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Being a #gamechanger

Recently, I spent time in Hollywood, CA with the good folks at Mazda. There to drive their brand new Mazda3, we explored the Hollywood Walk of Fame as well as the surrounding winding desert roads. The theme throughout the event (even the hashtag we were prompted to use for all social media posts about the Mazda3) was “game changer.”

What does it mean to be a game changer? Well, for some it’s about going against the grain, where no one else has. Taking a chance at doing something different, doing something a little abnormal. Sometimes this type of “game changer” doesn’t succeed simply because the approach is a little harsh and rubs people the wrong way.

Then there’s the revolutionary game changer, the one who innovates, creates and invents. This type of game changer is better received, and yet the change may take ages to achieve as those around him accept the newness of what he’s doing and the transition into “newness.”

Mazda is the second type of game changer, at least that’s the impression I get. They’re not about shock and awe, but a gentle transition into something different. They’ve slowly introduced us to the KODO design with the Mazda6 and CX-5, and now the Mazda3. They also gently brought about the SKYACTIV engine and transmissions, and now they’re nudging us into a new era of HMI interfaces and hardware.

Is it really game changing? Well, yes, in fact it is. Why? Because of the segment. As I wrote a few weeks ago, there really is no such thing as a bad car anymore and this just further proves my point. Even the lowest-grade vehicles are coming out with amenities that used to be reserved for higher-end luxury models.

Changing the game could do one of two things: Ostracize or unite. Of course, changes in the auto industry (read: technological advances/fuel efficiency technics/amenities) trickle down through each and every model eventually, but it’s the pioneers who get all the attention. And Mazda deserves some attention, if only for their SKYACTIV technology, an engine that runs a compression ratio of 13:1 on 87 Octane. Game changing? Indeed.

Is the Mazda3 as a whole a game changer? It most definitely stands a good chance at being a game changer. When measured up against the likes of the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic (as one is apt to do when talking about the Mazda3), it’s clear (at least to me) that Mazda is leaps and bounds ahead. Why? Because Mazda has also taken the more human approach.

Instead of focusing on improving their vehicles alone, Mazda turned to their drivers and focused their energies on the human side of their cars. What do their drivers need/want? Where do they look? Where do their hands go?

One message was clear at the 2014 Mazda3 launch: Their technology and design influences are based on one belief; the human being.

And that right there is a game changer in the auto industry. How does Mazda’s product affect your life? Not your wallet. Not the environment. Not your daily commute, but you. How does it influence you? #gamechanger #FTW

Mazda3 2014 vue 3/4 avant
Photo: Miranda Lightstone