No plans for Mazda 3 MPS revival
Mazda has shelved plans to revive its MPS performance series and develop a hot hatch version of its new-generation 3.
Speaking to Australian media at the 2018 Los Angeles motor show, where the fourth-generation hatch and sedan were revealed, Mazda's new global boss Akira Marumoto said "Mazda is a small player and if [you are asking whether] that segment has a high particular priority for Mazda my answer would be no. Therefore we not planning for MPS in the future."
While that statement flies in the face of Mazda's Zoom Zoom tagline and its internal philosophy to provide "driving pleasure" for its customer, Marumoto says the company is focusing on establishing itself as a genuine premium alternative to the likes of established European rivals. He says that will come through improved quality, comfort and refinement of its existing vehicle line-up rather than expanding into any new segments.
It also comes at a time when Mazda is broadening the application of its 2.5-litre turbo charged four-cylinder that debuted in the latest-generation CX-9 and is now under the bonnet of the Mazda6 sedan and wagon and the CX-5 SUV.
In another disappointing revelation for performance car enthusiasts, Marumoto also poured cold water on a new-generation rotary-powered sports car based on the stunning RX Vision Concept that starred at the 2015 Tokyo motor. Despite key executives at the time claiming the car was built to gauge public reaction for a planned revival of an RX coupe, he said the concept was only ever intended to preview the evolution of its Kodo design language that has now become a production reality in the new 3.
"[The] RX Vision is a vision model for design development so we didn't plan for production or commercialisation of this model," he said.
"I am receiving this question [whether we can make a rotary engined sports car] maybe 100 times, and I will not commit. That is a dream for all the Mazda executives and employees and it is my job to make employees dream come true, he added, jokingly.
"Nothing has been decided."
Mazda has confirmed, however, that it will introduce a rotary-powered generator as a range-extender - using a small-capacity single-rotor engine to recharge a battery pack - in one of its two upcoming electric vehicles.
Interestingly, Marumoto said Mazda has no desire to produce a purely electric sports car in the future, conceding that battery vehicles are best suited to commuter cars.
"I don't want to make such car, I prefer the smell of gasoline," he said.
Similarly, he is resisting the trend to create a fully driverless pod, saying "We will never build a car without a steering wheel" but added the semi-autonomous technologies will be introduced to its model range within the next decade.
"Mazda is a company that delivers driving pleasure to its customers," he said.
"However, if a human driver feels sick and can not continue driving then autonomous driving technology will take over and steer the car to a safe area and call the emergency services. This technology we hope to have in the market by 2025."
As Editor in Chief of the Drive Network, Amac is one of Australia's most experienced automotive journalists with more than 25 years experience in newspapers, magazines, broadcasting and digital media.