Remember the stir Mazda caused when the Mazda 2 came on the scene?
Here was a good-to-drive supermini that was 100 kgs lighter than the car it replaced, turning the trend for cars getting ever bigger and heavier smartly on its head. For that, the 2 was a real breath of fresh air. Still is, come to that.
Now Mazda says it’s going to be extending this ‘Drive Light’ philosophy across all its coming generations of models, news that you might think would win universal acclaim.
Lighter means better economy because there’s less mass to drag around. It means lower C02 and more agile handling. Hard to argue against, you would think.
Yet some sections of the Japanese media believe there’s a price to be paid for that Lotus-style approach of ‘added lightness’. They reckon body rigidity has been compromised by Mazda’s new lightweight mindset. Put simply, the new 2 has been criticised for not being stiff enough.
This theory isn’t supported out by Mazda’s figures, with the current 2 claimed to have 13 per cent better torsional rigidity than the model it replaced. But it’s certainly true that when it comes to other consumer durables, and the camera industry springs to mind, each new generation of products tends not to pack the robustness of its predecessors as costs come under inevitable pressure.
But this is hardly what’s happening with Mazda. With all due respect to my professional colleagues here in Japan, some of whom are famously hardcore when it comes to technology, Hiroshima hasn’t suddenly gone on all flimsy on us. Indeed, the 2 feels as tough as any of its significant Japanese rivals.
But then, as Mazda acts on its commitment to systematically trim the pounds from future models, it is something to watch out for.