Born, raised and terminated during the Asian bubble economy- the story of Mazda’s shortlived design and performance skunkworks.
In Tokyo’s Setagaya ward stands a building that is hard to miss, thanks to its highly unusual appearance. Currently occupied by a funeral company, it originally served as the headquarters and showroom for M2, Mazda’s creator of limited-edition specials and prototypes. The eye-catching structure, designed by architect Kengo Kuma, is made out of reinforced concrete, although it is executed in such a way that it resembles masonry construction. A gigantic central Ionic column dominates the view and contains an atrium plus a glazed elevator shaft. Clearly, this was no ordinary showroom but then M2 was no ordinary outfit.
Established in 1990, M2 was no doubt partly inspired by competitor Nissan’s ‘Pike Factory’ success in selling uniquely styled limited editions such as the BE-1, PAO and S-Cargo. These were based on Nissan’s regular offerings and sold through the Cherry Stores network. Continue reading “M Too”
The story of an Asian doppelganger coming to grief.
Economic booms entice businesses from many sectors to enter new markets with the aim of securing a slice of the potential money-pie, and car manufacturers are no exception. The Republic of Indonesia under President Suharto’s very pro-business ‘new order’ administration was enjoying just such an economic sweet-spot in the early 1990s, despite growing suspicions of widespread corruption. A country with a population of over 200 million people riding the wave of a steadily growing economy seduced none other than Porsche AG to Continue reading “Wrong Number”
Japan is a country where traditional values are held in high regard, yet outright wackiness at times abounds, where the business-suited salaryman shares a seat on the subway with a flamboyantly made up cosplay girl dressed in a frilly maid costume and nobody bats an eyelid. Hence, it is an environment where even normally conservative manufacturers are not afraid to Continue reading “Spirited Away”
Automotive sightings that leave your author perplexed.
The striking of a recently repaired nearby church clock signalled the end of another tedious morning in the office, and a fine spring day invited me outdoors to take the air. There followed a pleasant stroll, enlivened by some interesting, if conflicting, automotive observations.
Within seconds of leaving my place of work, the first of three wildly different vehicles caused my automotive radar to blip. It was a current (fourth) generation Mazda MX-5. Not a rare sighting by any means, but the unusually scruffy condition of this particular example gave it an aged, neglected and rather morose demeanour. I inferred from its condition that its driver may have travelled great distances with neither the opportunity nor inclination to Continue reading “Three Glasses Half-Full or Half-Empty”
Even I have come to accept that sports car marques can barely survive, and certainly not thrive, without having an SUV or crossover in their portfolio. Indeed, it seems that even developing a saloon car is not worth the R&D these days, given the news that Mazda will not be replacing the Mazda6, although its new FR platform, RWD, straight-sixes and all, looks tailor made for that job.
Most long-established readers of this noble site will know that I am a bit of a Mazda fanboy. A few years ago, I wrote a series of long-term tests regarding my Mazda3 Fastback, and more recently I did a retrospective on the 1983 Mazda 626. I have admired the company’s innovation over the years, its independent spirit and, most recently, its ‘Kodo’ design language. Oh, and I still think that Soul Red Crystal is the still most beautiful paint colour on any mass-production car.
The current Mazda3 is somewhat divisive, mainly due to the arguably over-generously proportioned rear pillar on the 5-door hatch. However, the sophisticated surfacing, restrained detailing and beautifully assembled and finished interior really do rival or even exceed the design standards of premium marques such as BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. I don’t recall Mazda claiming full-blown ‘premium’ aspirations for the current 3, but much about the car is giving a vigorous nod in that direction. Continue reading “Mazda’s BMW”
DTW looks back at a car which attracted a very favourable review from then-editor Cropley at Car magazine, yet would scarcely register in terms of annual sales.
