By on May 17, 2017

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF, Image: Mazda

Yesterday, Steph Willems asked in his Question of the Day what BMW should do with Mini and its lineup of identical-but-different vehicles almost nobody is buying. Since it seems like you’re quite eager to give brand strategy advice, let’s do it again today.

I want you to tell me what you’d do with Mazda, because its current PR line isn’t sitting well with me.

The PR I’m referring to is from the article Tim Cain wrote on Monday, where the CEO of Mazda North America outlined consumer loyalty, market share and brand advancement desires for the company.

If you haven’t read it already, click the link above so you’re informed for the rest of our discussion and we can engage in the sort of thought-provoking, worldly dialogue I desire every single day. (Oh, and Tim gets clicks.)

Masahiro Moro’s points can be broken down into the following:

  • Mazda owner loyalty is low (39 percent vs. industry average 53 percent), and needs to increase
  • 2-percent market share is the goal, up from a current 1.7 percent
  • The 2-percent share will be obtained though quality customers, not incentives and discounts
  • Higher prices for existing products (via upscale trim levels)
  • Mazda Premium strategy, image establishment
  • Mazda does not compete in over 40 percent of the market segments in America

Now, it’s fine to say you want more of the pie, and having high-quality pie — the kind grandma makes — is the best kind of pie. But making those kinds of pies requires love, care, and many ingredients. You can’t make the pie taste better by putting it on a more expensive plate; substance is required.

To get the bullets above pointed in directions Mazda desires, I think it still needs to make a few changes, and they’re substantive.

  • Address the NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) issues present in all Mazda models across the range
  • Improve dealer coverage throughout the nation, because you can’t buy from a dealer that doesn’t exist
  • A premium image requires a V6 option, even if you borrow it from another company, like Toyota
  • Offer diesel options across the range to support diesel enthusiasts
  • Address that 40-percent segment deficiency with new models, and a modular architecture (like VW)
  • Dump the “Driving Matters” preachy tagline, because the 375 people who care about that are already buying Mazda anyway

Certainly, I’m missing some points, and no doubt you’ll tell me I’m wrong on some of them. But Mazda needs to get the ball rolling here.

So tell me, what would you do with Mazda at your command?

[Image: Mazda]

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160 Comments on “QOTD: What to Do With Mazda?...”


  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    I bought two mazdas new. The F&I guys ruined it both times. Full court press trying to tack on 8k in warranties on a 20k car. And they wouldn’t accept no, repeatedly.I was angry for days.

    After sending yakuza hit squads after all the F&I guys, mazdaspeed everything and give us an rx-9.

  • avatar
    LambourneNL

    The only Mazda I’ve owned was an FC RX7, which was really quite good (with the usual caveats). Friend had an FD RX7, which was even better. Mazda replaced it with the RX8, which wasn’t very good and not really the same kind of car.

    Never owned a Miata/MX5 but that line seems to be working out well for them and unlike the RX7, they haven’t diluted the formula.

    So maybe, brand consistency?

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Expand the partnership with FCA. Use Mazda expertise to develop compact cars. Put a Pentastar into the 6 and make a Chrysler version.

    • 0 avatar
      Polishdon

      Actually that makes sense. Make Mazda produce small/mid size cars and CUV’s, Heck they can replace the Fiat 500 line with a Mazda platform.

      Chrysler/Dodge/Alfa produce full size cars/trucks/full suv’s

      Maserati and Ferrari produce lux/sport cars.

      Platforms shared across divisions.

    • 0 avatar
      sutherland555

      That’s a really good idea. Mazda’s strong where FCA is weak and vice versa.

    • 0 avatar
      Dapip33

      100% agree that FCA could use Mazda’s know-how and quality, but is FCA competent enough to integrate a very independent Japanese manufacturer and help them get to scale? Manufacturing in the US would certainly help with currency fluctuation issues that carve into Mazda profits.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Mazda is basically the smallest Japanese firm on its own. Time to get together with another – perhaps Honda- and share some resources to create economies of scale and more satisfying vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      sutherland555

      They would have zero synergy with each other and way too much product & segment overlap but you’re definitely onto something. They do need a larger permanent business partner. I don’t think the little side deals they have with Toyota and FCA are going to cut it.

    • 0 avatar
      Eyeflyistheeye

      While I understand where you are coming from, shacking up Mazda and Honda together will lead to nothing but perpetual internal squabbling between two of the most stubborn and arrogant Japanese automakers. Both have the exact same weaknesses, they are brilliant companies with storied racing heritage that will chase a failed idea into the ground taking $$$$ with it and the story between Mazda and Honda is who’s on first?

      Toyota would be a better partnership if they didn’t have their own crap to deal with and Subaru on their hands.

      The only candidates left are GM and FCA. GM needs FWD expertise bad after lopping off Opel, and FCA needs everything short of SUVs and trucks. Another possibility is Geely. Just look what they’ve done with Volvo, and Volvo and Mazda worked together with Ford to create the Ford C platform.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    I loved my 2007 Mazdaspeed3. The car was perfect, the driver was not.

    It’s a shame the gave up on the speed3, but I understand the business case to work on the bread and butter models before providing rotary powered cars only a handful of enthusiasts will own.

    That plan sounds fine, but do they have the capital to implement it? Increasing a dealer network and improving quality takes money. They need a higher R&D budget and its not clear they have that kind of cash.

    Pick and choose which components are necessary and then go to Subaru or Toyota for the rest.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      “It’s a shame the gave up on the speed3, but I understand the business case to work on the bread and butter models before providing rotary powered cars only a handful of enthusiasts will own.”

      LMAO so the MazdaSpeed3 was rotary powered, huh? Pretty sure that’s what you just said.

      Is it fun to make things up as you go along?

  • avatar
    e30gator

    Mazda is looking in the wrong direction. They’re barely a blip on the radar of most premium shoppers and the millionaire next door types are going to keep buying Toyota products.

    I doubt the economy is going to continue riding high for long and gas prices are likely going to rise and more people are going to be looking for cheaper rides, not more expensive ones.

    Mazda needs to be the “enthusiast’s” Nissan and market cheaper cars to people with compromised credit or those who’d prefer one over a KIA at the same price point. In short, offer a good quality (if basic) vehicle with loooong warranties and lower prices. Also, keep offering a manual and advertise the fact…maybe they’ll develop a Subaru-like cult following.

    • 0 avatar

      No, hard disagree on this.

      Premium is exactly what they need. Here’s why:

      1) Premium Mazda is already a success. It’s been well documented that the take rate on CX-5 Touring GTs (their most loaded model) is significantly higher than the industry average, so their buyers more frequently want the loaded variant. Why not make it better?

      2) It’s where the money is. Companyies don’t make money or build an image on base-model/cheap cars, they make money on premium features that they can charge lots for but don’t actually cost that much. That’s why there are more small luxury brands than there are small mainstream brands. The margins are much tighter the lower you go. Mazda ABSOLUTELY needs to sell more models that are in the higher trims, because that’s the only way it can survive as a small independent car company that can’t compete with infinitesimal margins that Toyota, Kia, Hyundai, and Nissan have. They simply won’t survive at the low-end. They also can’t offer the same deals that the bigger companies can, meaning they have to have customers that strongly desire their brand. Cheap does not create the desire to buy/keep buying, it creates a desire to buy something else that will probably be cheaper.

