Many of us look back on the raucous Mazdaspeed3 and Mazdaspeed6 with fondness, but one of Mazda’s most senior executives thinks the brand has moved on from that kind of rough-around-the-edges performance. In an interview with Australia’s Motoring, Mazda North America president Masahiro Moro called the earlier Mazdaspeed models a “childish execution.”
“As a brand we are trying to elevate again a little bit more, because execution of Mazda MPS or Mazdaspeed3 or whatever you call it was a little bit – I am not afraid to say it – childish,” said Moro.
Mazda has been trying to push itself steadily upmarket into a more sophisticated brand, which means the days of 265 hp combined with front-wheel drive, two fistfuls of torque steer, and tacky red-spotted interior trim are firmly in the rear-view mirror. The way Moro sees it, Mazda is too mature to produce that kind of performance car now, and instead must focus on more upscale models, like the forthcoming CX-9 family crossover.
Motoring reports that the initial plan was to show a Mazdaspeed3 concept at the 2015 Frankfurt show, but that the project was shelved in favor of the Koeru crossover concept that previewed the China-exclusive CX-4. The plan is, essentially, to grow sales and profits with thrify Skyactiv engines and sensible mainstream cars, so a future lineup of Mazdaspeed performance products is possible.
“Our research and development department is 100 per cent focused on delivering [Skyactiv] generation two, and if we don’t have this we don’t have any other derivatives,” said Moro.
We likely won’t see any Mazdaspeed version of the Mazda3 currently on sale, judging by the timeline Mazda is working with. Today’s Mazda3 (BM) was introduced in 2013, which means the next generation (probably dubbed BN) is still likely two years away on its own.
It’s not like there aren’t contingents within Mazda that still want to see Mazdaspeed performance cars. When we spoke to development engineer Dave Coleman about the potential applications of the CX-9’s 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, he smiled and reminded us that while nothing is set in stone, Mazda is an enthusiast brand we should keep our eye on.
When a new Mazdaspeed product eventually arrives, the writing on the wall says it won’t be like we remember it. Mazda rarely disappoints when it comes to making cars for enthusiasts, so we have high hopes that a new, more mature Speed3 would still knock our socks off.