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Mazda - Does it have a good future in US?

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  • knhillknhill Posts: 33
    As a Miata driver and RX-7 fan, I have always appreciated the performance aspect of Mazda. I think the kind of performance that Mazda offers isn't what most American drivers look for - which is what happens when the driver floors the gas pedal. I think this explains Nissan's current resurgence in popularity. Nissan has gone with displacement, dropping a torquey 3.5 V6 in everything they make.

    It certainly seems to me Ford lowered the quality level of Mazda. The auto trannys and the rebadged Fords do not have good reputations. When Americans buy Japanese they are looking to escape the reliability nightmare that descended on detroit. Mazda needs to go in the Honda direction, not the Ford direction when it comes to quality.

    The volume point (excluding trucks) for any auto maker is the midsize sedan. This is where the makers get market penetration and brand recognition - the horrible marketing realities that determine who succeeds and who fails in this business. While Ford, Honda, and Toyota can sell upwards of 400k midsize sedans per year, Mazda has struggled to sell 50k. The last 626 had nothing - not style, not performance, not reliability, not anything.

    The Millenia was a nice package when it arrived, after Mazda backed off starting their upscale brand, Amati, and sold the Millenia as a loaded Mazda. But it was expensive and very dated when retired.

    Mazda got my attention again with the latest Protege. Performance (to me that means "tossability"), style, and reliability. I see a fair number of them around and think Mazda has achieved reasonable market penetration with them, although I don't know the sales figures compared to the competitors. I hope Ford does not ruin the Mazda 3.

    The Mazda 6 has also scored for me for the same reasons. But I don't know if it will sell in America. I don't think it has the size Americans demand. Americans have fat bodies and lots of stuff to move around. It also may not be torquey enough. We will see. I sure don't see many on the road more than 6 months after they hit the dealer lots. I can't spit without hitting a new Accord, which has only been out 2 months longer.

    I give the RX-8 high points for performance, but I think they missed the mark on style. And also, the torque issue rears it's ugly head again. I predict the 350Z will trounce it.

    My Mazda dealer in Raleigh, NC has been great. I think that is the exception to the rule when it comes to Mazda dealers.

    The optimist in me thinks the darkest days are over at Mazda. The realist in me doubts Mazda will ever be a big player here, but believes it can carve out and keep a performance-oriented niche. The cynic in me is expecting a rebadged Expedition any day now. With boy-racer ground effects all around and a big wing on the back.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    I agree with most of your points. I think it's kind of sad that Mazda isn't more successful. They seem to be doing more right than wrong, but it almost seems that it doesn't matter. From what I've read, the Mazda6 was kind of a make it or break it vehicle line for Mazda. Despite excellent reviews, it still isn't selling. There is so much to the US auto market that doesn't make sense. For most people, SUVs make absolutely NO SENSE AT ALL to own.

    IMO, if you could look at the American car buying public as one entity, I would say it's 90% brain dead. I have absolutely no confidence in the intelligence of the American public with regards to automobiles. Surprisingly, the internet hasn't seemed to help. Most people don't know jack about cars and most people don't know what Mazda is all about.
  • jay108jay108 Posts: 52
    I hate the Cavalier because National Car Rental made me drive one for $53.00/day AND they classified it as an 'intermediate', I was furious, it was a total penalty box. When I pay intermediate rates I expect an intermediate.

    Back to Mazda: They make pretty decent stuff, I just think most people already prefer other makes and just won't consider Mazda. Too many manufactures in the car business. Maybe they should try the Korean warranty angle 10yr/100,000 miles. I think the Korean took Mazda's customer for mundane low cost wheels.
  • jay108jay108 Posts: 52
    I hate the Cavalier because National Car Rental made me drive one for $53.00/day AND they classified it as an 'intermediate', I was furious, it was a total penalty box. When I pay intermediate rates I expect an intermediate. I also hated the Cav because it was sort of an orange color.

    Back to Mazda: They make pretty decent stuff, I just think most people already prefer other makes and just won't consider Mazda. Too many manufactures in the car business. Maybe they should try the Korean warranty angle 10yr/100,000 miles. I think the Koreans took Mazda's customer for mundane low cost wheels.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    "I think the Koreans took Mazda's customer for mundane low cost wheels."