      3) Image is everything. No one desires a car that is perceived as cheap from a low-end brand. Think of the judgment we lay, as car nerds, on people who go for Mitsubishis or Nissans. Sure they’re fine, but they aren’t nearly as good as their competitors. Cars like the CX-5 and CX-9 aren’t going to steal sales from new premium buys, no, but they can very much steal sales from premium used buyers and from their competitors (especially at the top end). Think about how many people have talked about the CX-9 Signature’s interior? Will every Volvo XC90 buyer switch to a CX-9 Signature? No, but you’ll find a healthy number that ditch their MDXs, XC90s, and RXs for a car that seems almost as nice (or nicer) and costs less.

      4) You reference Subaru. Subaru is in a similar situation, and what did they do? Go premium and focus on high-margin cars (Outback, Crosstrek, Forester) based on low-margin vehicles (Impreza, Legacy). They have succeeded because they aren’t perceived as cheap, and because anyone from any socioeconomic class is willing to buy them. How does that tie into your plan for cheapness?

      I’m sorry, but your strategy would sink Mazda in 5 years.

      • 0 avatar
        e30gator

        And here’s why I stand by my original post:

        It’s already a very crowded market segment in an industry that is seeing declining sales. What does a “premium” Mazda bring to the table that an Avalon or Genesis doesn’t? Will Mazda be the “sporty” premium offering? How’s that strategy working out for BMW or Infiniti’s sales figures lately? Also, a $50k Mazda looks much less appealing against a landscape filled with $25-40k CPO BMWs and Acuras.

        With all the cheap used cars that are flooding the market, Mazda needs to win over people who are expecting a bargain (and will get one) on a slightly used car. And regardless how many champagne glasses they stack on their hoods to advertise their new premiumness, Mazda is a long way away from commanding Volvo or Acura money, much less Lexus money.

        Actually what Mazda needs is a small truck at an affordable price point in the way the B Series used to be. Offer many variations and engine choices and it will be a profitable vehicle. Maybe a Wrangler/Jeep pickup competitor? What better company to pursue this than Mazda? Once showroom traffic picks up, showcase the quality and affordability of their other offerings.

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          Mazda is closer than you think. Alex Dykes once pointed out how the Mazda3 was cross-shopped favorably with the Acura ILX.

          The new Miata is often compared with a used Boxster. Those who want the badge, or know how to DIY, will buy the Porsche. The others will go for the Miata.

          While Mazda offers the Premium signature line, it hasn’t forgotten the bargain hunters. Check out the Toyota IA, which is really a Mazda 2.

          And um… wasn’t stacking glasses of champagne a Lexus thing?

          • 0 avatar
            e30gator

            Yes, the glasses were a reference to the Lexus commercial.

          • 0 avatar
            cimarron typeR

            +1 , Acura is for the taking, for that matter so is Infiniti. I’d prefer a 6 GT to an ILX /tsx or whatever.
            We have adequate dealer supply in KC , in fact the closest dealer to my doorstep is a Mazda dealer that shuttered during the recession and is doing fairly well based on the number of Mazdas I see on my commute w/ their tag.
            They do need a halo car though- see 2+2 RX 8 with turbo 4 power price competitive to Camaro SS,MGT.Maybe spinoff a 3 series competitor on the same rear drive chassis a later date (like Hyundai/Kia is doing)

  • avatar
    kkop

    Waaayyy back, my wife then girlfriend owned an MX-6. Unpretentious, but fun car. Currently, it’s more of the reverse.

    My last interaction with a Mazda product was a rental 6. The only rental car I ever returned after a few miles. Those seats were the most uncomfortable I have ever had the misfortune of sitting in.

    Also, it would be nice if they made cars that those of us taller than 5’5″ could use…

    • 0 avatar
      srh

      Huh. My brother and I are both 6’3″. I’ve had a Mazda6 and MS3, and fit fine in both. We both fit in his current generation Mazda3 as well. Admittedly (and depressingly) the Miata is too small for me, but then so are many other subcompact sport cars.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I have to agree with you, I’m now on my third Mazda, and the seats have all been terrible. For obvious reasons, I could deal with this in the two Miatas. I didn’t realize when I bought my 2009 3 however, how much I would come to hate the seats. They’re just too small and short. I think they’re just designed primarily for smaller Asian frames, and Mazda doesn’t make the comprises necessary to accommodate Americans who are taller and wider. Compared to my friend’s Civic, I think that car’s seats are wider and more supportive, because it was designed primarily with Americans and Canadians in mind.

      I think the seats in the current 3 and 6 are bad for the same reason.

      • 0 avatar
        quaquaqua

        2015 Mazda6 owner. 6 feet tall, 280 lbs. Seats are far more comfortable than the current Camry. Comfort is subjective, but zero reviews have ever complained about the 6’s seats.

  • avatar
    Syke

    1. Dealer numbers. Like you said, if you don’t have a dealer in a town, you don’t sell cars in that town. Add to that some severe restrictions on what the F&I guys and other shenanigans can be pulled. Getting a reputation where you have a dealer body that doesn’t overtly rape can only help business.

    2. The noise, vibration issue. I have some memories of our ’04 Mazda3 being a bit on the noisy side, although I’m one of those rare guys who puts handling and drivability way above NVH.

    Otherwise, as far as I’m concerned, the cars are fine. Don’t really a need for a V-6. Then again, I don’t feel the need to overcompensate.

    • 0 avatar
      zoomzoomfan

      Agreed. The 4-cylinder in the 6 is a good motor and the 6 is as fast or faster than its rivals with their base engines. 0-60 in 7 seconds flat and a top speed of 130 MPH isn’t shabby for a family sedan.

      An optional engine on the Grand Touring trim would be nice, since the Camry and Accord technically offer that. But, about 1% of buyers get a V6 Camry or Accord these days. That’s probably why Mazda has yet to put a bigger optional engine in the 6.

      I just wish they’d sell the 6 Wagon here. I’d have totally bought one if they did. Maybe the upcoming Regal will sell well and inspire them.

      • 0 avatar
        notwhoithink

        If the Accord sells 350k units a year, that’s 35,000 V6 models out there. That’s not peanuts. I see them all the time. And I’m just assuming that your 1% figure is accurate. Maybe it is or maybe it isn’t.

        “The 4-cylinder in the 6 is a good motor and the 6 is as fast or faster than its rivals with their base engines. ”

        It’s not all about the base. Mazda absolutely loses sales at the high end due to the lack of the V6/turbo 4-cylinder option. Mazda says that they want to play more in the higher end of the segment. If they want to sell into that 1% that buys V6 vehicles, then they need to offer vehicles with a V6.

        • 0 avatar
          zoomzoomfan

          I agree with it not being all about the base. If they want to move upmarket, they’ll have to offer an upmarket engine. Plain and simple. Enter the 2.5 Turbo from the CX-9. It’s beyond easy. Even as a Mazda fan, I can see they’re being dumb in not offering that.

          • 0 avatar
            rx8

            No FCA won’t happen..good god why would a fantastic independent car maker want to associate with FCA, the worse brand in Australia for reliability, service, resale. Will never happen MMC hates the FIAT partnership.

          • 0 avatar
            rx8

            You guys in the US finally get Mazda Diesels 2.2 that the rest of World has had for over 4 years, next few months. This will answer power calls.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      “Don’t really a need for a V-6.”

      I assure you, they need a V6 or at least a turbo 4-cylinder, especially if they’re interested in competing in the upscale market segments. Nobody cares at the $22k price point, but they are absolutely losing sales at the $26k+ price point due to it. If you spec out a Touring or Grand Touring trim of just about anything, and then compare it to the competition at the same price the competition usually has a V6 or Turbo 4-cylinder.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        +1 On Dealers. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of the dealer experience. Mazda could be cranking out Rolls-Royce beaters but without good dealers no one would be buying them.

