Why does it seem like more and more automakers are aspiring to become luxury brands? The answer is simple – higher profit margins. It's not all about who sells the most cars as accountants will tell you the money made with each vehicle delivered is just as important. Case in point, Mazda has been gradually moving upmarket with its latest products and will kick things up a notch with a new wave of RWD-based models.
Jeremy Thomson, the company's UK boss, told Autocar the goal is to turn the Zoom-Zoom company into a fully fledged luxury car manufacturer: "Our aspirations are to become a credible alternative to the traditional mainstream premium and that means non-German. We're not looking to mimic German premium because that's very well catered for with the existing incumbents and probably impossible to beat them at their own game."
Gallery: 2023 Mazda CX-60 spy photos
In other words, Mazda doesn't want to become the next Mercedes, BMW, or Audi, but rather to offer something fresh to entice premium car shoppers looking for a change. He went on to say there is still room in the crowded luxury segment for a Japanese high-end car. Jeremy Thomson admits Lexus "is about a third the size of Mazda in sales terms," but the objective is to occupy "a slightly different space."
When asked directly by Autocar whether Mazda wants to be the next Lexus, the firm's UK chief said "why not," adding Toyota's luxury division is the only Japanese brand that competes with the German trio. That said, we mustn't forget Acura and Infiniti are also playing in the big leagues, albeit they're not truly global brands.
It's not the first time when Mazda is looking to upgrade its image as some will remember the dead-on-arrival Amati sub-brand from the early 1990s. It never happened as the Japanese economy plummeted in 1992, resulting in liquidity shortages for the automaker. The ill-fated marque was supposed to come out in the spring of 1994, but Mazda pulled the plug.
Fast forward to 2022, the CX-60 through CX-90 SUVs riding on a new RWD platform with inline-six engines and PHEV powertrains will allow Mazda to fight the German trio. Some would argue it's a bit too late what with EVs taking over, but the Japanese automaker is heavily investing in that area as well.