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Mazda going to extremes with concepts

Paris debut: The twin turbo, all-wheel drive Mazda6 MPS is due to make its international launch at the Paris motor show in September.

Mazda Australia plans to develop models for show and go

27 Jul 2004

MAZDA Australia is keen to continue developing concept versions of models in the local line-up and put them into limited production if the business case adds up.

The company is mulling over just which vehicles might get the concept treatment from in-house expert Allan Horsley, with no decisions settled on as yet.

Mazda Australia’s interest in developing attention-grabbing concepts locally was revealed by new managing director Doug Dickson in an exclusive interview with GoAuto Professional.

"One of the great things about being appointed to this position is that I can now do what I used to do back in Queensland in the early 1980s (when he was state sales manager)," Mr Dickson said.

"We did quite a few extreme cars. I turbocharged a number of series II and III RX-7s, and they were really quite extreme. I thoroughly enjoyed doing that, it was something that the press guys up there thought was pretty good. We had a ball.

"So I thoroughly approve of what Allan (Horsley) is doing in Sydney.

"At this stage we will be looking at one-offs. If they look like they could be half a starter then we’ll look at another production run."No locally developed Mazda concept is expected to appear at a motor show before 2005.

For Sydney this October, the Ibuki roadster is expected to be the concept star for Mazda.

The Ibuki, which first appeared at the Tokyo motor show in October 2003, is a rough guide to the next generation MX-5 due for launch in 2005.

The last locally developed Mazda was the limited edition turbocharged MX-5 SP, which was launched in January 2002 and led to the factory developing the turbo SE model, which went on sale internationally this year.

Mazda Australia’s considerations on what concept to use are limited by the factory’s plans to develop an MPS go-fast division. The first model, a twin turbo, all-wheel drive Mazda6, is due to have its international launch at the Paris motor show in September.

"Obviously we wouldn’t cross-over anything the factory would be doing," said Mr Dickson.

"We did the SP turbo here and the factory picked up on that. Maybe something we do here the factory could pick up on also."Local ideas would not necessarily be limited to pure performance concepts based on obvious headliners like the RX-8, with attention in Mazda also believed to be heading toward older models that could use some time in the spotlight.

That could include such unlikely candidates as the B-Series light commercial, the MPV people-mover, Tribute light-duty SUV or even the Mazda2 light segment model.

Mr Dickson said the appearance of a concept car at a future motor show did not necessarily mean there would be a production version.

"There’s a big difference between doing something as a one-off and as a production thing," he said.

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