In 1983, I was 15 and already deep in car nerd-dom. I had a monthly order for Car magazine at my local newsagent (at which I had a part-time job every Sunday morning) and would genuinely get a tingle of excitement one week of every month in anticipation that it would be there as ordered when I rolled up for work.
Mazda jolts into electric life. We take a helicopter view.
Mazda think differently. They once took a rotary engine to Le Mans and won the race. They reinvented the small British sports car, firmly trouncing anything wearing an octagonal badge or hailing from Hethel. They made a sporting car, placing that high pitched, wailing engine into bodywork with funny rear doors – discussed almost as often as the rotary – and sold respectable amounts.
Today, toeing the line is in order; bigger, taller vehicles from the Hiroshima based manufacturer (but styled in Germany) have taken a tangent by listening, studying and evaluating what (some) folk aspire to. One cannot see the competition breaking sweat over this Mazda eXperiment-30 but for those who switch on more, an opportunity to Continue reading “The Red Dot Adds Anxiety”
The Mazda Tribute was launched twenty years ago. If you don’t remember it, you’re in the majority who overlooked the car when it was on sale, then quickly forgot about it. Time to remember.
The Tribute was significant in that it was Mazda’s first tentative step into both SUVs and four-wheel drive*. It was co-developed with Ford, which held a 33.4% stake in Mazda at that time. The Ford version was called Escape in the US and Maverick in Europe. It was a mid-sized five-door transverse-engined front or four-wheel-drive SUV. The model was based on the Ford CD2 platform, which was itself a development of the Mazda GF platform that underpinned the 626/Capella saloon.
A random glance at a Mazda Demio made me think again about grilles and the way designers deal with that hole in the front of the car.
The subject unfolds as a matter of design semantics. That means more or less we are concerned with the meaning of the air intake and its expression. This Demio (above) is a bit fancier than the one I saw in my district but it is geometrically the same. The approach was to use an “egg-box” in-fill and to use a U-shaped plastic trim piece to enable them to Continue reading “All the Ways We Sang, All the Songs We Went”
Driven to Write suffers from heat stroke – for your benefit.
It’s hardly revelatory of me to point out that in this corner of the Costa del Sol, the ratio of sunshine to overcast is overwhelmingly in the favour of the former – after all, the hint is in the name. No great insight either in suggesting that in the warm glow of a sunbaked afternoon, everything looks more attractive – except perhaps, pale, light-averse Irishmen. The effects of ambient lighting is a subject that has reared its head on more than one occasion on these pages, so if I repeat myself, I can only suggest you Continue reading “The Glare”
A keenly anticipated visual encounter ensues. Your correspondent comes away impressed.
The products of Hiroshima are not without their exponents upon the pages of Driven to Write – we have both editorially and in the submissions from our contributors been rather generous in our praise both of the previous generation 3 model and its shapely new replacement.
On the surface of things, Mazda appears to have taken a noticeable step forward with this car, moving closer to the upmarket German makes, both in aspiration and overall desirability – especially now as the latter move towards an ever more attention-seeking and repellent visual palette. But up to now, the new 3 existed for me only in the occasional fleeting glance and in static two dimensional form.
As we know however, there is no substitute for a three-dimensional viewpoint and yesterday evening, I received my first clear sighting of Mazda’s latest C-segment midliner in natural evening light. Time to Continue reading “The Surface of Things”
In the 21st century, common knowledge dictates that a car brand has to please everyone in order to succeed. Thankfully however, Mazda appear to disagree with this assessment.
Mazda’s most recent concept cars don’t photograph well.
What may sound like a negligible statement has, in fact, significant subtext. For in this day and age, photos are everything. In terms of marketing, appearances have never been of greater importance. In the age of the internet, social media et al, the word has lost most of its value to the image. So when food is judged by its looks rather than taste, car makers could be forgiven for making their cars, and concept cars in particular, not so much eye as phone camera candy. Continue reading “Kodo Arrigato”
We have a thing for rarities here. How about this?
