Phil Martens, Mazda Motor Corp. managing director for product strategy, design and product development, spoke with Staff Reporter Mark Rechtin at the New York product preview.
Is the U.S. market ready for hatchbacks?
Yes. The Americans are missing out on the versatility of the vehicle, and, frankly, Americans have never been presented with Europe's best hatchbacks. When they see Mazda's cars with our suspension, tread width, wheelbase and V-6 engine, they will change their minds. The U.S. consumer just doesn't know that he's ready yet. We're also looking at the legitimization of the wagon. The fragmentation of the SUV and MPV segments are providing us with opportunities.
Is the U.S. market ready for continuously variable transmissions?
We don't intend to bring CVTs to the U.S. market at this time, but I feel it is inevitable. There are the fuel economy and emissions benefits, as well as reduced noise, vibration and harshness, since you don't have gear whine.
What happens to the Miata on Mazda's RX-8 platform?
You can't mess with success. There are certain elements, such as the simplicity of its inline-four powertrain, that have real appeal. But there also is the allure of trying to stretch it and give it more power. It will always be a Miata. However, the RX platform has to support Miata and a high-performance sports coupe. We don't have the specific answers yet.