Mazda history: successful models – La Gazzetta dello Sport


One hundred years of history represented by the most popular cars of the Japanese house

Alessandro Pinto

A century of Mazda history, passed from industrial cork to cars after overcoming the devastation caused by the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The rebirth after the tragedy, driven by the inseparable bond between the city and its people. People ready to face up to one hundred years of engineering challenges for an industrial history that has always been used to climbing. Mazda models as snapshots of a journey in search of the balance between style and innovative technical solutions, for driving pleasure in which pure power has almost never been the fundamental element. The corporate “Defy convention” has its roots in cars remembered as polarizing examples of bold choices, often in contrast with those of Japanese and European competition.

Mazda: from Cosmo Sport to SUVs

The Hiroshima home was the only home to believe in the development of the Wankel rotary engine, sustained for decades before the milestone reached on June 23, 1991 which earned it the victory in the 24 hours of Le Mans. A success preceded by models such as the 1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport and Mazda RX-7, icons capable of reflecting on the aesthetic level that sportiness so different on the mechanical level. Two years before the Le Mans triumph in 1989, the MX-5 myth was born. The mechanical base in this case was and has remained traditional, but the economic and fun roadsters had almost completely disappeared after the decline of the British sports cars of the 1960s, which inspired Mazda executives set up by the American journalist Bob Hall. Since then, four versions, with well over one million units sold that are worth the best-selling two-seater sports record in history. Also in the new millennium, important crossroads on Mazda’s path were not lacking, which overcame the crisis that culminated with Ford’s disengagement thanks to a renewed range meeting the needs of the current market, without sacrificing original style and driving pleasure. The 2010 Shinari concept car presents Kodo design to the world, an aesthetic philosophy that makes reflections on the bodywork an element of personality. Series production came in 2012 with the first generation of the medium SUV CX-5 and its proportions built around movement, not just the physical occupation of space. The evolution of Kodo design passes through other key models such as Mazda CX-3, Mazda 3 and the latest CX-30, with the last two custodians of the new motoring challenge undertaken with the SkyActiv-X engine. At the same time, Mazda went against the current, ignoring the downsizing trend to focus on the maximum efficiency of engines, both petrol and diesel, with high cubic capacity. The most recent adventure concerns the transition to sustainable mobility, characterized by a hypocrisy-free approach represented by the first electric in Mazda’s history: the MX-30, respectful of the environment from the production principle to the end use. As tradition dictates, not a normal battery-powered car, given that Mazda has decided to overcome the mistrust linked to the autonomy of electric cars with the reborn Wankel, in the guise of Range Extender. To summarize this prestigious story we have chosen those which, in our opinion, have been the most representative models produced by this house.

Mazda R360 Coupè

After the 1931 Mazda Go 3-wheel motorcycle, the automotive history of the house of Hiroshima gains momentum in the post-war period with the Mazda R360 coupé, which makes style and lightness its strong points. A two-seater, less than three meters long, driven by a 16 HP two-cylinder V-engine with a weight of only 380 kg. Elegant and original, not a lightning bolt with its 90 km / h top speed, but perfect for a large clientele that was just waiting for possible wishes.

Mazda Cosmo Sport

In 1967 the futuristic Mazda Cosmo Sport / 110S arrived, the first car in the world equipped with a double-rotor rotary engine (491 cc each) with 110 HP. The compactness of the engine also influenced the sharp design of the Cosmo, with its particular overhangs and compact dimensions. He amused for his agility, due to the right balance between lightness and power, not excessive but always adequate for driving pleasure. A formula that, from Cosmo Sport onwards, would have given many satisfactions to the house of Hiroshima. The Cosmo Sport accelerated on 400 meters in 16.4 seconds and reached a top speed of 185 km / h.

Mazda RX-7

With the abbreviation RX, a whole generation of successful models with a Wankel engine takes off. Models such as RX-2, RX-3 and RX-4 paved the way for the consecration that took place with the RX-7. It made its debut in 1978 with the first series, while the second generation was launched in 1985. In the aftermath of the victory at Le Mans, in 1991 the Mazda RX-7 FD third series arrived, produced until 2002. Less than 430 cm long for just 1,250 kg in weight, perfectly distributed between the two axles, it was equipped with a Wankel engine supercharged by means of two sequential turbochargers and air-air intercooler. In the European version it delivered 239 hp at 6,500 rpm. The RX-7 was replaced in 2003 by its natural heir, the RX-8, driven by the maximum evolution of the Wankel: the new Renesis aspirated engine consisting of two 654 cc rotors each for a power of 231 HP in the version intended for European market.

Mazda MX-5

In 1989 the Mazda MX-5, aka Miata, the most popular roadster in history with over one million units sold worldwide in the four generations produced since 1989. The first edition, the NA, is perhaps the most appreciated stylistically, thanks to the retractable headlights which are then banned for safety reasons. It was born on the basis of the American journalist Bob Hall who, on specific request, suggests to the head of Mazda’s research and development department, Kenichi Yamamoto, to create a rear-wheel drive car, light and pleasant to drive. The fourth generation is currently on the market, stylistically evolved in Kodo design and equipped with the most powerful engine in its long history: the 2.0-liter SkyActiv-G brought from 160 to 184 hp, while the 1.5 boasts 131 horsepower. In 2017, the traditional version with the canvas top was joined by the RF variant, equipped with a rigid hard-top with an electric opening mechanism which, in a few seconds, transformed the MX-5 from a coupe to a plate.

Mazda CX-5

In 2011 Mazda entered the SUV segment with the CX-5, transferring design and driving pleasure for the first time in a raised chassis car. It quickly became the best-selling Mazda in Europe. The second generation was presented in 2017, available with 2.2 liter Skyactiv-D diesel engines of 150 and 184 HP and Skyactiv-G 2.5 liter 194 HP and 2 liter 165 HP petrol.

Mazda CX-30

The success of the SUV pushes Mazda to widen its offer with the CX-30 crossover, elegant thanks to the latest evolution of the Kodo design and innovative thanks to the revolutionary SkyActiv-X engine that debuted in parallel also on the Mazda 3 sedan. the best of petrol engines and diesel engines using an innovative spark-controlled compression ignition system. The Skyactiv-X engine mounted by the Mazda CX30 is a 2.0 direct petrol injection with 179 HP and 224 Nm of torque, combined with a mild hybrid system at 24 V. A double-sided engine, with average distances in the order of 4.6 l / 100 km, but able to enhance the pleasure of an “old-fashioned” guide, inspired by the extensions.

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