Posts Tagged ‘sussex’

Mazda’s chirpy little MX5, the world’s best selling open-top roadster, is now twenty years. Plenty of reason for that cheeky grin the 2009 model sports.

It’s easy to see why the MX5 has done so well. It appeals to a wide audience (though I’m not a member of that audience), is cheaper than a lot of competitors and it looks pretty good too. In fact, its looks are considered so good that Mazda have given it only 3 adjustments in its two decades of production. Pretty rare in car terms. mazda mx5

But did you know that there’s a special connection between this Mazda and Sussex, England? The small coastal town of Worthing, in fact. This was news to me. Having been through the town many times I would never thought of it as a leading design centre for the automotive industry, especially for a Japanese manufacturer.

Well, the MX5 was designed to compete with those quintessentially British sports cars the MGB, Triumph’s glorious Spitfire and the Lotus Elan. The idea was sprung between a American journalist and engineer Bob Hall and Kenichi Yamamoto.

International Automotive Design in Worthing were commissioned to develop a running prototype based on an idea from Mazda’s California team for a rear-wheel-drive lightweight sports car to give the Japanese firm their own Elan-type car. They named the prototype V705, used a glassfibre body, a 323’s engine and other Mazda components and the car was completed and sent to the states in 1985. There it was driven around Santa Barbara to see what the public reaction was .

Approval for the MX5 was granted in January of ’86 and production plans sprung into action, it was given its name in early ’89 ahead of its Chicago Motor Show launch which, clearly, went down a storm. After all, it’s shifted 857,200 units. Though I still don’t know anyone that owns one of these Mazdas in Sussex or anywhere else.


It was all looking so good for the double chrevrons lately. The new DS line is stying up nicely, the Picasso Spacebox thing looks like an awesomely angular beast and they’ve now designed a supercar too. Then I got an invitiation to head to Uckfield to see the Citroen Nemo Multispace.

Knowing that they’re doing quite well with MPVs lately I was both surprised they needed another one and curious as to the name and looks. I wasn’t expecting a clown fish but then again I was expecting something better looking than what I saw. It’s another one of their MPVs based on the van of the same name – they did it with the Berlingo – and looks like the Fiat Qubo too. It also looks a little less than citroen nemo

With so many people-carriers and mpvs out there now, I would like to think that if they really want this market they’d come up with something with a bit more flair. They’re obviously capable, have been since back in the days of the original DS, so why, in such a saturated market – give us something looks exactly what it is – a van with extra seats and windows.

Yes, there’s practicality but does it need to come at the sacrifice of style? If you need the space you’d get a van, right, if you’re after the extra seating side you’d get the Picasso Spacebox or something else that looked good too.

Would you want this parked on the drive? To be honest I’d park it round the block. Hopefully it’s a stop-gap effort and the last gasp before the newer flashy styling kicks in full swing. I just see it as bland and almost, well – I hate t0 say it, lazy.

The last few  I’ve seen and test-driven (having owned one a few years ago you get the invites) have been very nice and inspiring. I didn’t even want to take this Citroen round Sussex, no matter how nice a day it was. No offence meant guys but sharpen it up – literally.

In need of amusement on one of those work days where nothing seems to get done except further requests filling the inbox, I remembered seeing an advert a few years ago that made me chuckle and thinking it was for a VW, ended up finding this: 

For those that don’t speak Dutch (myself included) the wording reads:  The company that continues, even if you are stopped. 

Or if I’ve got that last word wrong and it’s “gestapt” not gestopt” : The company that keeps going as you are stepped on.

Either way I can’t see where the humour is. It’s clearly designed to be funny but I guess it’s a purely cultural or language-based joke as it’s beyond me.

I’m trying to think of an English equivelant: a van parked up at a Sussex beach in that half-sun half-rain weather selling deck chairs for a fiver only to be outdone by some elderly couple selling them on for £6 from the back of a better, albeit cheaper van?

mazda1While they currently plug away at pushing the new 3 model and announcing how much of a loss they’re expecting to run at for the next year or two, Mazda are still pushing out new models and developing a contender for the smaler car market. Problem is, do the dealers know about it?

