For amateur weekend racers, there may be no name more familiar than Mazda. From autocross sessions to folks intent on ringing out their daily drivers on a curvy mountain road, there's guaranteed to be a Mazda involved.
As a sponsor of tracks and a series based on the Mazda Miata (also known as the Mazda MX5 Miata), the brand's strong ties to racing don't come as a huge shock. More than simple marketing, success has been built on the reputation of cars like the Mazda RX7 and subsequent Mazda RX8, and Mazdaspeed versions of the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Mazda3, and Mazda6. Despite being low on horsepower, the RX-7 and RX-8 have garnered praise for their high-revving rotary engines, and the turbocharged Mazdaspeed3, Mazdaspeed Miata, and Mazdaspeed6 have been widely viewed as performance bargains. That's impressive considering that Mazda counts heralded rides such as the Subaru Impreza WRX and Mitsubishi Evolution among its competitors.
That performance DNA has been spread to vehicles across the Mazda lineup, and not just the Mazda Miata. The Mazda3, formerly the Mazda Protégé, is a sportier alternative to the Toyota Corolla, the Mazda5 offers fun and three rows, and the Mazda CX7 and Mazda CX9 SUVs deliver a fair bit of driving enjoyment packaged with utility and style.