Why let Subaru and even Audi snag all the customers?
For years the only mainstream, non-luxury brand that offered its entire lineup with standard all-wheel drive was Subaru. Audi, of course, is famous for its Quattro all-wheel technology and its German competitors, BMW and Mercedes-Benz now offer AWD on the majority of their lineups, including high-performance models. Mazda, despite a history with RWD, understands the need to offer AWD. Speaking to Car Advice, CEO of Mazda North America, Masahiro Moro, acknowledged the demand for AWD in the US.
Problem is, the platforms underpinning both vehicles have their limitations. "I think we are not able to combine four-wheel drive and the 2.5-liter turbo. We have a layout issue with the sedans, that's why a four-wheel drive isn't deployed on the Mazda 3 and 6 so far," Moro admitted. "But there is a huge demand, at least what I know is that in the east coast of the USA, 80 or 90 percent of the premium sedans are sold with all-wheel drive." Take note that Moro specifically said "premium sedans." Remember, Mazda is already working to break into the premium category and looking at the new Mazda6, for example, is further proof of this plan.
Think of it like this: if you can't afford one of those German luxury brands, Mazda wants to be there for you as a premium Asian alternative. It understands sports cars and the importance of driving. If AWD becomes an option, then Mazda will only increase its market share. "Four-wheel drive becomes a premium queue for US consumers and obviously I have asked our R&D department to think about how we can accommodate four-wheel drive capability in the future," said Moro.