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Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress
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raitchison
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2004 11:00 am    Post subject: Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress Reply with quote

From just-auto.com



Quote:
Mazda Motor Corporation has staged the world debut of its newest ‘concept’ vehicle, the MX-Flexa. The six-seat ‘space wagon’, the fifth ‘concept’ Mazda has showed within six months, is claimed in the press bumpf to demonstrate “one possible direction Mazda could take for a future space wagon” but is widely regarded by industry pundits as a production-ready replacement for the MPV minivan, which has flopped in Europe, writes just-auto.com deputy editor Graeme Roberts.

Mazda has a habit of passing off production-ready cars as ‘concepts’ at European motor shows – there was virtually no difference between show concept versions of the Demio/2 small minivans and what soon thereafter rolled out of a Mazda plant in Japan and a Spanish Ford plant (where the European market versions are made). Certainly, from the press handout photos, the MX-Flexa looks production ready enough to be the next MPV.

While it’s a pleasant enough looking vehicle, inasmuch as a functional minivan can be, the MX-Flexa sets no new standards for innovation. It’s about the right size, seats six (and surely, once in production, seven) and has the sort of stylish cabin minivan buyers on both sides of the Atlantic (e.g. Nissan Quest; Peugeot 807 & Sevel Nord-built siblings) have come to expect of late.

As shown at Geneva today, it’s 4,470 mm long; 1,745 mm wide, and 1,650mm high on a 2,750 mm; in the same ballpark as many rivals built in Japan, the US, Europe and South Korea.

And the engine is nothing special either. You might have expected maybe Mazda’s first hybrid, or the world debut of a new fuel-cell package in a so-called 'concept'. Nope. Just a ’cooking’ 2.3-litre MZR petrol four, as seen in the 6 car line and latest US-spec Ford Focus, developing 126 Kw at 6500 rpm and maximum torque of 214Nm at 4000 rpm.

The concept’s transmission is also routine: a four-speed (why no five or six-speed?) electronic automatic. McPherson-type struts at the front, multiple links at the rear, etc, etc. Any minivan engineer could write this spec in his sleep.

Now well on the way to recovery from being one of the Ford empire’s basket cases, Mazda could sure use a hit in the minivan line, along the lines of the acclaimed success of its 6 line and the recently launched 3 – though UK consumer press reviews of that latter new model range have been a bit mixed.

Certainly, Mazda could use a hit in the minivan/MPV segment. In the US, its original MPV, initially unique to North America (though Japanese built), came late to market and was too small to knock the established domestics, especially those made by Chrysler, off their perches. As the market has matured over two decades, respected imports like Honda’s Odyssey and Toyota’s Sienna have arrived to severely challenge the Big Three’s offerings, especially GM’s ageing models, but Mazda hasn’t even been on the US minivan buyer’s radar in recent years.

Ditto in Europe. The new(er) generation MPV is rarely seen here in the UK, or on continental European roads, and its smaller sibling, the Premacy, an apparent late-to-market attempt to challenge Renault’s dominant Scenic and Citroen’s Picasso, is also a rare sight.

To build on the success of the new 6, RX-8 and 3, Mazda could use a hit in niche markets. To do that, it needs two new minivans – a US-size MPV successor for North America and a Scenic-size Renault basher for Europe. Both need to set new styling, practicality and technology standards in their segments, as achieved by the original Plymouth Voyager and Renault Scenic.

At first look, the MX-Flexa simply doesn’t cut the mustard.

Ironically, its senior marketing chief thinks it does.

“It’s not by chance we chose the Geneva show to launch this important concept,” said Mazda’s senior managing executive officer in charge of global sales, marketing and customer service, Stephen Odell in a statement issued for the Geneva show.

“The space wagon segment continues to be an important and growing segment in many markets around the world. In Europe, it has exploded in the past five years, growing in some estimations by more than 200% in the five largest markets.

“We think this is one segment where Mazda can definitely inject a little zoom-soom.”

We beg to differ.
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lazyfox_
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2004 11:43 am    Post subject: Re: Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress Reply with quote

Aaaaaaghr, you beat me to it.

Oh and what a lame article? Why would Mazda be spending money on reinventing some revolutionary minivan? They just made nice little space wagon, which looks nice IMHO.

We seem to have to many threads about this.
http://forum.mpvclub.com/viewtopic.php?t=5506
http://forum.mpvclub.com/viewtopic.php?t=5571
http://forum.mpvclub.com/viewtopic.php?t=5681
Can one of the moderators merge all three together into one, prefferably into the one in the Minivan Comparsion section.?

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Last edited by lazyfox_ on Sat Mar 06, 2004 1:34 am; edited 1 time in total
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raitchison
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2004 12:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress Reply with quote

I agree the article sucks, the interior looks pretty nice in the pics you showed.

Looks a little smaller than the current MPV though, I wonder if it is a 6 passenger vs a 7 passenger which the current MPV technically is.

The 2.3 in my 3 pushes 160Hp so that's not much less than my wifes 01 MPV has. Though for the US market they won't be able to compete with less than 200Hp.

I'm told that the MazdaSpeed Mazda3 will have 220+Hp from a Turbocharged 2.3, that motor could definitely compete in the US, should get better mileage than a V6 as well though most Americans are probably of the mindset that a V6 is somehow better than a 4 cylinder even with the same or less HP.