The lighting conditions could only be called tricky: indoors and with huge glazed surfaces on two sides. This meant my Canon Ixus faced a challenge. The same camera also did the duty for the recent Audi 100 article, my iPhone now being little more than a micro-tablet for domestic netsurfing.
The third Mazda 3 had a curiously short life: six years only. No wonder it only seems like yesterday when it was introduced.
And now a new one is upon us, revealed at the LA Motor Show which is in LA this year. God bless them, Mazda have seen fit to grace the car with a comprehensible engine line-up of 1.5 and 2.0 litres plus a super-efficient diesel for those markets not scared witless by DERV. Mazda, like Honda, do still seem to be interested in engines and so the new diesel “uses multi-hole piezo injectors to Continue reading “Like Unto Being Two Souls In One Heart”
Driven to Write profiles a refugee who made it in the new World.
During the early 1970s, it appeared as though Toyo Kogyo’s Mazda division had stolen something of a march on the auto industry. Alongside Germany’s NSU, Mazda invested heavily into wankel engine development and while Neckersulm’s all-in commitment saw them Continue reading “Rotary Survivor”
The other day I gently placed a tiny gauntlet at the feet of the readers, a challenge concerning the set of boring parked cars. What had they in common, I inquired softly.
I received some jolly interesting replies ranging from observations about their grilles to their general banality. There was also a good guess about engine displacements. Alas, despite their ingenuity and their not being 100% wrong, none of the replies were precisely, exactly and perfectly what I was looking for. So, in order to lower people’s tension levels I will Continue reading “If Only Hope and Despair Did Not Live Side By Side”
Due to certain circumstances, this author was granted the chance to successively experience two up-to-date (rental) cars up close. The resultant findings led to conclusions not just regarding the (de)merits of each vehicle, but the modern automobile in general.
Just a few days after having returned the rental VW Tiguan, it was time to head back to the counter for yet another go at the Rental Car Lottery. After my partner and I had turned out to be less than smitten with VW’s core SUV offering, I had – again – made an attempt at guessing what fate the car rental’s key cabinet would have in store for us this time around. My (figurative) money had been on the VW T-Roc. Continue reading “A Tale Of Two Cars: Mazda 3 2.2D 150”
The summer is here and DTW’s offices become ferociously stuffy, a maelstrom of dandruff, cigar ash and wine-label dust dancing in the shafts of half-light.
Simon Kearne, the editor, moves his collection of sherry and cooking marsala to his summer residence (location: secret) and Myles Gorfe’s padded rally jacket disappears off his swivel chair. We never see him, or him taking it. He has gone, like a swallow in September.
So, this writer is also fleeing DTW’s dusty, cramped, byzantine, magazine-clogged rooms on the ninth floor for a summer pause. However, I am not going to display complete dereliction of duty and so have left a trove of articles on automotive life in 1998. which I have tagged Re-1998. They will appear over the coming weeks.
This is beyond weird. I don’t even see interesting cars at the other end of the street.
These mysteries and these enigmas appear just on my bit of street, not the other three bits. Here we are with the kind of old man’s car the residents find irresistible. Usually that means Carinas, Astras and 406s. Today it’s a mint-condition Mazda 323 saloon in a pale golden metallic colour. I had a close look at it and all the black plastic is in lovely, dark condition, box fresh from Hofu. Yes, I know you can Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 1994-1998 Mazda 323 saloon”
This could also have been Something Rotten In Denmark. However, it isn’t listed on-line so it’ll have to be a Photo For Sunday.
I had not taken two photos before the owner leaped out of his workshop nearby to tell me that this beauty had only covered 89,000 km. The green tinted body-work and phenomenal condensation inside the car strongly spoke against the vehicle in practice. In principle, it’s a Mk 1 Ford Probe which detail further argues against it. One other nice aspect of buying this car is that if you absolutely had to Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 1990 Ford Probe”
A few months after having left my now ex-go-to-work wheels in a Skoda dealer’s customer parking bay, I thought I should put a full-stop on the sporadic LTT that I sometimes provided on these pages.
