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by Alex Gibson

Mazda engineers are reportedly pushing management to consider a rear-wheel-drive model range to help differentiate it from mainstream manufacturers and push the brand upmarket.

According to US motoring site Edmunds, the push is being led by Mazda engineers in middle- and senior-ranking positions, who believe Mazda would benefit from a rear-wheel-drive focused range.

The strategy would see Mazda producing more driver-focused cars with an emphasis on being fun to drive. The Japanese manufacturer would move away from mainstream front-wheel-drive models like the Mazda3 and Mazda6, and follow the likes of the MX-5 and RX series.

Currently, no mainstream Japanese manufacturer has a rear-drive-biased range, so the strategy would help Mazda stand out. Lexus and Infiniti manufacture several rear-wheel-drive model lines but do not compete directly with Mazda.

Despite the in-house pressure, Mazda executives are said to be opposed to the idea, as the strategy would involve a complete overhaul of Mazda’s architecture and model range. Mazda has already invested heavily in its Skyactiv chassis and drivetrain technology for front-drive and all-wheel drive models.

Mazda’s range is also already critically acclaimed even while being predominantly front-wheel drive, while cars like the Mazda3 and CX-5 have been a sales hit in Australia.

The report follows Mazda’s partnership with Alfa Romeo to develop the next-generation MX5, a rear-wheel drive certainty. Alfa is said to be investigating a rear-wheel drive focused range of its own to help it compete against German competitors. But even if there is truth to either set of rumours, it’s unlikely Mazda and Alfa would embark on the project together.




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