Why Mazda is Not Popular – 8 Key Reasons Why It Couldn’t Get The Attention It Could

The Japanese automaker Mazda has a century-long legacy in manufacturing vehicles, yet we wonder why Mazda is not popular and couldn’t gain the needed respect in specific markets and against bigger rivals. Mazda grappled with issues concerning its restricted worldwide reach and model range, public view as a specialized or economic label, renown for lower power capacity, and scarcity of hybrid and electric auto options. These are a few aspects that have led to its relative popularity struggles and hindered its global rivalry against giants like Toyota and Honda.

8 Reasons Why Mazda is not popular as it should be

Find all the reasons why Mazda is not popular relative to other Japanese brands. Let’s dive deep into what’s stopping Mazda from being on top.

1. Limited Range of Models:

In comparison to its rivals, Mazda doesn’t boast an extensive array of models. Mazda’s primary lineup is divided between cars and crossovers. The current car lineup includes the MX-5 convertible and the compact Mazda3. The present crossover range comprises the CX-30 sub-compact (an alternative to the CX-3 in the US), the compact CX-5 crossover, the CX-50, and the all-new 7-8-seat CX-90 (PHEV also available now). On the outskirts, the all-electric MX-30 could be seen as an exploration at best or a car to meet regulations at worst. Regardless, this model is exclusively available for purchase in California.

the compact CX-5 crossover

While Honda also maintains a concise range, its lineup encompasses diverse categories such as the Odyssey Minivan, the Ridgeline pickup, and the lively Civic Type R. On the other hand, Toyota, Hyundai, and Kia boast extensive and multifaceted lineups that they consistently augment. Toyota and Nissan take an additional stride by offering full-size trucks, enabling them to secure a portion of the largest vehicle segment in the US.

This situation contributes to the Mazda popularity challenge arising from limited options. Due to their restricted lineup, numerous potential customers find themselves compelled to seek alternatives, especially those interested in hybrid vehicles. Notably, Mazda has deliberately abstained from entering the hybrid powertrain arena. While various other brands are eagerly embracing the realm of all-electric automobiles, Mazda is relinquishing that market as it expands unchecked.

2. Earning a Reputation for Subtlety:

Contemporary Mazda, often to its own disadvantage, upholds the principle of granting its vehicles sufficient power rather than an excess. The MX-5 underscores this inclination, though it remains rational for a compact roadster meant to deliver adept handling while remaining budget-friendly. Throughout Mazda’s other vehicle range, even the youthful Mazda 3 doesn’t emerge as an especially spirited car. In the case of the CX-5, a more potent engine alternative exists beyond the standard model, yet this only accentuates the unimpressive nature of the base engine.

Mazda 3

For auto aficionados, marques like Hyundai and Toyota introduce performance lineups. Hyundai boasts its N-performance automobiles, while Toyota showcases TRD and now incorporates GR as its emblem for road-oriented performance. This segues into the subsequent rationale behind Mazda’s limited popularity.

3. Limited Brand Recognition:

Limited brand recognition is another reason why Mazda is not popular. In contrast to competitors such as Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, Mazda experiences comparatively lower recognition within the general population. The relatively constrained marketing budget plays a role in this, curbing Mazda’s capacity to effectively market and endorse its offerings. Consequently, the Mazda brand might need to be more acquainted with potential customers, potentially impeding its ability to draw new patrons and vie with its aforementioned rivals.

When individuals contemplate their choices for a fresh vehicle, they’re more inclined to contemplate familiar marques like Toyota, Honda, or Ford rather than deliberating upon a comparatively unfamiliar label like Mazda. This dynamic can present heightened challenges for Mazda in terms of both customer attraction and market expansion.

4. The Rotary Engine Wager:

For quite some time, Mazda linked with its distinctive rotary engine technology initially unveiled in the Mazda Cosmo sports car during the 1960s. Although the rotary engine provided distinct advantages, such as enhanced maneuverability from its lightweight nature, it carried certain downsides that influenced Mazda’s image and appeal.

In comparison to European rivals, the rotary engine consistently generated less power and exhibited inferior fuel efficiency. As consumer emphasis grew on environmental issues and fuel conservation, Mazda’s rotary engine vehicles became less competitive in the market.

Moreover, the rotary motor gained fame for its relatively higher delicacy compared to piston powerplants, affecting Mazda’s image as a trustworthy marque.

In a coinciding manner, Mazda’s reliability took a hit alongside Toyota and Honda establishing their own dependable images, influencing consumer choice toward more reliable, fuel-efficient competitor cars.

While facing rotary engine issues, Mazda persevered in crafting rotary motor cars for numerous decades. Yet, of late, the company has transitioned from rotary engines, prioritizing enhanced piston engines, plus hybrid and electric innovations, for better efficiency and dependability.

5. Mazda’s Missing a Halo Car:

That header might not hold water if you consider the MX-5, but it hasn’t pulled eyeballs like a true halo car should. While Honda boasts its Civic Type R, making waves for fans and media alike, Mazda hasn’t treated us to a Mazdaspeed street vehicle recently. Toyota flaunts the Supra as its spicy, potent halo, and Nissan presents its fresh Z car and the admittedly old GT-R. Hyundai has teased a halo car, though it’s not materialized just yet. Nevertheless, its N brand is rapidly expanding.

