By on March 28, 2018

Mazda Kai Concept

Mazda recently dropped a very brief teaser video suggesting a reveal of some sort during the New York auto show. Only the smallest of glimpses were given of a Mazda-esque headlight and grille edging, leaving speculation running from a CX-9 crossover refresh to an all-wheel-drive 6 sedan.

Well, wonder no more, as Mazda has just shown a new RX-9 coupe with twin rotary engines, a rear-drive 929 sedan, and an importation of the Bongo Friendee.

No, wait, hang on. What I meant to say was Mazda spent nearly 30 minutes talking about a new marketing campaign and about how its customers aren’t customers — they’re fans. Sigh.

At least the tantalizing Mazda KAI Concept, a vehicle which this author has dubbed “Son of Brera,” was in the background during the TED Talk press conference.

2019-CX-3 Mazda

To be fair, the company did mention updates made to the CX-3 crossover. For 2019, the little ute gets interior updates, chiefly in the form of an electronic parking brake that frees up room and allows for a significant increase in storage space. The new centre console and armrests shuffle around the placement of the CX-3’s cupholders and bins.

The 2019 Mazda CX-3 also gets new front chairs, redesigned to be wider and constructed with a high-density, vibration-absorbing urethane foam. The CX-3 has always felt a little small inside, so perhaps this change will alleviate some of that perception. Rear seat passengers gain a centre armrest with built-in cupholders, too. Heady stuff here, folks.

2019-CX-3 Mazda

Most of the event was spent yammering about Mazda’s new tagline of “Feel Alive,” to be launched in conjunction with a new marketing program set to appear this coming Monday. Mazda North America chief marketing officer Dino Bernacchi held court on this topic for many minutes, explaining how the company refers to its customers as “fans” and that it’s forging some sort of tie-up with Amazon. Damned if I know those details, as my eyes had long glazed over by that point.

On Twitter, our former newsbot, Aaron Cole, had this to say about the new tagline:

Good observation, Mr. Cole. Essentially, the whole press conference could’ve been boiled down to “we are updating the About section of our website.” I fully expected to be pitched a time-share apartment in Florida at the end of the presentation.

Nods were given throughout to the upcoming Skyactiv-X powertrain, technology that is said to combine the free-revving characteristics of a gasoline engine with the fuel efficiency, torque, and fast initial response of a diesel unit. No timeline was given for its arrival, but the fact that the company continues to talk about it is a good harbinger that it will eventually appear.

As for existing powerplants, the Skyactiv-G unit found in the 2019 CX-3 now makes 148 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque thanks to a retuning that’s said to also improve fuel efficiency and reduce internal friction. Mild tweaks by way of thicker door panels and headliner, plus the never-ending quest to tighten up door seams, should reduce cabin din by a couple of decibels.

Mazda is a great company that arguably hawks some of the best machines in the segments in which it competes. Its promise of “a BIG reveal in the BIG apple” fell a bit short on the product but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Mazda cars remain sharp lookers that are hugely entertaining to drive.

Just go lighter on the marketing hyperbole and heavier on product at the next New York show, please.

[Images: Mazda]

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26 Comments on “Adventures in Marketing: Mazda Wants You to Feel Alive...”


  • avatar

    RWD 929? Ok, I’m listening……

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “Well, wonder no more, as Mazda has just shown a new RX-9 coupe with twin rotary engines, a rear-drive 929 sedan”

    I nearly fell off my chair

    “CX-3 … Rear seat passengers gain a centre armrest with built-in cupholders…”

    Yea, but they will still be badly contorted in those seats.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      Haha, me too. I went back to read the list of reveals before I read on “wha wha wha whaaaat…….oh.” I see what you did there, bait and switch just like the Mazda reveal.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Count me as another who had to do a double take! TTAC, no fair! it’s not even April 1st yet!!

      As for the new slogan, I’m neutral. There was zoom zoom, what do you drive, driving matters, and now “Feel Alive.” I think people will just get used to it. Similarly, “SkyActiv” raised eyebrows at first, but now we all know what it means and don’t bat an eye.

      Anyone recall what came before “zoom zoom?”

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “Anyone recall what came before ‘zoom zoom?’ ”

        I did not, but it was apparently “Get in. Be Moved.”

