Category Archives: Mazda

2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring Review

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Believe it or not, making a sports car is a cake walk compared to making a family sedan. As the number one most competitive car market in the US, the family car competition is hotly contested with contenders from every mainstream manufacturer. For decades, Honda and Toyota have reigned supreme, although in the last few years, their title as best sellers has been lessened. One of the reasons for this is Mazda’s midsize sedan, the 6. As a replacement for the aging and uninspiring 626, the 2003 Mazda6 ushered Mazda into a new era (as did the smaller 3 sedan/hatch the following year). Prior to 2002, Mazda was a very different manufacturer. Instead of prioritizing style and driving enjoyment, its approach was very similar to Kia and Hyundai at the time: affordable and basic transportation. Unfortunately, this approach meant that Mazdas were humdrum (with the exception of the Miata and RX-7). With this in mind, Mazda started completely renovating its entire lineup with sportiness in mind. The first generation Mazda6 debuted in 2003, and it was praised highly by critics alike. Accolades were given to its youthful styling, spirited performance, excellent handling, and the availability of manual transmissions with every engine. Truth be told, it was perceived as a sedan version of the Miata. However, this did not translate into sales success. It sold well, but it couldn’t hold a candle to the Toyota Camry or the Honda Accord. The reason being? It was simply too small and narrow for American tastes, which is not surprising considering the first generation 6 was very popular in Europe (where smaller cars are more welcomed). The 2008-2012 second generation remedied the size issue, but in the process, it lost the handling in exchange for more space. Even with this approach, it still did not sell well (relatively). In 2013, Mazda redesigned the 6 sedan with an emphasis on driving enjoyment, fuel efficiency, and style.  Continue reading

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2011 Mazda3 S Grand Touring Review

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I never understood why Americans are against hatchbacks. My family and I travel often to other countries, and in Asia and Europe, hatchbacks are the norm. Even in Australia and New Zealand, hatchbacks generally sell more than sedans. So why does America have an adverse reaction to hatchbacks? I have no clue. One time, in a store parking lot. I pointed out a nice Audi A3 hatchback, and I said to my sister, “Look at that A3, isn’t that a sweet ride?” Her reply? “Ew. It’s a hatchback.” I am baffled. Logic dictates that we should prefer hatchbacks over sedans because they provide better cargo space and more versatility and in some cases, they tend to look better than their sedan counterparts. Such is the case with the second generation Mazda3. Replacing the Protege (called the Familia overseas), the 2004 Mazda3 was the start of a new era for Mazda. No longer a company of humdrum and ordinary vehicles, Mazda placed emphasis on sporty driving experiences and styling which started with the first 3. The first generation Mazda3 was a blistering success, and it was the car that pulled Mazda out of obscurity. It was renowned for its blend of enjoyable handling, quick performance, excellent fuel economy, and its design. I reviewed two first generation 3s, the high performance hatchback, Mazdaspeed3 and a sedan. I was impressed as they provided the driving experience of a BMW but for half the price. In 2009, the second generation debuted as a 2010 model. I also had the opportunity to review one, but it was an automatic transmission sedan. However, this car is a hatchback with a manual transmission. Which begs the question; would I like the hatchback configuration better than the sedan?  Continue reading

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2008 MazdaSpeed3 Review

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As a successor to the Protege, the Mazda3 launched in 2004 showcasing Mazda’s new design language and nomenclature. Before 2003, Mazda’s lineup was filled with pleasant but humdrum cars such as the Protege, MPV, Millenia, 626, Tribute, and so on. Starting in the late 1990s, Ford had a controlling stake in Mazda, and the two cooperated on future vehicles’ developments. With Ford’s resources and funding, Mazda had the opportunities to completely revamp its lineup. Numerical names would be used for its models (at least in Europe and North America), and Mazda set about reinventing itself. The Mazda3 and Mazda6 were the results. The Mazda3 (Called the Axela in Asia), developed with Ford alongside the Ford Focus and Volvo S40, embodied European styling and handling in a fuel efficient and affordable package. As a result, it was a success and garnered rave reviews worldwide. The Mazda3 chassis had the capability for more power, so Mazda saw fit to produce a Mazdaspeed variant of the 3. Mazda’s niche division, Mazdaspeed, produced a version of the Protege, which gained mechanical and visual tweaks enough to transform it into a sporty small sedan. This time, instead of a sedan body style, the Mazdaspeed3 would be a hatchback in order to please European buyers. In Europe, hot hatches, vehicles with fast power and sporty handling combined with the practicality and comfort of a hatchback, were popular. I have reviewed both the first and second generation Mazda3s (both sedans), so I was keen to try out these Mazdaspeed version. This is not your ordinary Mazda3.Whereas the top of the line version of the Mazda3 had up to 160 horsepower with a five speed manual transmission, the Mazdaspeed3 had racier exterior tweaks, and a turbocharged 263 horsepower four cylinder with a six speed manual transmission. Sounds like a hoot to me. Continue reading

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2005 Mazda3 S Review

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Zoom Zoom! That is the feeling that you think of when it comes to this car. The history of the Mazda3 goes all the way back to the late 1970’s. It all started with the Mazda GLC. The GLC was Mazda’s smallest offering, and at a time when competitors were moving to front wheel drive, it was notable for its rear wheel drive. The GLC was replaced by the 323 in 1986. The 323 was praised for its Germanic handling and quick powertrain, and an all wheel drive turbocharged 323 GTX was launched. Replacing the 323 in 1990, the Protege shared the 323’s fun to drive nature but also was one of the most roomiest and comfortable car of its class. Finally, the 3 replaced the Protege in 2004. This time, the Mazda3 shared a platform with the European Ford Focus, and it marked a new era for Mazda. The Mazda3 places emphasis on driving pleasure and looks. Continue reading

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2009 Mazda3 S Grand Touring Review

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“If a car’s not worth driving, it’s not worth building” This motto completely describes Mazda as a company. Mazda prides itself on driving enjoyment, as reflected by the availability of the manual transmission on all its cars  including the 5 minivan, CX9 excepted and its focus on sheer driving enjoyment. Mazda strayed from its ordinary mainstream image as soon as it adopted a numerical naming scheme for its cars. The Mazda3 replaced the mundane looking but somewhat fun to drive Protege, while the 6 replaced the forgettable 626. Ford and Mazda shared an operating agreement that Ford would use Mazda’s engines and chassis, while Mazda would get Ford’s facilities. The deal fell through a year or two ago. There were reports that Mazda would go under. Mazda is a small company that builds cars in Japan, which is less than ideal due to the yen and the cost of transporting the cars across the sea. Mazda came through. How? Two words: KODOS, and SKYACTIV. These two terms represent Mazda’s comeback. Mazda adopted a new design language and new fuel efficient engines and transmissions, which has propelled Mazda to the spotlight in terms of design, engineering, and driving performance. The CX5, 6, and the newly launched 3 are examples of this company’s rejuvenation. Continue reading

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