Amid all the dizzying next-gen technology on display at Mazda’s Tech Forum in Frankfurt, there was a welcome reassurance that the Hiroshima-based company wants to do the right thing by its enthusiast base.
Hidetoshi Kudo, Executive Officer in charge of R&D Administration and Product Strategy, was adamant in his conviction that manual gearboxes are not being ditched by Mazda.
“No,” he said when asked if Mazda was switching to all-automatic transmissions. “We will continue to build the manual gearbox. In fact, I am certain we will be the last [Japanese] OEM still making cars with manual gearboxes.”
That leads to the fascinating prospect of a stare-down between Mazda and Toyota’s lightweight sports cars, but Mazda is clearly determined to be last man standing here. That’s great news for those who appreciate the control, tactility, and simplicity of a manual transmission, and sets a marker for future MX-5 development.
Of all the major Japanese manufacturers, Mazda has long been the one with the most human face, a company that has often pursued technical innovations that others have shied away from on cost grounds. It’s also one that appreciates that not all of its customers want high-tech. Delivering the best of both worlds looks to be a challenge that Mazda is willing to take on.
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