        A lot of dealers have made progress to move away from the typical sleazy reputation, but it still seems to be fairly prevalent at Mazda. Maybe the sleazyness has migrated from the sales floor to the F&I office, but for a lot of people (myself included) a greasetrap is going to derail a potential purchase.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      “Then again, I don’t feel the need to overcompensate.”

      Oh, isn’t that slick? Because everyone who wants something extra when they press the go pedal is OBVIOUSLY compensating for their tiny penis or their degree from a college you wouldn’t send your incarcerated business partner’s retarded gay niece to.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    I think Mazda’s “Driving Matters” ads are way better than Honda’s “Point of View” and “Walking on a Dream” commercials with that irritating music. I stopped watching AMC on my iPad due to those commercials.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Tim Cain probably has better figures than I but from what I researched Mazda sold 1,202,489 units world-wide in 2016. They managed to move around 289,000 in the US which is less than 25% of their total output. Mazda is the 15th largest auto manufacturer in the world but in the US sells less than half the volume of the the 22nd largest manufacturer, Subaru. Their strength is elsewhere in the world. Many of the issues cited here in TTAC (NVH, corrosion, lack of power et al) are likely not much of an issue in other markets where the remaining 75% of Mazda production is sold. There is not much economic sense to make expenditures fixing up or expanding their product line for 25% of its market. The rumblings about going up-market and raising prices on what are basically the same vehicles may be an attempt to squeeze a little more water out of the US market stone to make that 25% pay for itself. Perhaps pride is keeping them here as nobody wants to be a market failure like Suzuki or Daihatsu.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I went to Thailand a few years ago on business, and I think Mazdas were probably the second most common vehicles in Bangkok next to Toyotas. The problem was, they were mostly Mazda2’s, which can’t be a big money maker for the company.

    • 0 avatar
      vwgolf420

      I just got back from Germany and Austria and anecdotally i’d say Mazda is probably the second or third most popular Japanese make after Toyota and maybe about even with Nissan, though in Austria I’d give the edge to Mazda. I saw several Mazda 6 taxis in Vienna too.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    They are addressing the NVH, thankfully. The CX-5 and new CX-9 have been praised in road tests for their quietness.

    I’d say put the CX-9’s turbo 2.5 in the 6, for starters, so the B&B will stop hollering about it not being able to get out of its own way. Even though that won’t translate to extra sales.

    Rework the CX-3 to have more usable interior room and packaging, a la the Honda HR-V. The CX-3 is just too cramped inside to be appealing.

    Partner with FCA and make small cars for them. A restyled Mazda3 (with more NVH advances, of course) as a new Dart-esque thing and perhaps even a restyled 6 as a 200 replacement.

    Or expand upon the partnership they already have with Toyota (the Yaris iA is a Mazda2 sedan with an ugly nose) and add the Prius’ hybrid technology to the CX-9 and CX-5 – maybe even the CX-3. I know it’ll work, because the Japanese-market Mazda3 carries (or used to carry) a hybrid trim level that uses Prius tech.

    Finally, ramp up advertising. There’s just not a lot of Mazda brand recognition these days.

    For what it’s worth, I love Mazda. I have a 2016 6 and my wife has a 2013 CX-5 and we both really enjoy them. The CX-5 has 44k on it and has been (still is) a great vehicle that has served us well. Our buying experiences with each were fine, average I’d say, with the experience with the 6 being slightly better since we were able to negotiate it down to $100.00 over invoice. I don’t think my 6 is slow (not once I have I wanted for more power during my commute – it’s a family sedan after all) and I don’t especially think it is loud. But, I know other people think these things so it’ll help if Mazda addresses them.

    • 0 avatar
      Wacko

      Are You the one posting the water in your rear lights on oppo?

      • 0 avatar
        zoomzoomfan

        Yeah. Had the issue once on one lens (the passenger reverse light) but it dried up and hasn’t come back even with multiple rainstorms since then and even going through a car wash. Very puzzling.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I like your plan and I’d add for them to stretch the wheelbase of the 3 by 2 inches. The back seat space is what loses buyers to other compacts, well that and the cash on the hood that the competition has.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Maybe go after a piece of the lucrative pick-up pie and bring over a BT50 (or rebadge someone else’s truck?) Bring in some Toyota-ness and utility and expand their buyer base into the larger mainstream? Seems to be working for Subaru. Another key point is the lacking dealer experience. A) there’s simply not enough of them sometimes which is a chicken or the egg kind of an issue (not enough sales to justify more dealers, but people won’t buy the cars if there is not a convenient dealer for sales and after-sale service. B) The vibe from the dealerships is somewhat less than nice/premium. The local Mazda dealer plays a lot in the FCA/Kia/Nissan subprime space as far as I can tell, although I will say there are more than a few CX5s and a new CX9 on the nicest street in my yuppie bungalow neighborhood. Back when my family bought our ’98 MPV Allsport, the closest dealer was in Binghamton NY 45 minutes away and they screwed up our alignment as I recall (left the steering cocked after correcting a pull). They later closed up shop some 5-7 years later, making the nearest Mazda dealer even farther away.

  • avatar
    Sgt Beavis

    I want to like Mazda, I really do. I even steered my wife toward looking at the new and previous generations of the CX5. She decided she wanted a Subaru Outback instead. I agree with much that’s been said here but I’d add this.

    1. Bring back MazdaSpeed variants of the 3 and the Miata.
    2. Mazda NEEDS a Halo Car (RX7 with a MazdaSpeed variant) to attract attention. They aren’t on anyone’s radar right now.

    • 0 avatar
      srh

      I know the Miata is supposedly perfectly balanced blah blah. I bought a BRZ on the same premise, that it didn’t matter that it was underpowered, but it did matter.

      So yes. A MS Miata with enough headroom (I don’t really want to go the foamectomy route) and I’d be a buyer.

  • avatar
    arach

    IN 2016 for the 2017 models, Mazda improved its noise isolation drastically, including acoustic glass.

    I actually think Mazda’s “Driving Matters” is good, but they don’t walk the walk.

    No Manual in upper trims. No higher output motors. Cars are very underpowered.

    Despite having some of the most enthusiast loved cars in the market, they don’t seem to embrace it at all. They should be feeding off of it.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      On the 2017 6, the acoustic glass is only used on the Grand Touring windshield. However, all 6 trims did receive thicker windshield glass and thicker front door glass.

      I would consider my 6 to be underpowered on a racetrack. Driving around town in normal traffic, it has more than enough juice.

      Annoyed I could not get stick in a Grand Touring, or at least option the nicer front end with LED headlights on my manual Touring.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      “IN 2016 for the 2017 models, Mazda improved its noise isolation drastically, including acoustic glass.”

      It may be better than previous generations, but it’s still not up to par for the class. At least not when you’re looking at a $30k+ Grand Touring trim.

      But you do hit the nail on the head with them not walking the walk on “driving matters”. If you want to appeal to enthusiasts then you need more power and a manual transmission. If you want to appeal to mainstream suburban buyers, then you go the route they have gone.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    As zoomzoom pointed out, they’re already tackling the NVH issue. I actually think they’re on the right track in terms of market focus: they’re not trying to compete with BMW, but buyers already tend toward their Grand Touring trim levels and not the base, lease-spec versions like they do at the Toyota dealer next door, and giving these buyers more options can only help. Personally, I would happily pay a couple grand more for a next-gen CX-5 when our current one bites it five years from now if they continue to improve it.

    And as much as I’d love a diesel, all three of the people who want one will end up finding something else instead. No need to pour money into certifying something just for the heck of it.

