Mazda doesn’t have the largest slice of the global market share for automobiles, but where it lacks in volume, it makes up for in human craftsmanship and a unique design process, as well as an emotional attachment to its customers.
Driven by a Japanese philosophy referred to as “Hashiru Yorokobi” — loosely translated to exhilaration, joy and well-being — Mazda has crafted a line of vehicles that not only invoke emotion, but are definitely fun to drive.
The team at Mazda recently invited us out to San Diego, Calif. for a relaxing stay at the luxurious Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa… and allowed us to get some behind the wheel time with their latest models: the 2017 CX-5 and 2017 MX-5 Miata RF.
After a evening dinner on the resort’s beautiful Croquet Lawn, where we got a first look at each vehicle, we met with the brand’s team the next morning… who gave us a brief history about the company and their unique approach to design.
Here’s a few interesting tidbits about Mazda, you may not know:
- It was founded in Hiroshima, Japan in 1920 as a cork company.
- The company first began manufacturing three-wheeled trucks by WWII, just four months after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
- Mazda’s 1967 Cosmo Sport was the world’s first rotary engine-powered sports car.
- Mazda’s 787B won the 1991 Le Mans, becoming the first (and so far the only) Japanese manufacturer to win.
- The Mazda MX-5 Miata is the best-selling roadster in the world.
Immediately after our morning meeting, media paired up and hit the road for a two-hour journey through SoCal, where we ended up at the Temecula Olive Oil Company for a tasting of… well, olive oil (can’t drink wine and drive) and mid-day lunch under the olive trees.
Before arriving, however, we were behind the wheel of the MX-5 Miata RF. While the tiny two-seater isn’t the most practical car, it’s a whole lotta fun to drive. It’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine pushes out a respectable 155 hp, but being that it weighs in at just over 2,445 lbs., it has plenty of pep.
The Miata also has a lot of features, too. There’s standard Bluetooth, a Bose audio system with nine speakers, rain-sensing wipers, and a ton of safety features — including rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring, just to name a few. It also has a power folding hardtop that closes in just 13 seconds… and doesn’t add much weight either. The Mazda teams says it weighs about the same as a small child… WOAH!
Here’s another interesting piece of info about the Miata. The 2017 “Launch Edition” was released in a limited run of just 1,000 units — it sold out in just one week. Mazda offered special treatment to the brand enthusiast that ordered the first unit too, when they delivered his at the L.A. Auto Show.
On the way back to the resort, we got into the ultra-comfy 2017 CX-5. The compact crossover SUV has been a success for the Mazda brand… and after driving it, we can understand why. It’s got all the bells and whistles… and feels like a high-end luxury SUV, but at just a fraction of the price. This is just one of the reasons why Mazda has so many brand loyalists.
The CX-5 boasts a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, pushing 187 hp. Features include heated and cooled seats, a Windshield-projected Active Driving Display (with Traffic Sign Recognition), a full-color touchscreen display, standard rearview camera, reclining rear seats… and a heated steering wheel! JEEZ!!
We’re not going to get into heavy detail here, but starting at just over $24,000 USD, the CX-5 is well worth the money. It’s safe to say we were impressed.
On the final evening, we gathered with the Mazda team for some tequila tasting at Rancho Valencia’s Sunrise Terrace, where designers also allowed us to create our own Mazda vehicle with a clay model.
It was a memorable few days. After seeing the passion, detail and emotion behind the Mazda brand, we walked away with a new appreciation for what they do… and understand why customers are so loyal.
If you are looking for more about Mazda, make sure to check out their blog here, where they tell behind the scenes stories and dive deeper into their history. Or, if you’re ready to cop a Mazda yourself, head to the main website here.
Special thanks to the Mazda team for the hospitality!