Mazda is a producer of affordable cars and trucks that all share one common ingredient: a sporty character. Their line-up of vehicles includes cars from subcompact hatchbacks to mid-size sedans, sports cars, a compact minivan and crossovers of various sizes.
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Mazda started out in 1920 as Toyo Cork Kogyo, a tiny company based in Hiroshima, Japan that manufactured corks. In 1931, they started producing three-wheel trucks, which marks their vehicle-manufacturing debut. The company changed its name to Mazda in 1960, when their first passenger cars were produced, including the R360, the Carol, the Familia and the Luce.
The Japanese brand innovated in 1961 by unveiling their new rotary engine, and in 1963, a new milestone is achieved as they build their one-millionth vehicle. The rotary engine will eventually find its way into the 1967 Cosmo Sport 110S, and is still used today under the hood of the RX-8 sports car.
Mazda Canada was established in 1968, while Mazda USA was created two years later. The first model on U.S. soil was the rotary engine-powered R100 coupe.
In 1978, the famous and affordable RX-7 sports car arrived on the market. A year later, Ford bought a 25% stake in the company, while the GLC was introduced in 1981. The second generation of the RX-7 arrived in 1986, and is awarded Motor Trend’s Import Car of the Year and the AJAC’s Best New Sports Car titles.
Another cooperation with Ford brought the Probe and Mazda MX-6 twins in 1988, which were produced in a new North-American plant. The mid-size 626 received a redesign and the 929 sedan was introduced. A hot-blooded 323GTX with four-wheel drive and a turbocharged engine also was offered for a couple of years.
The now-famous MX-5 Miata two-seat roadster, inspired by the Lotus Elan of the ‘60s, arrived on the scene in 1989 and is an instant hit. It will go on to be the bestselling roadster in the world, and is still produced today. The MPV minivan was also introduced the same year.
In 1990, the 323 sedan became the 323 Protegé, and in 1993, a redesigned B-Series debuted in Canada and the U.S., basically a rebadged Ford Ranger. A nifty little sports hatch called the MX-3 was offered from 1993 to 1996 and includes one of the smallest V6 engines on the market. The Millenia sedan arrives in 1995 featuring a unique, Miller-cycle engine.
1999 brought a new MPV, this time with sliding side doors. In 2000, Mazda and Ford team up again to develop the Tribute compact SUV, while a 5-door version of the brand’s compact sedan was offered in 2002 and 2003, called the Protegé5. In 2004, the Protegé was replaced by the Mazda3, the 626 was redesigned and renamed the Mazda6, and the RX-8 was launched as a spiritual successor to the RX-7.
In 2006, the MPV was replaced by the compact, six-passenger Mazda5, while the short-lived MAZDASPEED6 was added for 2006 and 2007, a high-performance sedan with all-wheel drive and a turbo 4-cylinder engine. The CX-7 and CX-9 crossovers arrived in 2007 as well as the front-drive, turbocharged MAZDASPEED3.
Today, Mazda’s product portfolio consists of the Mazda2 subcompact, the Mazda3 compact sedan and hatchback, the Mazda5 minivan, the Mazda6 sedan, the Tribute sport-utility, the CX-7, the CX-9 as well as the MX-5 and RX-8 sports cars.
The Mazda2 has proven itself a winner over the past few years and sales have been pretty solid. However, time moves rapidly in the sub-compact world and the Mazda2 is now perhaps starting to show a few age-related wrinkles.
Last year, Team Auto123.com picked up our first long-term tester in a long while: the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe. Our extra time with our Auto123.com award-winning Santa Fe not only revealed a number of new elements, but also solidified and even discounted some of our impressions. The experience turned out to be very rewarding and so we're doing it again.
And absolutely for the better. The 2014 Mazda CX-5 has, in one swift move, put aside all my misgivings that came to light after my test drive of a 2013 CX-5 last year. So good is the work done by Mazda on the 2014 that the CX-5 hoisted itself near the top of my list of favourite compact crossovers alongside the Kia Sportage and Volkswagen Tiguan.
Ford isn't the only automaker celebrating
a milestone this week: Mazda is set to
launch the MX-5 Miata 25th Anniversary
Edition today at the 2014 New York Auto
The 2014 Mazda2 has sensuous lines and a
friendly face. More importantly, it
proves fun to drive thanks to dynamic
steering and a convenient size.
Reliability is commendable, too.
Mazda Canada is recalling 13,182 Tribute
SUVs from 2001-2004 to correct a problem
with the suspension.