I guess the conclusion of my family’s  experience is that Mazdas are great cars, as long as they aren’t your only or primary cars.   Love them for what they are, which unfortunately for many people makes ownership of them impractical.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Mazda’s lack of mainstream cars is what keeps their sales figures down. That and the goofy 3 frontend-a major misstep on Mazda’s part. The majority of the market is not enthusiast oriented in most of the segments Mazda has offerings. If Mazda’s intention is to be an enthusiast brand their sales figures will always be far behind the mainstream brands. If they want to substantially increase their sales they need a 6 that is mainstream and get rid of the goofy 3 front end. They can still have other enthusiast models but they can’t have models like the 6 as one of them.
     
    Case in point, last fall we testdrove the 6 and even though it was a better lease deal (more equipment, lower payment) ended up with a Malibu because the ride was much softer than the 6. The softer ride is what 90%+ of buyers in that segment want. My girlfriend drives the Malibu but even as a passenger in both cars I was much more comfortable in the Malibu. Sure, the 6 handles better but that wasn’t a feature that appealed to her, the ride quality did. Just as most buyers in this segment, why give up the ride quality for handling that you’re not going to use anyway?

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      If your after a softer ride, you are completely missing the point of an enthusiast car.

      • 0 avatar
        mtymsi

        My point is in relation to Mazda’s sales figures for the 6 and what 90%+ of that market segment wants is not an enthusiast car. Mazda needs to make the 6 a mainstream competitor if they want to substantially increase their market share in the 6′s segment. They could even follow Ford with the Fusion and the Sport Fusion.
         
        The enthusiast segment across the board represents only about 10% of the market so if every model a manufacturer sells is aimed at the enthusiast segment their market share will be very low.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    @Japanese Buick – We have the CX-7 and Miata, (and a Camry and Fit Sport) my wife splits her driving between the two Mazdas, and given the choice (i.e. no snow), would primarily drive the Miata.  We both drive a considerable amount of miles each year, which means a lot of long distance slogs.  And I totally agree with you, I won’t drive either Mazda long distance.  Your points are spot on:  The Miata is too small and high strung, the CX-7 rides like an apple cart and sounds the part as well.  But to my wife, who is very small, the Miata might as well be a Town Car.  And I find many women (and men) don’t grasp NVH.  For my wife, the color of the two cars rock, the top goes down on one of them, and the leather in the other is two tone and heated.
     
    For me, living here  where the roads are straight as an arrow for miles on end, where turns as rare as bald eagles, I choose my Camry.  Boring?  Maybe.  But it’s smooth, quiet, efficient, and reliable.
     
    Still, I can deal with all of Mazda’s perceived shortcomings, and would consider another Mazda, if only they’d reel the styling back in.  Their latest design language is a major misstep.

  • avatar
    cwatwell

    I tested the 4 cylinder 6 and Fusion (I wanted a manual tranny) when I was in the market in 2007 for a 4 door to take me to and from work without breaking me at the pump. I ended up getting an Si because of the better engine, sound system (it’s a two-hour round trip commute) and seats. I drove the 3 too, but it was too small and boy racer for a 50 year old. I may reconsider the 3 if gas gets any higher. In three years when I’m looking for another car I’ll check out the 6 and Fusion again, if they still have sticks for their fours.

    I also tested the 5 when my wife and I were looking at a family hauler becasue we both preferred the stick. We ended up with buying a Kia Rondo because of its compact size and the quality and versatility of the interior. The 5′s interior was a sea of hard, black sharp angled plastic, and the engine seemed to be working hard all the time. When it comes time to look again, I’ll swing by the 5 to see if the insides have been upgraded, and if the engine has been given more juice. The new Ford CMax is promising, but no stick on the higher-end 4 cylinder version kills it for me.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Are you saying that the Mazda3 was too small and “boyracer”, so you got an Si instead?  Do you mean Honda Civic Si?  Isnt that the definition of boyracer??