Time and the opportunity to compare it with the Octavia which replaced it provide context and perspective on my views. I spent just over two years and 33,000 miles with my Titanium Flash Mica hued Mazda saloon. To recap, I bought the car with the original intent of swapping my C6 in for it, but instead, through the benevolence of my family, I was able to keep the slightly exotic and eccentric Citroen ‘for pleasure’ and have the Mazda to take the burden of my extended daily commute.
Despite this particular group of people hardly being renowned connoisseurs of the finer things in life, manufacturers try their utmost to make the Frankfurt Motor Show a palatable experience for the press. Do they succeed?
The IAA press days are all about hustle and bustle. Most attendees have appointments to make or deadlines to meet, which – coupled with the distances that need to be covered at Messe Frankfurt, not to mention the above average levels of dehydration, (courtesy of the halls’ air conditioning) one is afflicted with – can render grabbing a bite to eat a difficult necessity. Continue reading “IAA 2017: A Culinary Perspective”
Driventowrite leaves no corner of the automotive world unexamined. Today we look a bit at paint, Mazda paint, Toyota paint, Opel paint…
Mazda presented their new colour in November, ending their press release with the memorable line: “colour is an element of form”.
Soul Red Crystal is a development of an existing Mazda colour, Soul Red that “balances vibrant energy and vividness with clear depth and gloss.” So, it’s rich and shiny. Mazda estimate that it has 20 percent higher colour saturation and 50 percent more depth”. I don’t know how the depth is estimated. There is no insight here. There might be some here.
Pre-facelift Mazda 3 and Post-facelift Mazda 3: spot the difference!
The Mazda 3 has been featuring in UK-based car magazines recently, partly as one of the weeklies has been running one as a LTT car (a Fastback 1.5L Diesel SportNav) and also because the 3 has just been given an very mild facelift and tech update. I thought I’d use this as an excuse to impart the news on the facelifted car and also throw in an update on how my own car has been running. Continue reading “Long Term Test – Mazda 3 Fastback 2.2 diesel SportNav”
Three years: that’s how long this car lasted in the market. It’s broadly a Mazda 929 with a different (and longer badge) and an unusual Miller-cycle 2.3 litre V6 supercharged engine.
Nothing if not responsive to the caprices and whims of our dear readers, I dug out this little nugget to satisfy those who have been stalking the Miller engine lately. The photo is not as good as a scan but then again I avoided a walk to my local print shop and all the tedium that would entail. Pistonheads wrote about the car here. It can be considered a BMW 5-series competitor but is somewhat larger. The rounded forms conceal the bulk. Continue reading “Brochure du jour: 1998 Mazda Xedos 9 Miller”
In recognition of this month’s theme, I thought I would provide a short update on progress with my current car: it’s Japanese.
I have now completed over 12,500 miles in the 3. It had its first service just over a week ago, which set me back just a little under £200, most of which went on labour (the going hourly rate is high around here), oil and filters. The car had an engine software upgrade, which apparently was part of a recall that never found its way to my post-box. This was described as a “rough idle recall”, which was not a problem that I ever noticed. It does seem to have improved the fuel economy of the car (the last two tanks-full have averaged just over 60 MPG – up from about 57). Continue reading “Theme: Japan – 2015 Mazda3 Fastback, 2.2L Diesel SportNav”
We may have dealt with this car before. Today it’s here as a photoseries courtesy of our good friends at Autoscout24 where the cars shown here are on sale.
