Mazda, you better listen to us on this one!
Last week, we imagined what it would be like if Ford built a range of ST and RS models. This week, it's the turn of Mazda. The Japanese carmaker hasn't built a MazdaSpeed model since the 2013 model year. That car featured a 263 hp 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. While the car wasn't the most successful in its class, it did show that Mazda was willing to build fun cars that could actually go fast. The current crop of Mazdas are nice to drive, but they lack a bit of "Zoom-Zoom."
Unfortunately, Mazda's CEO of North American Operations, Masahiro Moro says he has no interest in MazdaSpeed cars at the moment. Apparently, the turbocharged MazdaSpeed models were too childish to fit with the brand's current image. If we completely ignore the fact that Porsche and BMW are now making turbocharged cars that adults buy, keeping naturally aspirated engines might not be such a bad idea. In a world where more cars are starting to feel numb, naturally aspirated MazdaSpeed cars might be a sweet taste of purity. We think that one or two of these models would help cement Mazda as a sportier alternative to other manufacturers like Ford and Honda.
Even Ford and Honda have some fun every once in a while with models like the Focus RS and Civic Type R. As of now, the only truly sporty model that Mazda builds is the MX-5, and many people think that even this is too slow. We aren't sure how easy it would be, but if Mazda could build more powerful naturally aspirated engines, it could make some incredible drivers cars. If a MazdaSpeed MX-5 came with around 220 horsepower, it would probably satisfy most people's desire for a sportier Miata. If you want more than that, go buy a Mustang. For a more practical performance car, Mazda could take the 3 and CX-3, and give them a naturally aspirated engine with around 250-300 horsepower.
This may not sound like a ton of power, but a naturally aspirated four-cylinder with that much power would be a little tough to build. However, if Mazda could figure it out, we could end up with very unique drivers cars with excellent responsiveness. New Mazda models already have a great reputation for driving feel, but a bit more power and some better suspension would cement Mazda as the clear choice for drivers. Don't you think that being the best brand for drivers is worth spending a bit of money on a few sporty models? Just because Mazda can make more money with boring crossovers, doesn't mean it is the best thing for the brand.