      I must be mistaken… the Si gets better mileage than even a base 3, you couldnt possibly consider trading an Si for a 3 for mileage.

  • avatar
    chris8017

    I own a 2011 Mazda6 i Sport with a 6spd MT (base model) in Comet Grey Metallic and I absolutely love this car.  I bought this after my 2001 Saturn SL with MT fell apart. I’ve only had it for a little over a month and 2,000 miles, but I enjoy driving this car and I know I will be keeping it for a long time.  I am someone who loves to drive and this car appealed to me more than the Camry, Accord, Altima etc.  I do believe that Mazda doesn’t sell many vehicles because enthusiasts are the minority but they hold true to their passion in making driver’s cars. The handling is excellent. I walked out with a price of $19k

    Mazdas are the poor man’s BMW.

    I get 33mpg with my 90% highway driving at 70mph…3mpg more than the EPA estimate….and this motor loves to have the guts revved out of it. The 2.5L MZR motor is perfectly matched for the size of this car while maintaining respectable fuel economy. The current gen Mazda6 should be at the top of the charts in the mid-size sedan segment IMHO. Many people have failed to realize how great this vehicle is compared to the competition and it’s a shame. Mazda really engineered a fantastic vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Sounds like a great deal.  Everyone thinks they need the V6 with manual, which, sure, I wish they still offered it, but generally I would prefer a 4cyl myself anyway.

      The problem I always had with that theory is Mazda usually required you buy the uplevel models to get the better options.  If you want all the toys, you have to get the V6, and then cant get the stick.  Is that still the case?

  • avatar
    John R

    Interesting. I didn’t notice a Mazdaspeed 3 in that ad.

  • avatar
    Wheely

    name a top-20 global automaker that sells one brand of cars globally, marketed specifically to enthusiasts

    Porsche?

    Tested a 2011 MX5 Miata recently.  There must have been some fork in the road where Mazda decided the image of building a tossable roadster was good enough.  It’s no longer a modern, lightweight and basic sports car.  Crappy wannabe-nice interior instead of basic quality, questionable ergonomics, and unless paying for a suspension upgrade, it’s downright soft.  Doesn’t stream “enthusiast” to me.

    Never drove an RX8, the concept and engineering sounds great, but I can’t get over the boy racer styling… turn it down already.

    Driven the 3 and the 6 as rentals, and while they might have been a tad more fun than their competitors, it’s not like a night and day difference by any stretch of the imagination.

    Actually considered the 5 as a family hauler. On paper, it makes sense, although it’s a bit underpowered for its weight. Allegedly, they make a manual shift version, but good luck finding one. And reselling it, probably, but that’s not Mazda’s fault. What doesn’t make sense is that the mileage isn’t that much better than a typical size van (where do people still call them “mini vans”) while giving up a lot of space.

    Seems to me that if Mazda truly wants to be the enthusiast’s brand, they could do a lot better.

  • avatar
    sexyhammer

    Well, I drive a Mazda. It’s a seriously stripped-down and obnoxious 1990 Miata that pulls daily duty, and I love the drive to and from work every day. Even with the close ratio transmission and 4.30 rear gears making highway cruising at anything over 60mph a noisy and expensive compromise over getting run off the road by everyone else. I wouldn’t trade it for any other Mazda, including any other Miata.
    Mazda lost it’s reputation with me as a “driver’s car” when they introduced their new bland FWD lineup. The 3, even in Mazdaspeed trim, is only a marginal improvement in overall driving dynamics compared to its competition. The 6 was mildly interesting when it got a semi-AWD and turbo upgrade, but that was short-lived and the drivetrain REALLY belonged in its little brother to be effective. The crossovers don’t even rate. Then to make it worse, everything got bigger and bulgier.
    The RX8 was a good idea, somewhat poorly executed. I know of a lot of idiots that bought them without knowing how to drive and maintain them and now they’re junk. It wasn’t properly marketed, the styling was wrong for its intended consumer base, and the fact that it cost more in any trim than a very nice used RX7 (the last true rotary driver’s car Mazda made) sealed its fate.
    Mazda said they are looking to reinvent the Miata as a sub-2000lb street fighter, I will believe it when I see it. Until then they’re just another Mitsubishi waiting to happen.

