The days of delightfully fast Mazdaspeed cars are over, reports Roadshow. An unnamed Mazda spokesperson told Roadshow that the Mazdaspeed brand just doesn’t fit with Mazda’s current aspirations to become a more premium, luxury automaker.
For years, Mazda’s raison d’etre “zoom-zoom” has been the reason why so many enthusiasts have touted the virtues of its cars. They make reasonably priced cars that are a genuine delight to drive. They’ve been a big supporter of grassroots racing in the past, and for better or for worse, the MX-5 is all but the default vehicle to get started in autocross or track days.
As Mazda themselves reiterate whenever they launch a new car, they haven’t given up on their mission to make fun cars to drive, and their newer cars are still quite good accordingly. It’s just that the temptation to slap bigger turbos on cars for sick, tunable raw speed isn’t part of it.
The Mazda spokesperson told Roadshow at a question-and-answer session for media:
Mazda is focused on becoming more mature and upscale. It is our priority to continue to evolve the next generation of Skyactiv Technologies. As part of this evolution, we are refining and applying our turbocharged engines to more models to provide better, stronger performance with engaging driving dynamics.
Anyone who remembers the good ol’ JDM days of Mazda’s sporty luxury Eunos brand knows that this excuse is as lame as it gets. Luxury automakers routinely position their highest-performance models at the top of the range, and there’s no reason why they would have to abandon Mazdaspeed for good. If that was the case, I triple-dog-dare you to call something a Cadillac CTS-V or BMW M4 “not a luxury car” to the owner’s face.
Maybe they’ll come to their senses and bring Mazdaspeed (or something like it) back if the upcoming 250-horsepower 2021 Mazda3 Turbo is a hit. That car is just shy power-wise of the 263-hp Mazdaspeed3 of yore, and there’s no reason why Mazda should start from scratch on its image when it could simply refine its zoom-zoom cred.
The spokesperson also reiterated to Roadshow that they’re not abandoning their mission to produce great driving cars and will certainly continue to develop performance cars, but it certainly sounds like the next tuner-favorite Mazdaspeed3, Mazdaspeed MX-5 or Mazdaspeed6—at least with “Mazdaspeed” in the name—isn’t on the way.
Granted, that news isn’t exactly unexpected at this point. Executives have said “no” to bringing back Mazdaspeed for years at this point, with Mazda’s North American head calling the sub-brand “childish” in 2016. The whole about-face on their most fun vehicles still feels like a slap in the face to Mazda’s biggest evangelists, though. If you call your speed-lovin’ audience a bunch of children, will they still want to recommend your cars?
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