Step 1: Make a car more powerful and cooler looking. Step 2: Profit.
When Masahiro Moro, president and CEO of Mazda North America, called the Mazdaspeed3 “childish” we thought that the automaker was done with tuning its cars forever. But then we spoke to Robert Davis, senior vice president of Mazda North America, at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show. During our chat we learned that the media-declared death of Mazdaspeed was premature. “We’re not ready to talk about where we’re going to go next with it [Mazdaspeed] but we still think it’s an important element in our brand,” Davis told us.
Mazda is moving upmarket, and although it likes to act like the competition doesn’t exist the reality is that the premium or “near-premium” players it’s positioning itself next to all offer performance variants of normal cars. “If you look at the luxury makes they all have the Mazdaspeed equivalent...AMG, M, S, etc... We still think that’s important,” Mazda North America’s SVP acknowledged. The Japanese automaker is doing its best to focus on the quality of its cars, not the quantity in which its cars sell. That means convincing buyers to opt for higher trim levels that cost more. As we’ve learned from the Germans the best way to get people to spend more on cars is to tune the engine a tad and offer a sporty body kit.
Mazda seems to be up for that idea, and for the record the company doesn’t believe that all Speed models were childish. Apparently Moro-san’s comment was not in reference to Mazdaspeed overall. “If you looked at a MazdaSpeed3 or a Mazda Protge it was pretty immature but everything was immature back then.” Just because Mazda has plans to tune its cars again doesn’t mean you should hold your breath waiting for an official announcement. First the company needs to launch its diesel CX-5 crossover in the US. Then comes the diesel-powered 6. After that the automaker may start work on the next rotary-powered RX model. After all that is done, or maybe just after the diesels are launched, we may see some more Mazdaspeeds.