PCAL – Zoom-Zoom

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EDIT: Here’s another piece from Patrick Callahan. I hope you all enjoy it. – Ben

Right now Scion is having a bit of trouble and no one under the Toyota umbrella seems to know why. They might be able to take a hint from Mazda. Image is great, but it has to be backed up with substance. Although Mazda makes about as many cars in a year as Toyota and its subsidiaries make in roughly a month, they have one of the strongest motorsports programs of any manufacturer and produce some outstanding cars that hit well above their weight.

In the area of motorsport, Mazda is currently (and successfully) involved in ALMS P2, Grand-Am Rolex Series, SPEED Touring Cars, Cooper Tires Atlantic Championship, Pro Formula Mazda, Pro Spec Miata, Grand-Am KONI Challenge, NHRA Sport Compact Racing, Formula D and that doesn’t even touch “amateur” forms of racing. Another assault on the 24 Hours of LeMans might even be in the future. As Mazda is quick to point out, there are more Mazdas road racing on any given weekend than any other marque. All that leaves Mazda with no worries about its identity or credibility with plenty of energy to focus on making great cars.

spec miatas

With the Protege MP3 and Mazdaspeed Protege, Mazda made a valiant attempt at gaining some customers among the tuner crowd. However, I would imagine the lessons learned in trying to sell those cars contributed to what has to be one of the best FWD cars out of a factory ever. Power, practicality, poised handling, sharp lines from the factory at a great price and great tuning potential with basic bolt-ons. This car is a winner, and winning is what it’s all about for Mazda.

MPS3

The whole lineup is actually pretty nice. The MX-5 is a legend for being a driver’s car and the new one is amazingly focused and pure considering the myriad of laws it has to comply with. While the RX-8 seems unloved relative to cars like the 350Z and S2000, it too is a gem with some of the best handling and looks (especially with the Mazdaspeed exterior treatment) coming out of Japan today. The Mazdaspeed 6 is a personal favorite. It doesn’t have the edginess of the WRX or EVO, but it has more refinement and sharper looks than both of those cars combined. Even Mazda’s boring cars are pretty cool and it’s no secret that Mazda’s design language is one of the best in the business.

Even the future seems bright. As other sedans seem to be going for a more bloated, boxier stance, the Mazda 6 is just getting sleeker for its next generation. What this tells me is that Mazda has confidence in what it’s doing and doesn’t need to follow every passing market trend to make great cars. This sort of confidence is easy to see in the recent Furai concept which is just off the chain. Just look at it! It takes risks that even some design houses might not consider, and it does it successfully.

Furai

It’s manufacturers like this that keep our scene going and progressing. While Toyota and Honda seem to be sliding into mainstream homogeny, it’s nice to see a company that is sticking to its values. I’d love to see other makes step up with their racing programs, tuning divisions, basic lineup and performance editions. Now, this isn’t to slam other car makers or say that everyone should go out and buy Mazdas. However, the basic ingredients that go into making a good car also apply to making those cars better. We can learn alot from observing successful car makers and even draw inspiration from what they have done and the direction they are going. Furai inspired RX-8 anyone?

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