    In my view, as long as Mazda aren’t losing money, they should keep doing what they’re doing. Hey, it took BMW a solid two decades before they were able to cash in on their “Ultimate Driving Machine” reputation and sully it with a bunch of overpriced techmobiles. Give it time.

  • avatar
    RKYTOP

    “SkyActiv” – ditch this. I’m a gear head and I still don’t know what this is supposed to tell me. “EcoBoost” – I get it. “Efficient Dynamics” – I get it. The use of this meaningless term SkyActiv only serves to put another barrier between an already squishy brand and a skeptical buying public.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      I’m with you on the SkyActiv. Nissan Pure Drive and Honda Earth Dreams aren’t much better. There is nothing pure about an ICE, and what the hell is an Earth Dream?

      EcoBoost is interesting because it refers specifically to turbocharging. It wasn’t long ago that turbocharging was generally only used on high-performance fuel sucking cars. I think EcoBoost is catchy but it’s deceptive. If you want “Boost” you can say goodbye to “Eco”, and vice versa. Perhaps it’s suppose to speak to the dual nature of the turbo engine, but people interpret it as a “boost to fuel economy”

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Meh, if the cars performed up to their “zoom-zoom” hype, then Skyactiv would mean something.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    What to do about Mazda?

    1. V6 not necessary, most of America doesn’t care. Make 2.5 turbo available in a wider range of products.

    2. NVH needs to be at least midpack for the segment.

    3. Go after markets where there is very little foreign car presence. As an example – In Gallup there is Nissan and Toyota, all other foreign dealers are 130 to 200 miles away.

    Otherwise they are on my shortlist of dealers to visit next time around.

  • avatar
    mankyman

    I was astonished to see that NVH is still an issue for them. I have an ’02 Protege5 and it’s a very rough rider. I would never take it on anything more than a 10 mile drive.

    It’s riddled with rust too. Rust everywhere. The wheel arches are the worst, but the entire body is just covered with it. I expect the strut towers to collapse one day soon, leaving me to die in a horrible fireball.

    I replaced the rear calipers and the Autozone guy didn’t recognize the cores when I returned them. He said they were the rustiest calipers he had ever seen. I hope Mazda has cured their rust problem too.

    • 0 avatar
      Wacko

      My first new car was a silver 2003 protege5 even got the dealer to rust proof it.
      Rust started showing up in less than a year, rust even under the rust proofing.

      Rear wiper stopped working, cause some Mazda engineer thought it was a good idea to use plastic gears. When I would put it in park, sometimes it would move about 10 feet. Many electronic gremlins, would eat tires and headlights.

      It was a fun car to drive, but lacked quality.
      I won’t buy a Mazda again because of that car and the dealer.

  • avatar
    Caboose

    “A premium image requires a V6 option…”

    This is a true but depressing comment on the state of the automotive landscape.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      People want options and power in their premium vehicles. Eeeeeverybody, premium and no, has six cylinders available except Mazda.

      • 0 avatar
        Caboose

        I don’t disagree. I’m depressed because nothing about a V6 has ever said “premium” to me. I’m just old enough that I came of driving age when a V6 was the little engine option, V8s were standard, and people who were doing alright had Big V8s. Rich folks had 12-cyl cars. ONly kids and the extra-poor drove four-cylinders.

        The only 6-cyl. engines that are premium in my mind are the flat ones (Honda Goldwing is the only one that comes to mind) and *maybe* the unnaturally aspirated inlines (but those only exist on custom-built old stuff, like when someone turbos an old 4.0 in a CJ-7 or a Chevy 250).

        I get the why of the downsizing movement, but I still think it’s sad.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    It has been suggested that Mazda is not putting the 2.5T in the 6 because they are either preparing to release a new 6 and/or they are getting ready to introduce a new 2.5 NA engine with more power to lessen the gap between the current 2.5 NA (185hp/185tq) and the new 2.5T (250hp/310tq)

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      I’ve never heard an explanation about why they wouldn’t use the 2.5T in the 6 (or the CX-5, for that matter), other than there is supposedly a new generation engine coming in the next year or two and they’re hoping to muddle through without having to go through all of the testing and approvals of adding an engine variant to the 6 and CX-5.

      That being said, they have already admitted that their premium cars need more power. The existence of the 2.5T on their premium CX-9 is proof of that.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    The assumption that many posters on this thread is that Mazda has a choice between appealing to a small enthusiast market or to a larger mainstream market.

    That’s not the case. Mazda has a choice between appealing to a small enthusiast market or to no market at all. Look at their sales between 1997 and 2002, when they lost their turbos and rotaries. They tanked completely.

    What they need to do is get rid of the reasons they don’t get repeat business.

    1) Rust. They don’t just need to fix the problem, they need to put their necks out on it. A 15 year anticorrosion warranty isn’t just attention-getting – it’s necessary to get a customer back whose ’04 Mazda3 was junked for not having enough good metal left to patch to.

    2) Power. The 2.5T needs to be available across the board. I’ve measured it – it would physically fit in a 3. Even the Miata is improved by going beyond 190 horsepower.

    3) Dealers. They need to award many more franchises to many smaller operators – if you can’t buy a Mazda for 100 miles, you won’t. They also need to put a penalty clause in the dealer contract for failing to accept warranty work.

    • 0 avatar
      Dapip33

      I can tell that I’m very fortunate that Mazda of Norwood in Massachusetts is my dealer. Great overall experience, consistently good service and very little pressure from the sales staff. Perhaps that’s because I’ve got 3 other Mazda dealers all within an hours drive from Norwood.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I think the idea of going after the “premium” brands is folly. As stated here, they have neither the dealer network nor the products to compete there. Rather, they need to embrace their niche status. That’s essentially what Subaru did… robust affordable all-wheel-drive. They didn’t make coupe versions of the Legacy to take on every variant of the Accord, as an example.

    Mazda needs to go after niches that aren’t filled by others. The CX3 is a me-too product that isn’t competitive in interior space. Of course it’s going to struggle against the Honda and Toyota options.

    As everyone else gets rid of manual transmissions, keep them. They make a beautiful wagon version of the Mazda6 overseas. Bring it over. How hard could it be to bring it to the US and Canada? I digress, but look at the resale values on other wagons on the market with no current replacement. There is demand out there that no one is filling. No VW Passat. No Accord Wagon. No Legacy Wagon without all of the fake off-road pretensions.

    The Miata still has essentially no competition except for its Mazda-built Fiat cousin.

    The only Mazda dealer (which shared a showroom with a Ford dealership) near me closed its doors last Fall leaving the nearest dealer 2.5 hours away. It’s a shame, as I’d like another. Alas, the only dealer on my side of the state is both far and owned by Betsy DeVos’s family, so I won’t be giving them my business.

  • avatar
    notwhoithink

    “Address the NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) issues present in all Mazda models across the range”

    Yup. That’s one of the two major reasons I bought a Fusion instead of a Mazda6.

    “A premium image requires a V6 option, even if you borrow it from another company, like Toyota”

    Yup. That’s the other reason that I bought a Fusion instead of a Mazda6. And while I didn’t get the V6 with the Fusion, I did get a turbo 4-cylinder that has similar power ratings to a small V6.

    “Dump the “Driving Matters” preachy tagline, because the 375 people who care about that are already buying Mazda anyway”

    Well, yes and no. When you take ‘Driving Matters’ and add it to ‘Upscale’ that puts you squarely in BMW territory, I think. Now if they fixed the NVH and V6 issues they could probably pull it off, at least more along the lines of what Lexus does with it’s more enthusiast-oriented cars.