    The current Mazda lineup isn't "mundane low cost wheels".
  • the_big_hthe_big_h Posts: 1,583
    exactly.

    heck, even Protege DX's are very nice cars...
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    I would hope Mazda could sell a BUNCH of RX-8s (and any other rotary performance car they come up with) to the super-high-rev VTEC crowd that loves the little Hondas so much. For me, that and tossability are all that matter in a sport coupe - nose-heavy torque-rich V-6s do nothing for me (well, at least, not much - I was a big fan of the last Supra). Plus, Honda does not have a 2+2 sport coupe this powerful - only sedans in the Acura line...if they would only get the word out there with a good mix of advertising, they could probably sell RX-8s so fast they could not keep up with demand.

    2 problems: (1) Mazda "acts niche" - little dealer presence, little advertising (2) the 350Z makes an obvious competitor (and the new Supra in 18 months or so) with more hp at a lower price.

    Oh yeah, and howzabout let's stop with the darn cavalier thing! Protege and cavalier cannot be compared in any context, they are so far apart.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • jay108jay108 Posts: 52
    I do think the Tribute is pretty good, see a fair number around here. And the new 6 might fly.

    Maybe 'mundane' is a bit strong, I just don't think they have products that make lookers into buyers.
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    you are right, Mazda has products that turn drivers into buyers. Try one, I dare ya...
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    It's not that "mundane" is too strong a word, it's that it's the wrong word entirely. Mundane means ordinary, dull, routine, everyday, commonplace, boring, unexciting, etc. That describes Toyota, not Mazda.
  • hjr2hjr2 Posts: 105
    Here is NHSTA compacts for 03. Where did you get your information saying otherwise?
    http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/testing/ncap/Cars/2003Cmpt.html

    they got 4 and 5 stars all around.
  • jay108jay108 Posts: 52
    I think Mazda (and Mitsubishi for that matter) are getting squeezed by Toyota, Honda and lately Nissan. While there products are okay, they just aren't converting buyers from other brands. And the low cost buyers are shopping at Hyundai and Kia.
    Back in the late '80s lots of my friends were buying 323s and 626s, no more they shop else where, I'm not sure why.
    I state that I'm loyal to Toyota/Honda/Nissan for the forseeable future. (My Pontiac Vibe is actully made by Toyota).

    FWIW Subaru seems to be more viable than Mazda at least here in PA, mostly because they don't go head to head with the bigger companies, they sell to their strength..
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    "While there products are okay"

    "I think the Koreans took Mazda's customer for mundane low cost wheels."

    PERCEPTION. Anyone who KNOWS Mazdas should realize that their offerings aren't simply "okay" and they are certainly not "mundane". Obviously, anyone who thinks that the Mazda line-up is ho-hum doesn't really know too much about Mazda and doesn't read too many car magazines. How someone could call the Miata, Protege, Mazda6, and RX8 "mundane" and "okay" is beyond me and proves that Mazda has a problem with how the public perceives their vehicles.
  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    Not true. A few years ago I had an 89 Tercel that I drove for 1.5-2 years until 99. VERY reliable, well put together, not fun to drive, slow, tipsy in corners - lots of body roll. This was a cheap car and served me well while finishing high school, BUT it never made me smile when driving it.

    Next car that I kept for 2 years was a 93 Civic. Looked nice and drove very well. Would have kept it for many more years if it didn't blow 2 head gaskets and a cylinder head before it reached 78K miles. I was a HUGE Honda fan, but this car tamed me a bit.

    Figuring out this was a money pit, I cleaned it up really well (not to see the oil it leaked and rust that was already making holes above the wheel wells), and sold it for $6.000 CAD. Yes Hondas have GREAT resale value and I found a buyer in a couple of days.

    When I decided to buy new in 2001, I test drove EVERYTHING - some Daewoo, Elantra, Cavalier, Focus, Sentra, Accord, Civic, Accent, Neon. At that time Toyota was selling the previous design Corolla which was unbearable to live with so I didn't even bother. I was trying to decide b/w the Sentra and the Civic (the Sentra was winning b/c of price), when I just stopped at a Mazda dealer not to say I didn't drive EVERYTHING on the market. 10 minutes in a Protege won me over. I will never forget how the PRO felt worlds apart from the competition in terms of a quality interior, value for $ paid, and most important of all: FUN TO DRIVE!!! No other car made me smile - they were all as exciting as looking at my fridge or having meaningful conversations with my toaster.

    Needless to say we ordered the PRO a few days after that test drive. I have not been disappointed yet. This car is THE most fun to drive under $25K CAD (including our 15% sales tax and my 2.9% 48mths financing, freight, etc...).

    Dinu
    Mazda Convert for Life

    -----------------------------
    If Mazda can get people to test drive their cars, they would sell. But like you said, many would not look at Mazda just b/c they don't know about it. This is THE car that made me a car enthusiast.

