Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Is Mazdaspeed Poised to Make a Comeback?


Recently, Takahiro Kobayakawa from Mazda’s Brand Strategy Department in charge of Global Sales and Marketing was in town to discuss about the possibilities of bringing the MX-5 Global Cup into the Philippines. Koby-san, as he’s called, has been with Mazda for 18 years now. And while he’s most recently responsible for the fourth-generation MX-5’s development (particularly in terms of marketability and serviceability), one part of his CV stood out: Mazdaspeed.

Prior to joining Mazda, Koby-san was part of Mazdaspeed, which was then a separate division. Up until 1999, Mazdaspeed delved more into motorsports rather than just simply offering performance-oriented vehicles to regular customers. Since joining in 1993, Koby-san was part of Mazdaspeed’s technical sales providing support to teams running in Super GT, Super Endurance, among others.

When Mazda assumed control of the division in 1999, Koby-san moved to develop a line of accessories under the Mazdaspeed brand for vehicles such as the RX-7 and RX-8. He was then moved to Mazda’s North American operations where he joined the development team responsible for the 267-horsepower Mazdaspeed 3 and the 278-horsepower all-wheel drive Mazdaspeed 6.

Although Koby-san works primarily on Mazda’s grassroots racing efforts such as the MX-5 Global Cup today, Mazdaspeed is a subject that remains close to his heart.

When asked about the possibility of seeing a brand-new Mazdaspeed model based on Mazda’s current vehicle line-up, he sheepishly brought out a brochure of the MX-5, pointing to the aero kit bearing the Mazdaspeed logo.

“Right now, Mazdaspeed is limited to doing appearance kits such as these,” muttered Koby-san as he pointed out the different aero parts available for Mazda’s venerable roadster. “I wish we could do something more, but I don’t know. Ask management,” as he uttered a nervous laugh.

Certainly, Koby-san’s frustrations are shared by Mazda enthusiasts all over the world who’re expecting a high-performance derivative of either the Mazda3 or Mazda6, because they are, after all, driver-oriented cars. Yet, this doesn’t come as a surprise.

In an interview with Australia’s Motoring done in 2016, Mazda’s North American Operations President and CEO Masahiro Moro said that the Hiroshima-based carmaker’s efforts are focused squarely on further refining its Skyactiv technology.

“Our research and development department is 100 percent focused on delivering Skyactiv generation two and if we don't have this we don't have any other derivatives,” Moro told Motoring during that interview.

Moro also dismissed the notion of having a Mazdaspeed3 as “childish” unbefitting of Mazda’s desire to present itself as a more upscale, more sophisticated car company.

Yet, there may be light at the end of the tunnel for Mazdaspeed.

With the confirmation of a turbocharged Mazda6, high-performance may become a part of Mazda once more. However, the execution may differ—it may more mature, more technologically driven. Koby-san himself is pretty pumped up at the possibilities of that announcement. And since Skyactiv II is just around the corner, Koby-san may find himself doing much more than just sticking aero kits on regular Mazda vehicles.

Additional Sources: Motoring

1 comment:

  1. Yes please! I just hope it won't cost as much as the ridiculously priced FF Civic Type R...

    ReplyDelete

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