    “Offer diesel options across the range to support diesel enthusiasts”

    I honestly don’t think that this is an issue at all. VW had the lock on diesel enthusiasts for years, and it was still a very small piece of the pie. Granted, it’s a piece that might move them to that 2% mark, but all of that would be contingent on a) getting a diesel vehicle approved in the US, something that they have yet to achieve, and b) getting more diesel vehicles approved in the US, something that they haven’t even attempted.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      “When you take ‘Driving Matters’ and add it to ‘Upscale’ that puts you squarely in BMW territory, I think.”

      Isn’t that what Cadillac has done with its sedans? And no one is buying them. No one wants an ultimate-driving-machine style BMW anymore. Mazda shouldn’t follow that route.

      • 0 avatar
        notwhoithink

        There were two major problems for Cadillac in this effort, however:

        1. Their market at the time was predominantly American. It probably still is.

        2. The American market looked at Cadillac as largely a brand for stodgy old retiree types. There was nothing about Cadillac’s brand that was particularly sporty or drive-focused until they decided to try to compete with the Germans.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          Yeah, both brands are trying to change their image. Cadillac tries to put in some sportiness, Mazda tries to put in some premium-ness, and neither one fits their long-held image.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “what would you do with Mazda at your command”

    Sell it to the highest bidder for the shareholders.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    I’m not the typical car guy – these days, I drive less than 10k miles, need space for a family of four, but want a FUN ride. Will put up with a good auto (i.e. has a good manual mode), but definitely don’t want to downgrade from my (upgraded) ’05 Legacy GT. And ’05 Outback 2.5i was so gutless with the 4EAT.. No way I’d consider a full-size car with less than 250 hp at this point, preferably with upgrade options (i.e. a turbo that can be flashed).

    I’ve actually thought about picking up a used ‘speed3, but then heard that they’re pretty unreliable with any amount of tuning.. Plus the whole FWD thing..

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Here’s one that no one’s bringing up: create a captive finance arm. Why? If you want upscale customers, then an outsized percentage of them will be leasing. Mazda’s lease programs are administered by Chase, and to be charitable, they’re not all that attractive.

    (I know – I shopped for a 3 last year and would have happily bought one had the deal been any good, which it wasn’t.)

    Put differently: I have long thought Mazda’s real competition isn’t Toyota or Honda. It’s Volkswagen. And Volkswagen is vulnerable right now. A strong leasing program (which VW definitely has) would go a long way towards kicking their door in.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      Interesting observation about VW. 4 time Mazda Owner here. My first Mazda purchase was basically as a VW alternative because while VW design, asthetics, and driving all appealed, reliability real or perceived did not, and I didn’t want a Honda or Toyota. Mazda design game has improved but they’re still in a weird niche. For a lot of years they were called poor man’s BMW by the press. I’m at the age now where I’d go for poor man’s Lexus. Glad they are addressing the NVH, that does wear on you over time. I like the interior direction of the CX-9, with the wood trim accents and all. I could go for that in a premium level 3, revised CX-3, or maybe a CX-5.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      “Put differently: I have long thought Mazda’s real competition isn’t Toyota or Honda. It’s Volkswagen. ”

      Good point! VW has long been the affordable German car. Mazda can be considered as an affordable German-like car.

      Subaru’s sales is a source of envy though. Equally small, they are doing better than Mazda because safety (AWD) is an easier sell than fun-to-dirve. But BMW has held its own against the master of safety — Volvo. Maybe Mazda can do the same, up to a point. BMW sells in part on snob appeal. Mazda is too friendly and approachable to sell on snob appeal, and I hope they stay that way!

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Maybe do what Mistu is doing with their 10yr/100k warranty? I am seeing more and more of those little Outlanders around here. People like to buy with confidence when making a 5-7 year commitment. That could be a start if they want to move metal. They have some of the best looking cars out there and people def shop with their eyes first. Add some meat behind it and maybe they’ll have something. Dealer access is an issue as well. I like to have the dealer nearby for warr work etc.. It is a hassle to have to drive 30-40 miles for maintenance.

  • avatar
    Coolcar2

    I have owned three Mazda’s in the past – MX-6, Tribute (alright not a true Mazda) and a Mazda5. They all had their fun attributes but one thing that Mazda needs to work on is their durability. The Mazda5 was packaged well but the NVH and multiple suspension issues as well as rust after 3 years really hampered my experience with the brand. Mazda always gets lumped in the reliable Japanese bucket with Honda and Toyota, but I think their quality is not quite there. I currently own a Kia Optima and it has been bullet-proof after 50k+ miles. I can’t say the same for the Mazda’s I previously owned. I still love the brand and would consider them for future car purchases but I am still wary of the little niggle items that don’t get resolved.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      You know, I definitely don’t lump them in with Honda and Toyota. They’re on a lower tier.

      Honda/Toyota
      Nissan/Subaru (sometimes)
      Mazda
      Mitsubishi

      • 0 avatar
        Coolcar2

        Sure I think for volume they are a Tier 2 but I think there is a perception that because a large % of their vehicles are produced in Japan that they are rock-solid like their Japanese peers. It is a perception and not reality.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          I’m thinking if I took a survey of people I know, and asked “Rank Honda, Toyota, and Mazda in order of reliability.” Mazda would come out in third every time.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I think their natural competitor is actually VW. Very similar customer base (aspirational enthusiast).

        Given that, a Mazda diesel would be a natural…the fact that it hasn’t been introduced tells me it might not be ready.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          Don’t European nations have a long history of receiving diesel Mazdas though?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Not sure, but given VW’s woes, and the similar customer base, I’d have to think a diesel would be a natural fit in the Mazda lineup. There has to be a reason that’s not happening, and I have a feeling it has something to do with the engine itself.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            I was curious, so I checked into the Mazda UK site. Yep, Skyactiv-D engines available across the range.

      • 0 avatar

        See mine would be
        Toyota
        Honda
        Nissan
        Mitsubishi
        Mazda
        Subaru

        (I may be biased on the mitsubishi thing as the one I owned and one my family owned were both very reliable examples)

  • avatar
    ttaclogin

    Longer anti-corrosion and anti-perforation warranty. I wouldn’t buy another Mazda because of how ugly my car looks with all the rust within just a few winters.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    I have a 2016 Mazda3. My wife’s biggest complaint is road noise. In particular, tires. That’s an easy fix. Other than that, it already offers a lot of luxury for a car that listed at $23,600.

  • avatar
    sutherland555

    NVH: Already done on the CX-5 and 9. As they roll out new and refreshed models in the rest of their line-up, NVH should be at acceptable levels within a few years.

    Improve dealer coverage: That’s a long term problem that they need a long term strategy for. They’re just going to have be patient and plug away at this one. In Canada, (at least in the metropolitan areas), they have a pretty strong dealer network.

    V6 option: Easy answer is drop the 2.5 turbo in the 3, 6 and CX-5. Most manufacturers are headed towards turbo 4’s as their premium engine anyways.

    Offer diesel options across the range to support diesel enthusiasts: Meh, small diesels have always struck me as a niche product. I suppose if the costs are relatively low and they can make a decent profit, go for it.

    Address that 40-percent segment deficiency with new models and a modular architecture (like VW): They’re already in the major segments. They’re too small to offer a complete line-up so I think it’s a waste of their time and money do a full line-up.

    Dump the “Driving Matters” preachy tagline: Nitpick IMHO, every manufacturer has a tagline that usually preachy or stupid. I think how their cars drive does matter to them so why not use it as a tagline.

