Gerald Yuen delves into the mind of Mr. Hiroshi Kajiyama, Program Manager (Product Division) of Mazda Motor Corporation.
TopGear Singapore: Mazda has been widely associated with rotary sportscars. What do you hope for Mazda to be known as now?
Hiroshi Kajiyama: We have been introducing our newer technology, called SKYACTIV. And we have also adopted a refreshed approach to the design, named under the “KODO” theme. We want to appeal our brand and philosophy for driving pleasure, and establish our unique proposition in the global automobile industry.
TGS: Most manufacturers are shifting towards force induction to achieve optimal performance. Is there a reason why the Mazda6 stays faithful to naturally-aspirated engines?
HK: We admit that downsized engines with turbochargers are effective in extracting performance, but there are a couple of reasons why we do not use them in the Mazda6. Downsized engines have a tendency to sound stressed, and they also put more strain on the engine. We believe that sound is a very important factor to enjoy sporty driving. The basic concept of SKYACTIV is to seek for an ideal level of engine combustion, and we never compromise elements of the driving dynamics.
TGS: Most manufacturers are currently incorporating hybrid technology into their range of cars. Will this technology be featured in Mazda’s future product lineup?
HK: We are working on the SKYACTIV technology. For technology of electric vehicles, we are going to introduce our new hybrid model in Japan this year. As of now, technologies in our current operations already include eco-friendly features.
TGS: As the man in charge of the third generation Mazda6, how has the model evolved over the past three generations?
HK: We recognise that the first generation Mazda6 has achieved significance and success in the global market. We infused a refreshing perspective into this particular segment of cars, which is to provide driving pleasure. At that time, we incorporated ideas revolving around driving pleasure, but we still had issues regarding its highway stability, and we had to address these issues.
For the second generation Mazda6, we focused to rectify all those issues raised in the market from the first generation Mazda6. But as you can see, due to the fierce competition in this mid sized sedan segment, if we lose the strong character of the Mazda6, our unique proposition will be weakened. And we put in more effort to strengthen the character of the third generation Mazda6, since this is our flagship model and it needs to represent our branding.
We worked hard to discuss what Mazda stands for, and repeat discussions even with teams in charge of other vehicles like the MX-5. This, we feel, differentiates us from competitors. We seek to appeal to the enthusiastic driver with a good social standing. We did not follow the crowd, nor did we try to satisfy all drivers. This allows us to be unique and stand out from the competition.
TGS: Which vehicles did you benchmark against when developing the Mazda6?
HK: We drew some inspiration from the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Volkswagen Passat, but we do not want to produce a vehicle similar to these cars. These three models reflect fully what they stand for, and we at Mazda also want to make a car that fully embodies our brand’s concept.
TGS: Will there be a MPS model for the Mazda6?
HK: We are unable to make an announcement about new products, but I believe that if we manage to appeal our brand’s concept to the public, we will not deny any possibilities. The Mazda6 has been quite successful in the global market, and I am confident that if I propose this idea to the top management, they will approve. As an engineer, I would love to work on a MPS model.
TGS: What is your future direction for the Mazda6?
HK: Before we look forward to the next generation, I want to achieve even more improvements in the current model. In Mazda, we do not want to have minor or facelift changes. We aim to introduce new technologies of the Mazda6 when the time is right, because the Mazda6 is our flagship model. The Mazda6 has to be the most premium model in our lineup, which is why it has to keep evolving.
TGS: Will there be a Mazda 929 replacement?
HK: We do not deny the possibility of remaking the 929, but even if we do, it will not be the flagship model. I believe that the 929 will be a luxury model, instead of a flagship model. We discussed which vehicle should be our flagship model, but we arrived at one conclusion, that a flagship has to be the car that people will associate with the brand.
TGS: Will there be closer working ties with Alfa Romeo?
Mazda announced an alliance with Alfa Romeo last year to produce a two-seater model. At this moment, we are not able to announce specific technologies shared with Alfa Romeo, but I can comment that the progress of discussions with the Alfa Romeo engineers is in an advanced stage. I feel very happy to discuss with these engineers who have a clear and firm philosophy of the technologies involved.
For more information on Mazda in Singapore, please visit: www.mazda.com.sg