The images tell most of the story. The bit I want to write about here is the baffling habit the Japanese brands had of multiple names for the same cars. We know this one as the Mazda 929 coupe because that was its European name. In Japan it was either a Cosmo or a Luce. Why the difference? Mazda has a chain of dealerships (Mazda Auto) they owned directly. At Mazda Auto the car you see here had Cosmo badges and could be purchased as a coupe or saloon. Continue reading “Theme: Japan – 1981 To 1989 Mazda 929 coupe”
A reader suggested the Mazda CX-3 as being a good example of the phenomenon of the blacked-out C-pillar.
Here is the original followed by my hasty remodelling of the car. The way I see it, the c-pillar of the actual car is just painted black. This is what Citroen does on cars such as the C1. The next step is to Continue reading “2015 Mazda CX-3 and Its C-pillar”
Mazda brought in more cash than expected so far this year. That means three operating profits in a row. How will they spend all that money?
Three cars helped out Mazda’s bottom line: The Mazda2, the CX3 and the MX-5. The older cars in the Mazda showroom all continue to sell well too. Europe’s part in this to contribute a 21% increase in vehicle turnover. Japan – despite a two decade doldrum of historic dimensions – provided a 33% increase. China did well as well (but for how much longer. Will China be able to keep providing sales volume for Mazda? Continue reading “Any Colour So Long As It’s Red (except the bottom line)”
We take a look at a press release from Mazda and see if it’s interesting. Here are the best bits paraphrased and commented upon.
Mazda has increased unit sales by 29% year-on-year and has grown for 12 consecutive quarters. Between July and last month, Mazda sold nearly 60,000 vehicles which explains why there are so many 3’s roaming around my neck of the woods, though no new 1’s have been sighted. The overall market has grown by 10.6% so Mazda have done better than the average. I suppose this might be from a smaller base but creditable nonetheless. The net effect of all this stupendous growth is to Continue reading “Just How Good Is It For Mazda? Rather, But From a Low Base.”
In it they explained that they are unveiling a new concept car, the Koeru. What else did they say?
That’s not the only bit of news: “Mazda’s IAA exhibition also features the all-new Mazda MX-5 roadster complete with a range of specially developed accessories. Among these are a space age boot-lid mounted luggage carrier in a solid yet ultra-lightweight carbon construction (to be offered with a matching Moncabas suitcase) and exclusive 17-inch alloy wheels in an asymmetrical diamond-cut look.” Continue reading “Mazda Sent Driven to Write An e-mail Today!”
In this third instalment, I thought I’d provide my views on some of the more practical aspects of the Mazda3.
I’ve previously alluded to the fact that the 3 is not as popular with my family members as it is with me. In fact, the mood during the test drive we all went on together chilled the atmosphere in the car more than the air-con will ever manage. This resulted in pressure to consider various larger (new Mondeo), more expensive (A3 Saloon) and mainstream (Passat) alternatives from those in the rear in particular. My 15 year old son was particularly vociferous, although I suspected that the fact that he really wanted me to Continue reading “Long Term Test: Mazda3 Fastback 2.2d Sport Nav – The View from the Back Seat”
In April 2001 the first reports about Mazda’s rotary engine coupe-saloon RX-8 appeared. Production started in 2002. What happened then?
Behind the idea of the four-door coupe was that people wanted something more practical than a two-door coupe but liked the image and appearance of the classic hardtop sports car. The use of a compact rotary engine and a complex door concept allowed more space inside the cabin and the means to get at it without gymnastics. Continue reading “Looking back: 2001 Mazda RX-8”
In this second instalment, I thought I’d provide my views on how the Mazda3 drives.
I count myself as someone who is normally immune to whatever slogan/ brand strap-line nonsense a company’s marketing team and/ or agency throws at a product or service that they are trying to sell. Actually, that’s not quite correct as a statement; normally such nonsense prejudices me against whatever is being advertised, promoted or sold. I may be showing my bias towards my new purchase, or just indulging in a little subconscious post-purchase decision re-enforcement, but, after recent drives in the 3, I have twice found myself trying to recall marketing messages in the various pieces of Mazda brochure-ware I have lately consumed. Continue reading “Long Term Test: Mazda3 Fastback 2.2d Sport Nav”
The other day I wrote as a comment to someone else’s blog bemoaning the fact that car magazines don’t write truly long term tests anymore. This morning, I realised on my drive to work that I had the perfect opportunity to right that wrong.