    Zoom-Zoom!
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,328
    Yeah - there's you r problem in a nutshell. It's not product - it's marketing.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,890
    ...funny you'd mention a Civic blowing head gaskets! Some friends of mine bought a Civic EX back in '94, partly on my recommendation. They wanted a small car, and asked my opinion, and that was the one I would've chosen back then.

    Anyway, head gasket #1 blew around 40K miles. #2, around 80K or so. At some point, the a/c also went out.

    As for Mazda and their image, well it's just going to take time. For most of the '90's, the Protege was really nothing more than a Ford Escort or a Mercury Tracer. Sure, they had their differences, and maybe Mazda did enough to it to make their version better, but they were all the same basic platform. That probably hurt Mazda's perception to a lot of people. Then there was the 626. The last time it was even remotely exciting was back when it looked like a Camry! I'd guess that was around 1992. The 929 and Millenia barely moved enough units to register on the sales charts.

    About the only thing they had that was exciting was the RX-7, which hasn't been around for years now, and the Miata, which has a stigma to it.

    Then there's the trucks...nothing but rehashed Ford products, for the most part. Or even if not, that's the perception they give.

    The Protege has made a turnaround recently, and is starting to look like a promising little car. Normally I don't like wagons, but I even liked the little Pro5! The 6 shows some promise, as well, and the RX-8 looks interesting. So things are starting to turn around for Mazda, but things rarely happen overnight in the auto industry!
  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    It seems older Civics and Integras LOVE head gaskets. I was shopping for amn early 90s car 2 mths ago for my cousin and we were looking at Integras and Maximas and guess what? About 1/2 of the Integras had a new rad (something that also failed in my Civic) and a new head gasket.

    Honda has some pretty bad cooling systems back then.

    Dinu

    PS: Oh yeah, the AC went out too in 2001, but had just enough Freon in it to keep cooling the car - slowly mind you. My cousin's Integra does the same.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    "For most of the '90's, the Protege was really nothing more than a Ford Escort or a Mercury Tracer."

    Actually, for the most part of the 90's, the Ford Escort and Mercury Tracer were really nothing more than a Mazda Protege, not the other way around. By saying that the Protege was a rebadged Escort or Tracer, you'd think Ford developed the chassis and engines. Most of the Tracers and Escorts had the cheesy Ford 1.9L, not Mazda's 1.8L which was ten times better. No Protege had a Ford sourced engine and all of them were built in Japan unlike the Escort and Tracer.
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    is the folks who got the 1.8 in their Escort swore by their car's reliability; rightly so. If they only had of known...
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    That just kills me when I hear things like that. This whole time andre has been thinking that the Protege was a re-badged Escort.

    "That probably hurt Mazda's perception to a lot of people."

    What hurt Mazda was car guys like you thinking Proteges are rebadged Escorts. In this case, it's misinformation that hurt Mazda the most. How many people would be turned off if they thought that the Protege was the same as an Escort? They had different interiors, different engines, different styling, and were assembled in different places. The chassis was developed by Mazda, not Ford. The Protege has always been a Japanese built and engineered car, NOT a gussied up Escort.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    is certainly true: AWD AWD AWD. They went so far as to cancel all non-AWD models and trims.

    Mazda NEEDS TO DO THIS. They need to figure out what their strengths are (I would say sport/performance/rotary) and offer JUST THAT. Then get lots more of those zoom-zoom commercials out there.

    How sporty is a minivan or a pick-up? Both sell slowly - DUMP THEM.

    Make Tribute faster (suspension and engine), make it look the part.

    Make a high-power rotary at least an optional engine for all the smaller models. Especially Miata. This car cries out for a high-power rotary to compete with other more expensive roadsters for power - Mazda could charge a multi-thousand $$ premium for this engine and people would pay it.

    On a personal note, I would love it if they would build more hatchbacks again like they used to.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • the_big_hthe_big_h Posts: 1,583
    it's a minivan that's actually *gasp* fun to drive!

    and the only minivan I would ever consider!
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    is you can make them very luxurious to compete with luxury cars, but you can't really make them sporty, which by very definition they are not!

    (big, heavy, high center of gravity)

    And MPVs, in particular, sell pretty slowly.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    How sporty is a minivan or a pick-up? Both sell slowly - DUMP THEM.

    Actually, drive an MPV the same day as you drive a Caravan or Odyssey and you will see huge difference. The MPV is a sporty version of the mini-van and we love ours. Also, MPV sales are not that bad. As far as the rebadged Ranger goes, Mazda will probably drop it from the line-up as it really doesn't fit the image.

