Mazda has recently divorced itself from Ford, where a cross-platform partnership greatly benefited both companies. Now that Mazda is a free agent of sorts, it does have an uphill battle remaining relevant in very crowded automotive market.
The first of its independently designed vehicles, the Mazda CX-5, is a tidy compact crossover vehicle. It’s subtle yet athletic styling gives it a special elegance that is usually absent from the segment. For 2014 Mazda introduced another Skyactiv motor—Skyactiv being Mazda’s new fuel-efficient engine lineup that is spreading across all its models.
Mazda’s next introduction was an all-new Mazda 6. Competing in an already crowded segment that has perennial bestsellers like the Honda Accord and the beautifully styled Ford Fusion, Mazda was able to design a sedan that not only stands out, but makes a great case for being a driver’s car.
The Skyactiv motors proliferate throughout the 6’s offerings, along with rumors of a diesel that may or may not hit American models. A manual transmission is offered and combine that with Mazda’s amazing ability to design a competent and engaging chassis, and the 6 is clearly a standout in the normally sedate mid-size market.
The newest edition to Mazda’s lineup is the Mazda 3 sedan and hatchback. Competing against the Ford Focus, the segments current benchmark, Mazda has essentially created a four-door Miata, which says a lot. Packed with technologies like heads-up display and push-button start, the Mazda 3 takes a higher class of materials and brings them into an affordable package. Offered with two engines, a manual transmission will soon be offered across the entire lineup—essential in a vehicle so elegantly designed.
The next-gen Mazda Miata is rumored at being co-developed with Alfa Romeo. What synergies will come from the partnership are still under wraps, but it can almost be guaranteed that Mazda will not let the greatest sportscar deviate from its successful formula.
Mazda’s partnership with Alfa Romeo is just the beginning for the company as it navigates the harsh waters of independence.
Past the Miata, Mazda’s revitalization is a mystery. The Mazda 2, 5, and CX-9 all still need to be updated by Mazda, though those are not essential to Mazda’s brand image inasmuch as the 3 and 6.
While Mazda is making great cars despite its relatively small size as an automaker, it does face great challenges. Mazda is a global company, but due to its size, it has difficulty reaching customers due to its smaller dealer network. That’s why Mazda’s partnership with Ford helped the company remain successful during the Great Recession.
Mazda’s partnership with Alfa Romeo is just the beginning for the company as it navigates the harsh waters of independence. It will be interesting to see where Mazda ends up as continues to produce amazingly balanced vehicles that are not only fun to drive and stick to the ethos of Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” campaign, but are fuel efficient while offering great amounts of technology for an affordable price. It is a winning combination that any automaker would like to have in its stock, so it will be interesting to see who comes to Mazda’s aid.