Take, for instance the supposedly-forthcoming Mazda1. It’s been testing in France for a while now  – I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled while on my frequent sojourns in Paris – and is rumoured for launch in 2011. A small, city car that could take on the KA and 500 could do Mazda the world of good. 

Yet, when I spoke to a dealer in Sussex about the Mazda 1, there was an uncertain response. Others I’ve spoken to don’t even know about it. Clearly it’s evolved beyond the funk-tastic sketch below to the metal of the motor being tested so isn’t a figment of the motor presses imagination. If it was I think it’d have a much more powerful engine. 


So, could the lack of communication between corporate and dealers – not just in Sussex – be one of Mazda’s issues that needs addressing to secure a healthy future?

I remember reading how much Ford used to talk to dealers about what they wanted in the 70’s when developing new cars and Lotus launched the Evora this year after their new CEO realised that dealers wanted a car they could actually sell rather than a giant supercar. 

Perhaps the coming 18 months will see more awareness overall outside of the motoring press, but surely if you’re in the trade you read the relevent press… it’s a strange one, no?

The new Mazda3 – a car with plenty of potential to reverse Mazda’s ailing sales – launches May 18th over here in the UK. 

Thanks to a handy bit of email marketing from a Sussex Mazda dealer I’m informed that the new ‘3’  has a new look – check out that haping grille – and comes in a choice of seven engines (three of which are diesel), plenty of colour options and can offer me up to 62.8 mpg.Mazda3

It even has that lovely ‘i-stop’ system that met so well with buyers of the Fiat 500, so that the engine stops instead of iddling away all that fuel and ozone. Yet, convinced that they’re doomed this year, Mazda seem to think the only thing that’ll encourage buyers is the finance deals. 

If you can pony up a 50% deposit you can get a nought per cent APR deal over 1,2 oe 3 years and there’s plenty more offers available. Yet… when you consider that right now you can trundle in on your old wreck and get £2000 toward a new Mazda3, which’ll surely help toward a healthy deposity, how are Mazda expecting to make any money on this, or, indeed, ever? 

While I’m all for getting the most for my money when it comes to my cars, surely there’s plenty of other elements to sell this car – the looks, the stop-start technology, the economy factors and the 2k scrappage deal, without dropping the financial carrot to lure buyers too? 

I dunno about you, but I’m always weary of a desperate seller. Shame, because it’s a cracking little car by the look of it.

The Japanese car manufacturer Mazda have joined the sadly long line of automakers that are posting losses for the last financial year. For the year ending March, the Hiroshima-based company announced a $535 million loss compared to the 65.2 billion yean profit the previous year.

With a 27% fall in sales, Mazda only shifted 1.26 million calrs yet they’re predicted another year of loss and fewer sales with questions over their future looming like so many clouds.2009 mazda mx5

But… is this the wrong attitude. It looks bleak but look at Fiat. Their CEO came out swinging punches a few months ago damning those car companies that announce expected failure for the coming year and they’re poised to become a global car giant before the year is even half way through. 

Yes they had the 500 and Alfa’s MiTo but Mazda have got a couple of new cars that also threaten to be the right car at the right time. This year will see the release of the much-anticipated new Mazda3 and there’s a new look on the face of the much loved MX-5. 

I’ve seen the new MX-5, and while I’ve never been a fan of the roadster (unlike the millions that own one) I saw the new Mazda by the Sussex beach this weekend and I think it has the potential to inject some new blood into sales of the open-top. 

From the images and stat’s I’ve seen on the new Mazda3 it too looks like a car with potential for huge popularity. Cheap to buy and run and as quirky looking as any Alfa out there on the roads too. There’s also the Mazda1 that’s rumoured to be hitting the road soon, why are they putting so much into these cars only to say – ‘yeah, but we’re gonna lose this year too’ ?’

What happened to fighting spirit in car companies? Or any business for that matter. Now is the time for Mazda to say “yes, 2008 was a rough year but we’ve got two exciting new faces on the forecourt this year that you’re going to love.” How can they expect to triumph with a negative attitude, I don’t mean to sound cliched but turn that frown upside down before even the cars lose their famous smile.