These automobiles not only seize enthusiasts’ attention and grab headlines but also make heads turn on the road and draw folks into dealerships. Mazda once had this aura with its rotary-powered RX models, but those days are bygone.

6. Outdated Technological Features:

When observing the contrasts with the more demanding scenarios encountered by Volkswagen customers, Mazda’s infotainment comes up a bit short. It’s not on par with Toyota and Hyundai. While Mazda’s infotainment tech isn’t lacking, it’s just not as comprehensive. Foundational components such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, featuring intuitive and user-friendly interfaces.

Nonetheless, it’s quite remarkable how Toyota has seamlessly integrated assistants and cloud-connected applications into its setups, whereas Hyundai’s Digital Key system presents an impressive display of ingenuity. Hyundai has also managed to grab attention with its memorable Remote Smart Parking Assist and clever promotional efforts.

Mazda excels in crafting reliable infotainment systems. However, cutting-edge tech is no longer restricted to luxury labels, urging Mazda to enhance its investments and innovations need for heightened capital and creativity.

7. Restricted Worldwide Reach:

Despite its prominence in Japan and specific Asian markets, Mazda possesses a relatively confined international footprint in contrast to its rivals. This constrained global influence has noticeably affected the company’s sales figures and is the prime reason why Mazda is not as popular as it should be.

For the year 2022, Mazda’s global vehicle sales stood at a modest 300,000 units, a stark comparison to Toyota’s staggering 10.5 million. This considerable variance in sales can be ascribed partly to Mazda’s restricted worldwide presence, particularly within vital markets like the United States.

Mazda has faced challenges in gaining a prominent foothold in the US market, particularly in comparison to certain other Japanese rivals, making it challenging to draw in fresh clientele and enhance its market presence.

8. Perceived as a “Budget” Choice:

In spite of Mazda’s renown for crafting top-tier automobiles, a portion of buyers still construe the brand as less upscale compared to other luxury marques. This notion presents a challenge for Mazda in attracting consumers on the lookout for high-end luxury.

This viewpoint might partly arise from Mazda’s consistently lower price range compared to those of more high-end counterparts. While this stands as an advantage for certain consumers, it might also nudge some to regard Mazda as lacking the luxury or elegance of its rivals.
However, the truth remains: Mazda’s vehicles maintain their well-crafted, elegant stance, brimming with cutting-edge technologies. The brand boasts a slew of accolades for its excellence and aesthetics, including the esteemed Red Dot Design Award and the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ recognition.

While Mazda might not provide an equivalent luxury to marques such as BMW or Mercedes-Benz, it does deliver a top-notch driving experience at a comparatively more affordable cost. It’s crucial to recognize that Mazda doesn’t explicitly manufacture deluxe automobiles or possess a luxury vehicle division akin to Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota.

Mazda has a reputation for its elegant vehicle designs, cozy cabin, and cutting-edge safety enhancements. It has persistently brought forth fresh innovations in recent times, strengthening its status as a top-tier automaker.

How Mazda Can Change People’s Perception and Be Famous?

None of this will come as a surprise to Mazda, aiming to shift toward the upscale market. Plans are already underway with fresh models that appear poised to explore the territories currently inhabited by Lexus and Acura. The upcoming mid-size 2024 CX-70 and the all-new 2024 CX-90 appear set to establish a strong presence in that range, with Mazda opting for V6 powerplants, rear-wheel propulsion, and all-wheel drive.

The decision to incorporate rear-wheel-drive in its regular models marks a departure from the contemporary Mazda strategy, setting it apart favorably from Acura—akin to the edge BMWs once enjoyed over their competitors. Mazda’s distinguishing factor lies in its genuine passion for and meticulous focus on delivering an exceptional driving experience, allowing it to stand apart from Lexus. Notably, the upcoming models are also slated to offer hybrid drivetrain options.

If Mazda manages to surpass Acura in sportiness and excel in both style and Lexus-like quality, all while integrating advanced technology and ample power, it might bring about a significant transformation. It could establish its prominence in the space between Japanese budget-friendly luxury brands and the high-priced German trio of BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. If executed well, Mazda might experience a notable surge in its popularity.


Is Mazda not a good car?

Mazda is generally considered a reputable automobile manufacturer, and they have a reputation for producing vehicles that offer a good balance of performance, style, and affordability.

Why aren t Mazda’s popular?

Mazda is a credible automaker, but it may not be as well-known as other brands for a variety of reasons:
1. Consumer Perception
2. Limited Model Range
3. Marketing and Advertising:
4. Dealer Network
5. Resale Value

Is Mazda considered a luxury car?

Mazda is not generally considered a luxury car brand. Instead, it is positioned as a mainstream or “near-luxury” brand. Mazda produces vehicles that offer a balance of quality, style, and performance, often at a more affordable price point than traditional luxury car brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, or Audi.

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Jasper has been an enthusiast of the automotive and IT industries since the age of 16. He independently writes on the auto industry's recent happenings.