Mazda's too "mature" for performance cars.
Few brands have the same loyal following as Mazda and for good reason. The Japanese automaker has always made affordable, sporty and fun-to-drive cars when other brands are stuck on putting mundane machines on the road. While the Mazda MX-5 Miata has been a love it or hate it kind of thing, the automaker won over enthusiasts with a practical side with the Mazdaspeed3 and Mazdaspeed6. The world has been patiently waiting for Mazda to come out with new iterations of the cars and it looks like everyone will have to wait a bit longer.
A recent report from Australia’s Motoring reveals that Mazda’s CEO of North American Operations, Masahiro Moro, has no interest in Mazdaspeed cars at the moment. If Mazda had a good reason for not wanting to build high-performance cars, we would understand. But the real reason as to why Mazda doesn’t want to build performance vehicles is because the turbocharged models were "childish." We can’t help but think that Mazda has lost its mind and is missing out on a great opportunity. The Ford Focus RS, Volkswagen Golf R and Honda Civic Type R have showed us that there is a large market for high-performance hatchbacks.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, Mazda had a plan to show off a third-gen Mazdaspeed concept at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, but opted to preview the China-only CX-4 crossover instead. If any other automaker did this, we wouldn’t care, but Mazda isn’t like any other brand and has always put enthusiasts first. The move to turn Mazda into a profit-first, upscale brand will surely be met with a lot of strong opposition and is a mistake. The world may be hot for SUVs and crossovers right now but the trend for larger vehicles will surely come to an end soon and having China dictate sales will end in a bad way. From where I’m sitting, two or even one Mazdaspeed model sold globally would do much better than one half-cooked crossover in China.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an automaker put a great concept aside for a China-only car and it probably won’t be the last. There is, however, some good news as Moro believes that the Mazdaspeed variants will return with the next generation of sedans. Mazda’s plan to make money before putting out cars that are enjoyable and fun to drive is a trend that has infected the entire automotive industry. How long will automakers continue to let China’s specific tastes ruin cars for the rest of the world?