IMO they totally need a MazdaSpeed MPV with 250+HP (300 would be better) and AWD with a manual transmission option, it wouldn't be a volume seller but it's a Niche that Mazda could own with very little engineering work required.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2004 4:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress Reply with quote


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2004 5:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress Reply with quote

For now I locked the other threads with a link to this thread.

-Brian

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2004 6:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress Reply with quote

If this were the MPV replacement I'd give it a definite thumbsup for styling. It'd be a good improvement to an already great design. I just don't see taking two steps back with a smaller engine and 4spd auto. I hope that's just for the overseas markets and that the US (if there will be one) gets an even more efficient 3.5L and 5spd auto. I wouldn't mind it actually only seating 6 but please don't make it any smaller than the current MPV and don't get rid of the rear magic seats.

Mazda has a winner with the MPV, if they would only be more competetive when it comes to power and convenience, people would be willing to pay more for a more powerful yet smaller-than-the-competition MPV.

I too agree, that article sucked!

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2004 10:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress Reply with quote

That is one Sexy, shut-yo-mouf, ride. But I too, agree. It would need a more powerful engine, and better tranny.
But Hey only time will tell what direction Mazda will go w/ the MPV. Wink

But sign me up, just for the looks............. Razz
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2004 11:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress Reply with quote

papabear wrote:
I wouldn't mind it actually only seating 6 but please don't make it any smaller than the current MPV and don't get rid of the rear magic seats.


The vehicle described in the article is smaller than the current MPV as follows:

MX-Flexa: 4,470 mm long
MPV: 4769

MX-Flexa: 1,745 mm wide
MPV: 1832

MX-Flexa: 1,650mm high
MPV: 1745

MX=Flexa: 2,750 mm wheelbase
MPV: 2840

I think the writer of the article makes some valid points. IMHO, if Mazda wants the MPV to be different than the competition while making good sales numbers, then it better equip its van with something besides just size to be unique, such as a truly sport handling and acceleration. Otherwise, the North American bigger is better obsession will really cut into MPV sales.
We love our MPV for its size, handling and decent acceleration compared to the competition of the same year. But if the newer minivans from other manufacturers come out with bigger size, better acceleration and similar handling, people will ask themselves if the MPV, with similar features only in a smaller package, is for them. IOW, IMHO, smaller size alone isn't going to cut it in the NA market.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2004 11:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress Reply with quote

I hear a lot that this should be MPV replacement. I don't think it is. I think it will replace Mazda 4 eventually. Mazda 4 is replacement for the Premacy. Given that they introduced this in Geneva, the primary market would be Europe, where most of the cars sells with smaller engines. If it were to replace the MPV, I think Mazda would abandon the larger minivan as it abandoned large luxury sedan.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2004 6:40 am    Post subject: Re: Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress Reply with quote

Shocked I LOVE IT! Inside and out ... it's a very sexy/sporty design to me. Did anybody notice the rims, the tail pipes and the (I think) brushed aluminium door handles? Those are HOT!

The only draw backs are the smaller dimensions and smaller engine and tranny. I like the length of the MPV as it is now, but I think it could stand a little widening (gotta get that full sheet of plywood in the cargo area). Oh yeah ... hide the sliding door track like the 01s and up. If it comes to the US I think it should compete as a tall boy sport wagon and not a minivan. Let's not get rid of the MPV just yet!
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2004 10:52 am    Post subject: Re: Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress Reply with quote

mk23666 wrote:
. Oh yeah ... hide the sliding door track like the 01s and up.
I was thinking about it, thay probably can't as this one is a smaller one and would not have enough space and support to hide it in the window line.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2004 11:06 am    Post subject: Re: Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress Reply with quote

i like the overall package, i think if mazda would market this van in NA i would think that they would change the overall dimension to compete maybe extend the wheel base a bit... but aside from that everything looks
good

oh i just notice the shape of the headlamps... looks like more of 03's MPV

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2004 11:19 am    Post subject: Re: Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress Reply with quote

LazyFox wrote:
mk23666 wrote:
. Oh yeah ... hide the sliding door track like the 01s and up.
I was thinking about it, thay probably can't as this one is a smaller one and would not have enough space and support to hide it in the window line.


I was thinking, "poor chicken" when I saw your new avatar. It makes me feel sorta like going to KFC... Wink

Nice avatar there bud.

Now on topic...

I was thinking that they would never bring this exact van to NA as well, but I was hoping they would take the styling cues from it and use them to design the next gen MPV. I just hope they add 3.5 more-power yet better efficient engine and fine tune the 5spd tranny to make it even better and more reliable.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2004 11:33 am    Post subject: Re: Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress Reply with quote

papabear wrote:
I was thinking, "poor chicken" when I saw your new avatar. It makes me feel sorta like going to KFC... Wink
Ehm, you ought to amp up your monitor resolution there. It is a sheep not a chicken. Rolling Eyes
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2004 10:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Article on MX Flexa: Me-too Mazda MPV fails to impress Reply with quote

LazyFox wrote:
I hear a lot that this should be MPV replacement. I don't think it is. I think it will replace Mazda 4 eventually.
My guess is that this may indeed be an MPV replacement, just not an NA MPV. Maybe Mazda is going the route of the Odyssey, where NA Odys are different from Japanese Odys. This would make sense since needs of regional markets are different.
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