    ...Miata. This car cries out for a high-power rotary to compete with other more expensive roadsters for power...

    Expect a MazdaSpeed turbo version early next year.

    I would love it if they would build more hatchbacks again like they used to.

    I agree completely! Especially ones that look as sweet as the Mazda6 hatchback. The problem is that the buying public generally doesn't go for hatchbacks in the US.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,890
    ...yes, the Protege came first. Actually, the 323 and Mercury-badged Tracer came first. When the Escort was redone around '91 or '92, it became a Mazda design. Ford didn't have much input, although they snuck some of their engines and trannies, and other components in. But it's the same basic car, whether you bought a Protege, Escort, or Tracer throughout most of the 90's.

    I worded it wrong, but didn't mean it to sound like Ford built the car for Mazda. It was the other way around. Still, for most of the 90's, they were all mainly just cheap, basic transportation, regardless of what those who sit behind the wheel and whisper "Zoom-Zoom" might think.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    the smaller crossovers that are becoming so popular are really nothing more than four-door hatchbacks, so I have high hopes for the resurgence of the hatchback in America. But this is less crucial for Mazda.

    What is crucial is emphasizing strengths, one of which is this new RENESIS rotary that they have spent so much time an money developing. Given that, why on earth would they want to spend more money developing a turbo-charged engine for the Miata? Just modify the Miata enough to put the rotary in it! This engine is a short, small engine anyway...I would imagine it would not take much to put it in the same place the 4-cyl sits now, and it is designed for a RWD powertrain.

    This is what I mean about Mazda marketing and design - they should emphasize their uniqueness more, especially when it concerns the inherent strength of the rotary engine. Anyone can turbo-charge an engine.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,890
    they moved about 2413 of them in March. In contrast, the sales leader Dodge Caravan moved 29,671, while the Honda Odyssey sold 13,967. In 3rd place, the Town & Country, with 13,307.

    The MPV is definitely a niche vehicle. As long as Mazda isn't losing a ton of money on them, I'd say leave it alone. In YTD sales through March 31, it's stayed about the same, ~6400 units., compared to the year before (source: www.autosite.com)
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    The Miata will be moving to the platform that the RX-8 is built on so who knows what drivetrain it will get. Fingers are crossed for rotary. HOWEVER, the Miata still remains the quintessential entry level sportscar. Shifting its simplicity to something 'bigger and better' could hurt its image.

    Yes, the turbo is a quick hit and could even be a way for Mazda to get some early reaction to increasing power and of course, price.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    Semantics, misinformation, whatever you want to call it, it hurts Mazda's sales.

    I remember a while back there was a mentally challenged Honda salesman on the Mazda6 threads here on Edmunds telling people that the Mazda6 was a rebadged Taurus. Where does this misinformation come from? Out of thin air? A secret Honda propaganda campaign? It doesn't really matter. How many customers did this dense Honda salesman misinform about the Mazda6? How many didn't know any better?
  • mdaffronmdaffron Posts: 4,421
    That's all it took.

    Twelve years later, I'm on my third Protege (I totaled the first one, a '92 LX, and walked out of it, and was so impressed with how that car saved my life I took my insurance check and bought another one, which I drove 83,000 miles before trade-in). We recently bought my wife a Protege5.

    My current Protege is a 2000 ES 5-speed and it's a blast to drive. I still grin from ear-to-ear every time I get behind the wheel even though I've had this one three years and 56,000 miles this month.

    This car is the ONLY one in its segment that fits me. I'm a big guy, 6-1 and 270 pounds -- yet this car is the ONLY one among the Civics, Corollas, Focuses, Elantras and Sentras (and even Jettas) of the world where my driver's seat is NOT all the way back on its tracks, and I can actually get out of my driver's seat, get in the back seat, and sit behind the driver's seat without having my knees for lunch!

    Oh, did I mention that not one of my Proteges has ever visited the shop for anything other than routine maintenance? Reliability and Zoom Zoom! What more could you ask for?

    To all here who may be passing judgment on Mazda sight-unseen, or who purchased one of its competitor's cars without having driven one: You don't know what you're talking about, and in the end it's your loss for driving a car without spirit.

    Car and Driver summed up the Protege best in two reviews, one from the early 90s and one from 2000:

    "This is the car enthusiast's small car."
    "BMW verve for less than half the price. What's not to like?"

    Drive one. Then you'll see what that little kid's talking about.

    Meade
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