Virtually every automaker makes upscale cars that offer exceptional comfort. However, luxury brands transcend these models by taking refinement to the next level. So, where does Mazda fit in amongst its peers?
Mazda is one of those brands, such as Chrysler and Buick, that’s hard to place. The automaker has a stellar reputation within the industry. Plus, its vehicles aren’t as bare-bones as economy cars. However, Mazda typically doesn’t command the same respect as BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
So how can we tell if Mazda is a real luxury brand or if it’s an economy brand in disguise? We’ll analyze the manufacturer’s offerings, materials, and messaging to come to a conclusion.
Does Mazda promote itself as a luxury brand?
Mazda doesn’t outright call itself a luxury car company. However, it doesn’t stick to the typical value-based messaging as Toyota and Hyundai do.
Hyundai even implies that you’ll save money in the name of some of its trim levels. For example, the 2021 Hyundai Tucson’s second-most affordable model is called the Value trim.
Many of the manufacturers that use deal-based messaging also have luxury divisions. Hyundai recently introduced Genesis, and Toyota has Lexus. Notably, Kia doesn’t have a luxury division in North America, but it offers high-end models like the Stinger, as well as the recently discontinued K900 and Cadenza.
Mazda is somewhat different from its peers in this regard. It uses more high-end language when referring to its models. For instance, its trim levels feature words like “Grand Touring,” “Reserve,” and “Signature.”
Plus, it doesn’t have a luxury division. However, it did attempt to create one in the 1990s.
Are Mazda models on par with other luxury cars?
Mazdas can’t compete with BMW’s M performance models, but its cars are a step above most other manufacturers.
The Japanese automaker is known for its exciting driving dynamics. And unlike competitors like Dodge, it doesn’t just pack its cars with overpowered engines to achieve a fun experience.
Instead, Mazda focuses on creating energetic engines that are also fuel-efficient. Plus, its sportier models, such as the iconic Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster, feature a near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution ratio.
This genius engineering allows Mazda to make vehicles you’ll want to drive rather than just dull commuter cars. In that sense, Mazda seems to emulate luxury manufacturers rather than standard brands.
Does the Japanese automaker use high-quality materials?
Luxury manufacturers emphasize the higher level of craftsmanship and materials used in their products. Mazda is no different.
The company’s website features a ‘Why Mazda’ section, highlighting several attributes that separate it from lesser manufacturers. It goes into rich detail about its Kodo design philosophy, which claims that Mazdas create “a sense of motion, even at a standstill.”
Mazda also emphasizes how it uses more clay than any other automaker when designing its models. And it also gives consumers a sense that its cars feature a higher level of craftsmanship than many of its competitors.
Do these statements actually hold true with the finished products? Industry experts seem to believe they do.
For example, the U.S. News & World Reports’ review of the 2021 Mazda CX-5 gave high praise to the compact SUV’s interior quality. The publication stated, “The CX-5 feels like a luxury vehicle with a cabin featuring high-end materials everywhere you look and touch.”
The final verdict: Is Mazda actually a luxury car brand?
In the end, Mazda is an outlier in the automotive industry. The brand’s pricing structure and messaging separate it from traditional luxury brands, but it is undoubtedly a step above other manufacturers.
For example, most Mazda vehicles are priced slightly higher than that of a Honda. However, these models are still tens of thousands of dollars less expensive than a similarly sized Audi. Even a fully-loaded Mazda costs around the same as many entry-level luxury models.
We place Mazda in a “premium” tier that’s just a shade below luxury. Its top-end trim levels don’t quite match the level of over-the-top luxury features of Mercedes-Benz and BMW’s higher-end models.
However, Mazda’s blend of sporty performance and ultra-refined interiors would fit nicely in the middle of a luxury manufacturer’s lineup.
That doesn’t mean you should skip over Mazda for a Lexus if you want a luxury car. Unless you’re willing to spend hundreds of thousands on your next vehicle, you might get more for your money by purchasing a Mazda.
Most Mazda models equal or beat out their luxury rivals while costing much less. In the end, this Japanese manufacturer is well worth your time and money.