Nowadays Mazda is mostly known to produce boring eco-boxes, but that wasn’t always the case. Looking back, we collected some of Mazda’s greatest cars to be manufactured.
Mazda as a company has always been kind of an oddball. The company was founded in 1920, not as an automobile manufacturer, but as a cork manufacturer.
After nearly going bankrupt in the late 1920s, Mazda, or Toyo Kogyo as it was known back then made a bold change of business. In 1931 they introduced their first vehicle, a three-wheeled truck known as the ‘Mazda-Go’ that became popular among the Japanese Army.
During the second world war, Mazda saw a large demand for weapons, so they went into manufacturing producing mostly the series 30 through 35 Type 99 Rifle.
Then, in 1960 Mazda finally seemed to settle in its business model with the introduction of its very first production car, the Mazda R360 (Kei Car).
Ever since their curiosity and tendency to make things differently have remained and can be seen in their cars. Mazda likes to be innovative, they’re not afraid to fail. And by doing so they’ve managed to produce some of the greatest cars of all time.
Here are five of the greatest cars Mazda has ever manufactured.
Perhaps you didn’t know, but the Mazda Miata of today is the best-selling sports car of all time. One of the things that made the Miata so popular was that it was very affordable, but to be frank, that was not the only reason for its major success.
What made the Miata so special was unlike many other sports cars. Instead of focusing 0 to 60 times, the Miata focused on handling and driver feel. The Miata connected the driver to the road, its sporty chassis and remarkably light weight made it handle better than most of the competition.
As the years went on the Miata got a little heavier mostly due to safety regulations. But to make up for that it also received some additional power.
In 2004 Mazda introduced a very special version of the Miata – The Miata Mazdaspeed.
This model received upgrades such as stiffer springs and lowered suspension along with a pair of upgraded 17” wheels and Bilstein shocks. But most importantly of all, The Mazdaspeed Miata received a turbocharger and is to date the only Miata to have ever been fitted with a turbocharger from the factory.
The turbocharger boosted the other stock 1.8L I4 from 142 hp to a respectively 178 hp. And for a car weighing just 2,529 lbs (1,147 kg), that’s not bad at all.
In terms of legendary status, the RX-7 FD is scoring right up at the top among other JDM cars such as the Skyline GT-R and Toyota Supra.
The RX-7 may not be up to par with the Mazda Miata when it comes to handling and driver’s feel, but it certainly has the Miata beat when it comes to straight-line speed. For most people, the appeal of the RX-7 lies within its engine bay, and that is also where it is set aside from a lot of the competition.
The RX-7 is powered by a 1.3L rotary engine known as the 13B-REW. This engine is packing a punch despite its small displacement and produces a glorious rotary noise. The 1992 RX-7 produced 276 hp which makes out to be about 212 horsepower per liter which is quite astonishing even by today’s standards.
The RX-7 is not only powerful, it is also a lot lighter than the competition. Depending on specification the RX-7 FD usually weighs in at around 1,300 kg (2,860 lbs) whereas the R34 GT-R weighs in at around 1,560 kg (3,439 lbs) and the Toyota Supra at around 1,540kg (3,395 lbs).
The Mazda RX-7 is often considered one of the greatest JDM sports cars to have come out of Japan during the 1990s.
The regular seventh generation 323 was nothing but a small family saloon/hatchback produced in the early 90s. But among the thousands of 323 produced, there was also a very rare version known as the 323 GT-R produced in 1992.
The 323 GT-R was manufactured as a ‘homologation car’ for the Group A World Rally Championship. Only 300 units were ever produced making it one of the rarest cars Mazda has ever manufactured.
Mazda basically removed every part from a regular 323 and replaced it with high-end performance parts.
The 323 GT-R featured a 1.8L turbocharged I4 producing 210 hp. To help achieve this power the engine got upgraded 440 cc injectors, upgraded rods, and pistons as well as a front-mounted intercooler and a water-cooled turbocharger. The 323 GT-R was also fitted with a limited-slip differential along with a 4WD system.
Exterior wise the GT-R was quite different from any other 323 trim level. The GT-R received a new aggressive body kit, stiffer suspension, and anti-roll bars.
And although the roadgoing version of the 323 GT-R was a blast to drive, the rally version didn’t really see much success in the WRC. But considering this was one of the very few rally cars to have ever been produced by Mazda it should be considered one of the greatest.
The Mazdaspeed 6 is somewhat of a forgotten gem among the Mazda lineup of performance cars. The Mazdaspeed is the performance version over the regular Mazda 6 and featured a variety of performance upgrades.
The MazdaSpeed 6 has a firmer suspension, larger brakes, and larger wheels, each of which is crucial for a performance sedan to live up to expectations.
But most noteworthy was the heavily refined 2.3L turbocharged I4 which produced an impressive 274 hp. A long to go with it was an AWD-system and six-speed manual gearbox which was enough to go from 0 to 60 in around 5.8 seconds.
Its sleek body style is reminiscent of a longer RX-8 and is often categorized as a ‘sleeper’ due to its relatively non-aggressive styling.
The Mazdaspeed 6 may not share the same ‘JDM-essence’ as some of the other cars on this list, but in terms of outright performance, it certainly deserves its spot. After all, it is still one of the fastest Mazda’s to have ever been produced, just getting beat by the RX-7.
The Mazda Cosmo, also known as the L10A was a quite controversial car at the time of its release. The chassis design was oddly shaped with unorthodox proportions. The internal dashboard was almost identical to that of an airliner. However, Cosmo’s engine, though, stood out the most.
The Mazda Cosmo was the first vehicle to feature a rotary Wankel engine. The L10A was powered by a 982 cc ‘0810′ Wankel engine delivering 110 horsepower, which was later improved to 130 hp in the L10B. This was especially impressive given that some of its competitors didn’t even have half the power at the time.
There is a good chance we have to thank the Mazda Cosmo for it may have indirectly brought us cars such as the RX-3, RX-7, and RX-8.
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