  • avatar
    brett_murphy

    What’s Mazda’s problem?
    They’ve done nothing to really open people’s eyes and take notice in a positive way since they introduced the Miata back in ’91. Their biggest draws (handling and driving fun) are highly subjective and won’t even be a factor if they don’t have people visiting the showrooms and driving the cars.
    Given that most research done on cars these days happens before people ever leave their house, they’ve really got a problem. Their reliability, crash test rating and fuel economy are all average. Their current styling is polarizing. People looking at their tables, stars and online pictures are going to discount the cars before they ever set foot outside.
     

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    Here’s another problem with targeting enthusiasts, especially with moderately-priced cars: moreso than any other group of customers enthusiasts have the mindset and skill set to confidently buy used.
     
    An enthusiast will probably know how to evaluate a used car, know how to diagnose and fix most failures, and may well be inclined to perform mods that would void a new car warranty.
     
    You can get a lot more car for your buck buying late-model used.  Even if I wanted an newer Miata or RX8, I probably wouldn’t buy it from Mazda.  Sure, I can afford a brand-new one; but there’s very little value-add for me in doing that vs a clean used vehicle.

    Sure there are guys who consider themselves to be “car guys” who buy new because they like to have a flashy ride that gets attention, but I don’t think that’s the sort of enthusiast Mazda is going after with this ad. It sounds like they’re trying to appeal to the guys who will spend all weekend at a Lemons race being rained on, swapping engines in the mud, and flogging an old Pulsar simply because there’s nothing else in the world they’d rather do. Guys like that are out there, and are willing to spend money on vehicles, but we’re generally not afraid of a car without a warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      They aren’t really trying to appeal to car guys.  They are trying to appeal to people who want to be seen as a car guy or who think by buying a car guys car, makes them a car guy.  How many trail rated Jeeps actually see a gravel road much less a trail.  Their owners just want you to think that they use them for that purpose.  They are buying the image of an outdoorsman.

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    Yuck.  How cliched.  I love that Mazda is making sportier cars, but this ad is weak sauce.  Did they just approve the rip from the agency pitch?  Lazy thinking from Mazda marketing there

  • avatar
    Dragophire

    I have said it here before. i LOVE my CX9.  It is the best CUV made right now.  I have test drove pretty much everything made at the time and it won me out.  I have had 0 problems the three years I have had it.  (ok one door lock issue that was resolved).  I know you have some writers here on this site that dont like it but I say then what do you like. Mazda just needs more advertising overall for all of its products.

  • avatar
    romwild

    My love for mazda began with the RX-7 and so as a teenager my first dream car was the funky mx-3. It didn’t happen. My first car was then a 92 Honda Accord. That affair ended after being T-boned by a cop. I got another chance. That’s when I got a 626. I drove that to the ground. Then my 04 Mazda6 came along with a prerequisite that it needed to have the sports grille and not the milk mustache. Then last year the wife and I were in the market for a second car. It came down to the wire between the GTI and the 3, in the end we went for the 3 and my wife loves it. She doesn’t know why, but she tells me there’s just something better about it than her family’s corolla and civic, “I feel more comfortable driving it.” 

    Mazda needs to seriously get more efficient though and that’s why I’m excited for the lean Mazda2 and the new SKY engines coming up. Not to mention the breathtaking Shinari concept! New Mazda6? 4door coupe Mazda7? or bring back the 929? Whatever it is, I want it!