        Enjoy these very, very 90s commercials:

        youtube.com/watch?v=AfweCrdvWEA

        youtube.com/watch?v=-OWClg4FKVw

        youtube.com/watch?v=97Gyfr7E_Lo

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          “it just feels right”

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMkVfFTmzGo

          “that’s the mazda way”

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egAIuAZMqmM

          “mazda sets the standard”

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    If they want people to feel alive in a CX-3, try making one with a real engine and a manual.

  • avatar
    TW5

    To make people feel alive in a car, remove all power controls, all steering wheel buttons, and all superfluous electronic junk. The only options should be (1) two-speaker am/fm radio (2) air conditioning (3) adjustable exhaust baffle (4) cruise control

    This should be the “sport” trim in every lineup. Eliminate lots of things. Add back only what matters.

    Anyway, we all know they aren’t going to do that so maybe “Feel Alive” isn’t the best.

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack7G

    Nothing makes me feel more alive than pushing a button and hearing the reassuring “crunch-whirr-crunch” of an electronic parking brake. Especially when parking on a hill and then walking in front of the car.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    It would be easy for a small Mazda to ‘Feel Alive’: lose the 300 lbs. of coddling that buyers, stretched to their buying limit, expect after a ride in a Mercedes or BMW or the like. With a decent HVAC system electric window lifts don’t really matter. Well-designed seats on a pair of rails weigh a lot less than nth-way powered thrones do. NVH from the engine bay is something I don’t know much about but, having recorded music for 30 years, making the engine bay an iso-booth shouldn’t be THAT hard. Balance shafts and I6s cost more than baffling – I get it.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Isobooths with meaningful low frequency attenuation, are heavy enough to fall through floors in what passes for $10 million dollar houses in San Francisco…

      • 0 avatar
        Tele Vision

        We don’t track that infrasound/brown note stuff. Did an iso really fall through a floor? That’s awesome. I’ll isolate a cabinet if someone loves his SVT ‘tone’ but the low-freq bass is usually straight D.I. mixed with a pair of mics.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Whatever that is in the first pic looks fantastic. From the front it probably has angry clown face though. And they won’t sell it in the US without jacking it up 3″ and slathering ugly black plastic all over it. Sigh.

    Though I have never gotten the hype about ordinary Mazdas being all that to drive. Never seemed like anything special to me, and VW has usually done it better class-for-class.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      It’s the Kai concept that’s supposed to preview the next 3, it debuted in the flesh in Tokyo last year. So in theory they’ll make it without cladding

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The rear end of the first one makes me want to barf. Resembles the business end of a dog I can’t quite place. Zoom zoom zoom, is this brand even still relevant (hint: no).

  • avatar
    stuki

    Can’t vouch for what people are feeling, but by reversing the slow culling of the availability of proper transmissions, Mazda could at least let its customers verify that they are, in fact, alive at more points during their drive…

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    People comment on the CX-3 feeling small (and it does when you try to pack for a trip) but I never hear about people talking how cramped the Ford Escape feels from the front seats.

    My boss has an Escape and every time we ride to lunch, I think, “Man, I feel like I’m back in the womb.”

  • avatar
    Kek

    I was enjoying till the marketing guy came on. Still big positives for MZDL

    AA Carplay – probably lost 20-30K sales a year in US.
    CX3 updates – it will still sell in small numbers but hands down the best looking crossover out there under 40K USD.
    Big thing to look for is will AA Carplay be a single price option for older models as well? I hope so. AA Carplay implementation for many other makes has been a hit and miss with subscription options and poor connectivity.

    Hopefully the 6 will sell in decent numbers. CX5 is sort of on fire – wouldnt be surprised if it hits 150K in sales. Many are still waiting for mazda diesel or 2.5t but it is obvious mazda makes few cars and makes them right. They cannot release models for different markets due to constraints. Even the diesel – so close it probably not happening due to 15K sales in US not being worth it. Jeally that UK / EU get the 6 wagon and diesels :(

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    The rear view of this Mazda reminds me of MODOK from Marvel Comics. Either him or Lockjaw, the dog from the Inhumans.

  • avatar
    fred0804

    The top picture in the article is the 2019 Mazda 3. It’s going to be outstanding visually and mechanically.

  • avatar

    Always thought that Marchionne should have Alfa Romeo team up with Mazda for the FWD cars and with Maserati as far as the RWD cars concerned. The MX-5 Miata could have been a new Spider Duetto instead of a Fiat 124 rehash nobody was waiting for.

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