  • avatar
    wintermutt

    my 2 cents – don’t change a thing. occupy that niche of sound engineering, fun to drive, low HP, reliable vehicles. if Mazda really feels the need to change something, make the dealerships better.

    “Sometimes the best offense was avoiding self-destruction.”

    ― Brandon Mull, Seeds of Rebellion

  • avatar
    SteveMar

    I like Mazda and want to like them even more than I do, but they aren’t delivering products that fill a unique niche right now. I think the Subaru analogy is pretty apt – they found a niche organic to their image (all wheel drive on everything at a reasonable price) and went with it. They built variants with higher margins off of more generic platforms and they offer only a few unique products (like the BRZ) which they share with other bigger makers.

    Right now, Mazda is the “sporty” alternative to mainstream Japanese brands. They aren’t considered bulletproof (for good or ill) like Toyota or Honda and they haven’t gone down market for the “value” buyer like Mitsubishi and Nissan. But there really aren’t excellent reasons to choose any of their products compared to competitors unless you like that supposed “sporty” vibe. They can’t compete long term making competent plus cars without the dealer and financing infrastructure of the bigger makers. I think going upmarket will be very hard, since that isn’t how people view them now and competing across the entire spectrum of vehicles will drain their R&D budget.

    I think they need to either mate with a larger company and become the sportier division or recognize that they will always be a small player and do a few models right. Get ride of models like the CX-3 that are low margin and offer no increase in brand value. Make sporty cars that no one else makes (like the MX-5 and an RX update). Decide whether they will be a car company or a CUV company and focus on one or the other, but not both. And figure out how you can make people feel like they are getting something special for the price of what they could buy at a Toyota or Honda dealership – a longer warranty, more content, special engines, etc. And please get off the diesel train – diesels are DOA in the mainstream US market for the foreseeable future. No one outside of 6 dudes on TTAC will buy them over an electric or hybrid.

  • avatar
    s_a_p

    Mazda is short on power. Plain and simple. My brother has a Mazda 6 5 speed and I think it’s pretty damn awesome until you step on the gas. They have a nice semi premium feel with an econobox engine. Granted it isn’t “slow” but it doesn’t align with the rest of the car. The 6 should be sold with a 250-300hp option to be competitive. The cx9 is another example of being 90% complete but slightly underpowered. To get competitive Mazda needs to borrow an engine they can use today. Not something ready in 5 years.

  • avatar
    Chris FOM

    Engage in an all-out blitz on retention. More than 3 in 5 current Mazda owners do NOT choose a Mazda for their next car. Industry standard is fewer than half abandon ship. Find out what’s driving them away and fix it ASAP, because this is a big issue on a number of levels. The biggest and most obvious is it means 61% of your customers (and these are people who actively sought out and chose a niche vehicle) don’t like what they bought and/or what you’re offering to get another. That’s bad in and of itself, but it also hurts the brand further because they talk about whatever bad experience it is the drove them away. Low retention also makes sales dependent on conquest customers, which are more difficult and more expensive sales to obtain, and less reliable repeat customers once you get them (especially if you have a retention issue to begin with). If you have premium aspirations (and that’s not a bad move at all) then you need a premium image. Poor customer retention eats away at that image.

    Benefits? First, it achieves their marketshare goal all by itself. Going from 1.7% to 2% marketshare in a roughly flat sales market is a bump of less than 18%. Just getting their retention rate to average levels is a nearly 36% increase. Boom, you’re done. Second, not only that, you’ve done it by making your cars more appealing to existing customers. If your current customers like your product and keep coming back that’s a reliable, sustainable way to gain sales and keep them going forward. You’re not having to constantly find new conquests to combat churn. Not only that, a repeat customer is cheap. You don’t need to market to them nearly as much. When they’re ready for a new car if they like their current Mazda they’ll go to the closest dealer of their own accord, and once they’re in the dealer that’s well over half the battle (especially with a strong product focused on customer retention).

    So yeah, they’ve got to get their retention numbers to at least industry average levels, and that needs to be their absolute top priority. Focus on retention and I bet a huge amount of the rest will take care of itself.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    ” Address the NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) issues present in all Mazda models across the range ” and MazdaSpeed. But Mazda is deaf, these things have been yelled at them for many years.

  • avatar
    lastwgn

    For all those wanting Mazda to just drop the 2.5T into several other models, keep in mind that engine was very specifically developed for the specific driving style of the typical 3 row crossover driver. As such, it has abundant low-end torque, but from what I have read in the test reports, it clearly runs out of breath at the higher RPM ranges. As such, although it looks great on paper for the 6 and the CX-5, I expect in practice it would be a very disappointing application. While I agree that a turbo 4 as an engine upgrade offering would seem logical for those vehicles, it needs to be the right one.

    I have a feeling that problems Mazda apparently had with the 2.3T in the CX-7 has caused a bit of concern about going all in on turbos again. Hopefully the 2.5T will be a success in terms of reliability.

    Overall, I personally applaud Mazda for its approach to achieving an acceptable combination fuel efficiency and power without the use of turbocharging. I very much appreciate the lack of the excess complexity, i.e. the extra stuff that can go wrong. When we purchased a new CX-3 for my wife last year, the absence of turbo complexity, and the use of a solid and well thought out 6 speed transmission was a big deal. A complex turbo 4 coupled to a CVT? No thanks! Not for me!!

  • avatar
    igve2shtz

    I have owned 3 Mazdas (1993 Protege, 2006 Mazdaspeed6 (current) and 1996 Mazda B4000 (current), and would like to continue owning more. Mazda is like that cute girl you knew in High School. Every guy had a crush on her, but no one asked her out. For Mazda to remain competitive:

    (1) Have to address the reliability issues. (Short term) Increase the warranty to show you stand behind you product for the long-haul. (Long term) Improve reliability and rust issues.
    (2) Everything I read says Mazda is doing great things with NVH (read 2017 CX-5). Keep it up.
    (3) INCREASE ADVERTISING! It still amazes me how many people don’t look at Mazda because they forget it exists after the initial ad campaign
    (4) Please, please, please add engine choices. I would have sold my Mazdaspeed6 for a 2016 Mazda6 had it had a bigger motor.
    (5) Mazda is going to continue to suffer without a truck. Bring back a mid-size truck.
    (6) Do whatever Subaru did. Talk about a small niche player that made it to the big time. Just please, no CVTs.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Mazda needs a V6, even if they have to get it from someone else (Ford, Toyota, even FCA). My thought is that a lot of people who buy an Accord or Camry are probably brought into the dealer by the halo effect of the V6. They go in thinking that’s the one they want. Then they realize the 4-cylinder is good enough, or the monthly payments on the V6 are too high. But either way, the V6 got them in the door and sold them a 4-cylinder. Mazda just doesn’t have that. Those who think they want more power just write them off immediately.

  • avatar
    John R

    The problem with the “Driving Matters” line is that means two different things to two different kinds of people.

    To the choir (us) it means the way the car goes around a corner. To normies (everyone else) it means how well the car “gets out of it’s own way” – which, BTW, the majority of Mazdas cannot do; they just feels like they do. I think the majority of you who say Mazda doesn’t need high powered engine options and then point to Camcord sales stats fail to remember Mazda’s competitors have tried this before (GM, Hyundai/Kia) and they invariably went right back to offering a V6 or a turbo-4 option.

    With this new ambition to bring the Mazda brand upmarket I feel like the majority of us may be looking at this backwards. As ajla has mentioned, Mazda, ostensibly, wants to be in the “Acura/Buick” tier. Guess what those brands offer as options? High output engines. Whatever it takes; even if it means licensing/buying motors from Toyota, Honda, FCA, etcetera.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I think Mazda is heading in the right direction, and has the right plan to continue to exist. Shoot for 2% market share, build a loyal base, build quality products true to the brand, and be profitable. Other car companies have operated on this model.

