Why Mazda Is The New BMW For Petrolheads

All the qualities we loved about BMW up until the late 2000s seem to have migrated to another brand…
Why Mazda Is The New BMW For Petrolheads

Right off the bat I want to be clear that BMW makes some excellent cars. Solid-feeling, confidence-inspiring and technologically advanced cars. We know all about the power and potential within BMW’s walls.

And yet, some of the qualities we still traditionally associate with the brand have slowly migrated out of Munich. Delving into the history books you can dig-up gems like the 2002 Turbo, the M1, the E30 M3, the E60/61 M5 and the E46 M3. All of them are legends, highly sought-after and respected today. We love them all.

The E39 BMW 5-series is fantastic to drive, whatever the engine
The E39 BMW 5-series is fantastic to drive, whatever the engine

But beyond those figureheads (and others) were whole ranges of cars that were all fantastic to drive. Just about every 3-, 5- and 7-Series since the model names were first used felt compact, tactile, engaging and communicative. Until recent times, that is.

The emphasis across the German premium brands has shifted to size and power. No one this side of Jupiter is going to claim that the latest M5, with its switchable four-wheel drive and nuclear engine, is in any way a bad car. But with all that weight, stiffness of chassis and accelerative supremacy it has lost that richly talkative handling character that you’ll find in a properly sorted E39 M5. Likewise the petrol 3 Series of today, for all its amazing materials and technology, can’t match the dynamic fizz of an equivalent E46.

Today's M240i is brilliant, but too expensive for most of us
Today's M240i is brilliant, but too expensive for most of us

The days of truly compact, lightweight and lithe BMWs are probably behind us – except, perhaps, for the petrol halves of the 1- and 2-Series ranges where there are still some gems in the vein of models gone by. Unfortunately, the problem then becomes price. Whereas a brand-new BMW used to be a goal you could work hard in an ordinary job to achieve, a mid-range 230i M Sport today costs over £33,700 before options. That’s way out of reach of the office-bound masses.

The company has made it clear that technology and autonomy are its key development areas – it will be concentrating more on those than on making the next 320i as lightweight and full of feedback as possible. Fortunately, though, there’s another company that has quietly slid into those worn but lovable old boots: Mazda.

Why Mazda Is The New BMW For Petrolheads

Forget the focus on the admittedly brilliant – and better than ever – MX-5. For the best part of a decade Mazda has been churning out ordinary, everyday cars that are, on the face of it, just dailies for the average person on the average street. We can now say they’re more than that.

We joke about Mazda not making a bad car but what we really mean is quite specific: Mazda makes cars that offer more 24/7 driver engagement at normal speeds than almost anything else. Everything from the Mazda2 to the CX-5 comes as standard with sharp steering, a sorted chassis and a general feeling of cohesion. You can throw any modern Mazda in any trim along a winding road and it’ll be fun. The new Mazda3 will be no exception.

Why Mazda Is The New BMW For Petrolheads

We know Mazda is committed to internal combustion and we can’t wait to get to grips with its intriguing SkyActiv-X engines on our home turf. Even before we do, though, we feel like we can start to treat Mazda in the same way we treated 1990s and 2000s BMW. Petrolhead praise does not come higher.



Who would have thought that small fwd hatchbacks with considerably less sound deadening that an executive sedan are engaging to drive… almost like a Mini built by BMW? A 230i M is like comparable to a 328i of old. Not very common, not very rare. They were just her and ther, just like a 230i M today. You’re going to tell me an MX-5 today is just as affordable as it was in 1990? Article is purce clickbait. You go on a poetic introduction drivle, that wants to show some fake sympathy to BMW and not get the full flak of their fans. Then, without providing any tangible information at all you drop the bomb. FWD hatchbacks and quasi mini suvs are better than the BMW lineup because BMW has no more driver engagement and Mazda is pure driver engagement. CLICK BAIT! Of the nasty sort. Really not what I was expecting from you. You could have brought up valid points for discussion but there is less substance to this article than a bag of chips/crisps. You could have mentioned engineering and engineers, forays into track testing on their side, actual price comparisons to show inflated BMW pricing or a bunch of other information to support your pow. All you came up with is BMW lost their way. Mazda is engaging their drivers end of story.
Side note to those who keep mentioning the rotary of the future. Your epic legendary motor has been turned into an overpriced power generator with some nostalgia value. Keep that in mind.

12/03/2018 - 08:10 |
6 | 2
David 27

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

logic? nah get that outta here

12/03/2018 - 17:20 |
2 | 2

Problem with mazda is, you go executive and have a boring canal boat as a car and look like you are doing okay. Or you get an mx-5 and get shit on by all bmw’s on the road (including the 118d’s) and look like you watch your Mrs being touched by other men for enjoyment because you can’t satisfy her.
I’ll stick with my BMW thank you.

12/03/2018 - 11:09 |
0 | 6
Vincent Lin

Even the CX9. I was pleasantly surprised driving it down a back road. Handled like a smaller car. The Forester on the other hand…
(both of them are the older generations though)

12/03/2018 - 12:50 |
2 | 0

The real question is, when do you think Mazda will make some more RWD stuff to beat BMW?

cough RX-Vision, where are thou? cough

12/04/2018 - 01:31 |
4 | 0

I have gotten huge respect for Mazda over the past year. They truly care about their cars.

12/04/2018 - 07:37 |
0 | 0

Absolutely right these Mazda are one of a kind experience, Driving finishing,Handling …Wish they’ve come Bck with the Wagon And CX-7 2020.
One of my most *Relieable car I have driven Keep on the great Quality Mazda
People will soon realize how beauti Your products are .

12/09/2018 - 16:54 |
0 | 0

I really wish Mazda would come out with a more powerful and larger RWD model, like a RWD Mazda3 to compete with the M3, it’s a bit of a shame that the only RWD one they have is the MX-5 and it doesn’t have the size to make it as practical. Also, they need to bring back Mazdaspeed production models.

03/06/2019 - 23:41 |
0 | 0

I love my Mazda 2. Such a characterful little car.

03/07/2019 - 20:47 |
0 | 0
Basith Penna-Hakkim

Mazda is just doing better and better

03/08/2019 - 15:37 |
0 | 0

Proud owner of an e39 530d here. Mazdas are fwd mostly, no way they can come close to the golden age of ze germans

06/18/2019 - 19:13 |
0 | 0



Sponsored Posts