So, change of working circumstance (and those of this website!?) aside, here’s my statement of intent – to write an irregular progress report on my new Mazda for as long as I keep it. I bought the car as a means by which I get to work and back 3-4 days per week. I live 65 miles away from my place of work, over a mix of the M1, A43 and B4525 (otherwise known as the” Welsh Lanes”). This journey will form the bulk of the miles that I cover in the new car, but there will be exceptions. Previously, this had been the work of my other means of transport, the much referenced Citroen C6, which has become a little too inconsistent of recent months.
Today, there is a dearth of truly practical hatchbacks. VW’s excellent Golf routinely gets lambasted by various enthusiasts as ‘boring’. Everyone wants their family runabout to look like it belongs at the ‘Ring, and much of what is now on the market seems designed to flatter the driver’s self-image whilst ignoring their passengers needs. The lack of rear headroom, visibility and easy access in so many current bread and butter vehicles in the quest for someone’s idea of a cool exterior is now the norm, rather that the exception. But, if I wanted to point at a car that, at the time seemed rather refreshing for breaking away from the ubiquitous boxiness, I’d nominate the Mazda 323F from 1989..
Having sniffed the exhaust pipes of the French and German marques within Europe’s D-segment, we make one last visit to wave a fond adieu to our friends from Japan.
A facelifted Toyota Avensis bowed in at Geneva, featuring front-end styling eerily familiar to current Auris and Corolla owners. It probably represents the last opportunity to purchase one of these while they’re still warm because Toyota has broadly hinted that they may not replace the model once it breathes its last in a couple of year’s time. Continue reading “The European D-Sector – So Long, Farewell…Sayonara”
What one remembers often has little to do with what is important. I clearly recall James Ruppert deriding the 1998 Mazda 626 as being a car whose sole claim to fame was that it had the biggest glove box in its class.
This small and apparently modest claim is a good example of the problem of epistemology. That relates to how we know what we know and how much faith we can have in our beliefs. On the face of it, a glovebox is a simple structure with measurable dimensions. It ought to be easy to determine which glove box is biggest.
While pondering the content of this website, I realised I’ve said very little about Mazda. That means it’s time to say why I can’t write about them.
Having typed that, I remembered I devoted some space to the new Miata. Apart from that, I seem to not want to say much about the 3 or the 6 even if they would appear to be quite good cars. If I was in the market for a C-D class car, I ought to go and look at the Mazda 6 and not just go along to Opel and see how much Insignia I could get for my imaginary money. Continue reading “Cars I Can’t Write About: Mazda”
Advertising that mentions potential problems draws customers’ attention to them. Mazda’s advert from 1973 does just this. And it uses weasel wording too.
As I said in the introduction, advertising addresses people’s worries. Just as Rover handled the problem that their 1993 620 saloon was a Honda Accord in tweed (“Above all, it´s a Rover”), this ad from 1978 attacks the common prejudice that Japanese cars were vulnerable to rust. I tried to find one of these cars for sale and found only the precursor to the Mazda 626, the 616 LN. It’s from 1975 and probably the only one left.
Some cars defy one’s capacity to describe or discuss them except in the most general terms. One of them is the 1996 Mazda Demio.
Here at DTW we spend a lot of time staring into the walls trying to fight off the ideas that spring up. The problem is that there are more ideas than time to do them justice. I’ve just blown three hours of my life penning a tract about Buicks and Opels. This was based on half a thought about the Opel Astra saloon that nobody cares about. How then can I Continue reading “Cars I Can’t Write About 1: 1996-2002 Mazda Demio”