    Here is some reality – at least in the Puget Sound region. A family of 4 making less than $72,000 a year is now “low income” in King and Snohomish County, Washington. A single person making $52,000 a year, $1000 a week, $25 an hour, is “low income” in the same. A single person now can quality for Section 8 housing making $48,000 a year.

    Forget affording a new car.

    Mazda moving in a direction of becoming more like near luxury brands Acura, Infiniti, or Buick makes sense. The more affluent (that 2% market share) are their buyers, and they want the safety, convenience, and quality materials.

    The aspirational buyer will pick one up off-lease or after 3 to 4 years of ownership. The person struggling to stay above the new poverty line becomes the 3rd and 4th owner.

    I realize it is hard to wrap ones brain around the idea of Mazda being a near luxury brand, but we’re seeing this strategy across the board from other mainstream makers.

    There are bigger economic issues that our leaders are basically ignoring as we grow an even bigger underclass in this country.

    If the average person can’t buy a new Mazda, then Mazda needs to build vehicles that appeal to the above average, which is a smaller part of the market.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Build a car/cuv that people want, offer a V6, and drop the sporty pretense. Then watch the customers walk in.

    I’m not sure about this “lets raise the entry level” idea, never once have I seen a Mazda that felt above a Ford Taurus in terms of luxury.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    I agree with your bullets except on Diesel, don’t waste investment dollars on that.

    They need CUV between the CX9 and CX5 and they need a lot more power. Turbo and NA 6 will be required.

    At some point if they are successful in gaining higher profits the need a coupe above the MX5 and NOT a rotary and I owned one for 2 years.

  • avatar
    George B

    Mazda should study some specific models from its former owner Ford. Start with the Ford Escape with 2.0L turbo and make a competitive Mazda product for this hot market segment capable of the same acceleration, NVH, and even better handling. Similarly, add a turbo 4 option for the Mazda6 so it can at least keep up with a 2.0L turbo Fusion. Might as well offer this turbo 4 in the Mazda3 too.

    In future cars, Mazda should put some effort into making their cars feel larger. I drove the Mazda6 and Honda Accord back-to-back and the Accord feels much larger from the inside looking out. The Accord’s lower beltline and taller glass make it feel much larger and it doesn’t need 18 inch or larger wheels to look ok. The Mazda6 seats also seemed a little small.

  • avatar
    pale ghost

    My wife was totally hooked on the mazda6 based on looks. I warned her about the NVH but after a too short test drive she was still sold. We bought a 15 6 GT with tech package new. Sales guy was OK but the F&I guy tried to screw me over on a lease. Quoted a real low money factor and high residual but the payment was way way over what it should have been. Paid cash for it. Sure enough she now drives ‘my’ outback because the Subaru ‘rides better’. and I drive’her’ 6. On long drives the NVH and rough ride were beyond my tolerance level. I was at the point of dumping it and taking a bath after 2 years. I switched the OEM Dunlop SP5000s for cheap Kuhmo s. Huge difference – noise level went down 3-4dB and ride is much better. Still no Lexus but it handles well and is fun to drive. No complaints about acceleration and gas mileage is fantastic.

    31k miles and 0 problems. If there are no issues with carbon buildup on the DI engine or rust and they have reduced the NVH significantly I’ll consider another one.

  • avatar
    brett_murphy

    I’ve owned multiple Mazdas, and I’m probably going to buy another one new at some point.

    Here is what I think.

    Model names kind of suck. I think that US buyers are more accustomed to having model names like Accord, Fusion and Camry instead of numbers. Yeah, Mercedes and BMW get away with it, but they’ve always used them. Mazda isn’t BMW or Mercedes, and had word type model names before trying to cram alphabet soup on us. We all know how that worked for the NC MX-5, too.

    Going upmarket is fine, but offering affordable base models is still a good game plan. As other commenters have noted, having a turbo or v-6 engine in the higher trims isn’t a bad idea, but it would hurt their fleet MPGs. I’m not sure of exactly how that works.

    Their designs have been polarizing. I like the way their cars look, but it really does seem to be a love/hate dynamic. Even Subaru, long known for being quirky, is softening their design style to blend in with traffic a bit more. Mazda may want to follow suit. People might settle for a kind of boring looking car, but they simply won’t buy one they think is ugly.

    Mazda needs to hammer on both its sporting image and use things like Consumer Reports feedback to its advantage a bit more. That kind of stuff matters to the buying public.

    They have a huge opportunity with the introduction of their diesel engines to capture some market share from VW. They’re up against the whole German Engineering myth (don’t get me started on that), but nothing is stopping them from tooting their own horn with a cross country drive on x gallons of diesel with (hopefully) zero breakdowns or something like that.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Between the gaping Lexus-maws on recent Camrys and the chrome mustache/wheel design on new Accords, I don’t think the public is afraid of buying an ugly car. Oh, and everything Nissan makes. Ugly doesn’t seem to keep new Altimas off the road.

  • avatar
    ColorMeCrazy

    As someone who owned a Laguna Blue Miata for 17 years & 300k miles, I have some affinity for Mazda. I am looking for a new car this summer, but none of the Mazdas are on my list because I miss having a wagon around. Personally, I would be all over the 6 wagon if they would bring it to the states. However, there is one vehicle that would be huge for their line up.

    Mazda needs to build a true small truck in one of their US plants. They are the only brand who would do it and not have to worry about diluting their mid/full size sales. Toyota, GM, Ram, Honda, Nissan & Ford all refuse to give anyone small truck options, and their mid-size are so big and expensive, there is little reason not to get their full-size (which I think is their strategy). Mazda made a good small truck and could seriously cannibalize the competition until they broke down and followed suit.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Mazda’s only factories that could dodge the chicken tax on trucks are located in Mexico. I agree with you, Mazda would be better off producing trucks in that factory than Toyota-badged Mazda2’s and Mazda3’s that could meet demand with Japanese production. Assuming that truck could sufficiently undercut the competition.

  • avatar
    xcalibur255

    I have a serious question for the editorial staff here. Why are there so many articles lambasting and sand bagging Mazda here? It seems like every few weeks or so there is an article like this one harpooning the brand and pointing out everything they do wrong. Attempts to provide a balanced viewpoint and celebrate what they do right are also often missing. I don’t see this kind of pointed and SUSTAINED criticism directed towards any other brand or maker.

    When you consider how well liked their vehicles are, flaws included since ALL cars have their flaws, that just makes it even more disparate.

  • avatar
    slow_poke

    COREY!!!

    what would be AWESOME would be if you sorted thru all these comments, tried to come up w/ a consensus approach by the B&B and then a) let us know and b) remember it for next year to see what Mazda ACTUALLY does!!!

    that would be really cool. can we, a bunch of auto enthusiasts, come up w/ as good as or better decisions than the exec’s at these companies…

    now THAT would be an interesting series!! (to me anyway!!)

    my two cents. (mainly because i got tired of reading all the comments but there are some really well thought out suggestions up there!)

  • avatar
    bodayguy

    – Longterm warranty. Buyers of Japanese imports want that reliability and resale you get with Honda/Toyota. Slap an 8-year warranty on every Mazda.

    – Continue to be competitive in the CUV class.

    – Build the next “Kia Soul” – some sort of trendy, affordable, colorful, all-arounder for a wide demographic. Make sure you have a catchy hamster-ish ad campaign.

    – To that end, hire Don Draper.

    (I own an ND Miata, my first Mazda).

