Mazda: Info, Specs, Pictures, Prices

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"Zoom-Zoom" is the tagline long used by Japanese automaker Mazda to express the brand's focus on driving enjoyment. It's no mere marketing spin - from the Miata roadster to the cheapest, most basic Mazda2 hatchback, Mazda vehicles are consistently noted for their crisp handling and enjoyable dynamics.

Although the Mazda name was not made official until 1984, the automaker's roots go back to Toyo Cork Kogyo, a machine tool manufacturing company...
 founded in 1920. Toyo produced its first car, the tiny Mazda R360, in 1960, and soon after began experimenting with a novel engine configuration known as the Wankel rotary engine.

A relatively light, simple design that produces more power per liter of displacement than conventional, normally aspirated piston motors, the rotary engine first saw production in the 1967 Mazda Cosmo and was a perfect fit for the company's sporting ethos. To-date, Mazda is the only automaker to offer rotary-powered vehicles to buyers in the United States.

Financial difficulties hampered Mazda in the 1970s and 1980s, preventing the company from launching a planned luxury brand to compete with Toyota's successful Lexus offshoot. These troubles led American automaker Ford to purchase a stake in Mazda in 1979, beginning a fruitful relationship that saw the companies develop a host of models and technologies in partnership.

Mazda's fortunes turned around somewhat with the introduction in 1989 of the Miata, a simple, lightweight roadster that offered a pure and enjoyable driving experience reminiscent of British sports cars of the 1960s with the bonus of far greater reliability.

In more recent years, Mazda once again became an independent automaker after Ford sold off most of its shares in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. Since then, the automaker has turned its attention to improving fuel economy through a new family of technologies the company refers to as "SKYACTIV." Encompassing gasoline engines with diesel-like compression ratios, automatic gearboxes with both dual-clutch and traditional torque converter components as well as other high-tech items, SKYACTIV will define the future of Mazda vehicles for years to come.