  • avatar
    Jayflm

    We’ve had several Mazdas over the past few years. 1) ’02 Protege5 with MT. Loved everything but the road noise and the fact that it ate the inside edge of tires. Traded it for 2) ’06 Mazda5, also with MT. Just paid it off, hope to keep driving it for a while. It has the same road noise issue, but when the VVT kicks in at 3k rpm it really scoots. Still has original brake pads at 94k miles, but had to replace all struts/shocks at 80k. 3) Bought daughter used ’03 Protege LX. The taller profile tires make it a different beast than the P5. Still going strong, but I’ve replaced each of the inner door handles at least once!
    One thing that would keep me from buying another Mazda is the fact that they put summer tires on everything I’ve looked at. I don’t like putting new tires on a car with less than 30k miles on it, and that has been the case with both our new Mazdas.

  • avatar
    smokingclutch

    I grew up with Mazdas.  My parents had a 1979 GLC (323 RWD to the rest of the world), a B2000 and B2200 pickups, two 1988 626s, and they currently have a 2003 6s V6.
     
    I started with the B2200 handed down to me, followed by some time in the 626s, and then I had two 1988 RX-7s.  I also had an RX-8 for close to 5 years.
     
    A big part of the appeal of Mazdas in my family is that they were usually the sporting option in their segment, especially as Hondas got softer.  But it was always a matter of feel, not numbers.  Mazdas usually weren’t all that fast, at least in a straight line.  But they were an option for economical, practical cars with a sporty side.
     
    I really came to see what I think is a big part of Mazda’s problem when my wife was car shopping during Cash-for-Clunkers.  She has not learned to drive stick, and once you put the slushbox in Mazdas, it sucks out the joie de vivre.  As fewer and fewer people consider mainstream cars with manual transmissions, I think it puts them in a tough spot.
     
    The Miata and the rotary cars are special cases.  When the Miata was introduced, there really were no small two-seat roadsters on the market.  In the late 90s, a lot of two-seat roadsters were introduced but most were much more expensive.  The ones that weren’t (the Z3 and the MR2 Spyder, and to some extent the S2000) either moved upmarket or died.  The Solstice/Sky didn’t make it through the GM bankruptcy, so again, if you want a reasonably priced two-seater, your choices are basically Miata or CR-Z – and the CR-Z isn’t a convertible, nor is it really sporty in any conventional sense.
     
    The rotary cars, I would argue, represent the soul of Mazda, and it’s clear that those who hold the pursestrings at Mazda agree.  Mazda has both the Sky-G & -D piston engines and the 16X rotary in development.  For obvious reasons they have focused resources on the Sky engines but now that they are close to reaching market, more engineers have been shifted to the rotary.  Changes to the basic dimensions of the engine should yield better economy despite increased displacement (to 1.6L) due to a more efficiently shaped combustion chamber.  I believe Mazda will continue development on the rotary as long as it can be made to pass emissions.
     
    To me, the rotary is to Mazda what the 911 is to Porsche.  Neither can be justified in any rational sense; the Cayman is a better platform for performance than the 911, and piston engines have become much smoother and more flexible than when the Wankel was new.  However, both represent the soul of the brand.  So far, at least, the management of both companies have decided that, despite their inherent drawbacks, that they are still worth pursuing.
     
    Here are a few things I would suggest Mazda do:
     
    - Return to a two-seat hatchback coupe layout for their rotary sports car, and revive the RX-7 name, which is both well-known and euphonious.  Concentrate on light weight, but not to the extent of, say, Lotus.  If they can stay under 2800 lbs, a new 16X rotary with 280-300 hp will be more than sufficient.  It still will not quite keep up with a 370Z in a straight line, but the RX cars have never been the fastest in their segment (aside from the early 70s RX cars which were MUCH more powerful than their four cylinder competition).
    - Leverage the existing RX-8 platform by stretching it to a true four-door sedan akin to the E36 generation BMW 3-series.  The 3-series has gotten quite large and expensive as it now competes in a “luxury” segment, and any smaller BMWs are likely in the future to be FWD.  A true midpriced, compact RWD sedan that could sell for $25k-$35k would sell if it were marketed properly.  Speaking of…
     
    This commercial has been the first time I have seen an RX-8 in a commercial since 2005.  I think a lot of folks are unaware it’s even still on sale.  Make sure to market the cars consistently.


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