  • avatar

    It has been suggested that Mazda should go up-market. They tried it before. Does anybody remember the Mazda 929? The Mazda Millenia? They received good reviews in the magazines, but apparently they didn’t sell very well here in the USA. Is the market now ready for a luxury Mazda? I’m skeptical.

    They tried to go down-market, too, most recently with the Mazda 2 – another car that received good magazine reviews, but that didn’t work either. They dropped the 2 from their lineup.

    Then, in the 1980s, long before the Lancer EVO and the Impreza WRX, they went full-bore performance with the turbocharged all-wheel-drive Mazda 323 GTX. Gone.

    So, in terms of going up-market, down-market, or sideways, I have no opinion on the types of cars Mazda should offer.

    But I can say this: I think their marketing is too narrowly focused. Their ads are aimed at people who get pleasure from driving. Perhaps they should tout the pleasure Mazda ownership can provide. Safety, convenience, reliability and style.

    By the way, I am a former Mazda owner. This goes way back, but I owned a 1994 Mazda MX3. I bought it new and kept it for 14 years, so it certainly gave me good service.

    On the positive side, it was very reliable, it handled well and, unlike some newer Mazdas, it had no rust issues at all.

    On the negative side, you could dent the sheet metal by sneezing on it, the interior fabrics were fragile, and the seats were atrociously uncomfortable from Day 1. I resorted to stuffing them with cardboard and rags to get support in the right places. Oh, and the body transmitted a lot of road noise, especially when the tires were worn a bit – the common NVH complaint.

    But I would not discourage anybody from buying a new Mazda, which is more than I can say for my experiences with my Fiat and Renault!

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Mazda’s previous upscale dreams (the Amati brand) were crushed when they collapsed and got bought out by Ford. The Millennia was supposed to be the Amati Something, to compete with the ES.

      You can see this in the early Millennias, which were built to a higher standard than other Mazda cars of the time – and then cheapened considerably with the refresh.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Internal to Japan, they also had the “ɛ̃fini” brand, and even marketed a loaded version of the gen 1 MPV as one of its featured models.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C6%90%CC%83fini

        Also, locally there is someone with a gen 1 929, black with some gold emblems and the factory lacy spoke wheels. Absolutely stunning looking car IMO.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    There is nothing wrong with Mazda. The problem is that the majority of posters here only see things from a North American perspective. Of the 21 ‘largest’ sellers of vehicles in 2016, it looks like 7 do not even sell vehicles in North America and 6 others have North America as their largest market.

    Global vehicle sales in order for 2016 (and this year we can add Mitsu’s total to Renault/Nissan’s): VW, Toyota, Renault/Nissan, GM, Hyundai, Ford, Honda, FCA, PSA, Suzuki, SAIC, Daimler, BMW, Chang’An, Mazda, Geely, Dongfeng, Great Wall, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Tata. There are a number of smaller ones after that most of whom also are not available in North America.

    So building a line of cars for the North American market appears to be a way to harm an automobile manufacturer. Instead, focus on ‘global’ style autos. The kind that sell in Europe, Africa, South America, Asia and in particular China. The United States, Canada and Australia are largely outliers.

    • 0 avatar
      newenthusiast

      While what you say is true, some of the companies you listed that do sell in North America have vehicles only available in North America as part of a long term strategy to build a market here.

      Toyota and Honda are the most obvious examples, but even Daimler, Nissan, Hyundai, and Ford seem to have completely different vehicles and sales channels in Europe and/or Asia than they do here.

      Mazda might be small enough where they might either have no desire or lack the financial strength to fund a plan like that, given that it probably means some times of low or no profit as more money is siphoned to R&D.

      This same issue is what has plagued VW (the brand, not the company) for a while in North America. They were unwilling (unable?) to create a more independent NA division (like Toyota and Honda) and build things to get more mainstream sales. IT is an enigma that Icannot answer as to why Audi was able to figure out how to increase sales in the USA and Canada, but VW couldn’t see what worked for them and do the same thing.

      Mazda, to me, is in a similar situation. Not EVERY vehicle in the Mazda stable has to be the best handling in its class. At least, not at the sacrifice of NV portion of NVH that we Americans prefer.

      Mazda is MUCH smaller globally and financially than VAG, so I get that it makes sense to have a focused vision across the line to simplify design and manufacturing. But do they NEED to obsess about weight so much? Are more comfortable seats and a little more sound isolation in their CX- lineup (and maybe the 6?) going to affect MPG so drastically that it makes no sense?

      I am not sure they should go premium, but I think for North America a flagship full size Mazda 9 sports sedan that drives like the German full size road rockets (only without the luxury things like leather and panoramic sunroofs, etc) it could work at the right price. If they could stretch the 6 in a way that makes visual sense without too much cost, it wouldn’t have to sell a lot to be profitable.

      Either that or jump into pick ups, which I believe is the most profitable category in the North American market, even in small numbers. Its probably why Nissan trucks and the Toyota Tundra still exist even with their small market share.

  • avatar
    Dan

    I know two people who set out to buy a new Mazda recently.

    One was coming out of a 12 year old Saturn, wanted a cheap car with three pedals, bought the 3i after a ten minute test drive and is pleased as punch with it.

    The other was coming out of a mid-00s Golf, wanted a Japanese hatchback (because that mid-00’s Golf had just eaten its transmission at 50K miles), and turned around after a ten minute test drive because the car “sounded and felt like it was about to break.” She bought an Impreza instead.

    A new car that feels chintzier than the old car that the buyer is replacing is an awfully tough sale.

    • 0 avatar
      joc6812

      They need to radically upgrade their dealer network. Everywhere I’ve lived (USA) the Mazda dealer has the crappiest facility and the sleazeiest sales people. Local feedback I’ve seen on the Mazda “experience” is always about the lowest. They also need to get a lot more competitive with their incentive and leasing programs. I’ve wanted to buy a Mazda for the last few years, but these things have held me back.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    I would love to see Mazda realign with Ford. That relationship provided great cars for both companies the first time.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    Diesel passenger vehicles are useless, they do nothing for the brand. Just pull back the program and lock it up forever. The diesel enthusiast crowd is tiny.

    If anything, they need some sort of a hybrid because the H-word sells.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    Use to…

    Mazda releasing 1 diesel CUV isn’t going to make any real difference. VW had a full line of TDI vehicles and they still can’t make a case for them to bring it back 2 years later. The project is a money pit.

  • avatar
    Funky

    I wholeheartedly agree with “Improve dealer coverage throughout the nation, because you can’t buy from a dealer that doesn’t exist”. This, by itself, would be sufficient to obtain their 2% goal. And, if from the start, within the new regions Mazda lines-up upscale dealerships (or at least dealerships with nice new facilities), Mazda will, within the new regions, have an opportunity to portray themselves as a more premium brand. I believe improving dealer coverage, alone, would be the key to successfully achieving their objectives.

  • avatar
    crossx5

    Being a current mazda owner, I can suggest my wish list here, along with usual suggestions in the article.

    I think they need a couple of things.
    – A differentiated product line like i and s. Where s can carry forward their current idea and i can evolve to more mainstream comfortable cars.
    – s can adopt higher power, rather more torque, engines like 2.5 or 2.2d turbos.
    – i can adopt to a higher combined power using borrowed hybrid tech. I recall toyota was licensing their for free.
    – Probably more niche products like mazda3/6 wagons. I would readily trade my cx5 for a 2.2d turbo mazda 6 alltrack wagon. A similar type formula had done wonders for Subaru. They didn’t fight battles on other’s ground buy created a new ground altogether.


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