FEATURED MAZDA ENTHUSIASTS
A Mazda Love at First Sight:
As soon as 85-year-old Dick Kumamoto spotted his 2007 Mazda Miata, he knew he had to have it. Explore the bond between a Mazda owner and his vehicle.
It’s been about five years, but Dick Kumamoto still remembers the moment he first encountered his beloved 2007 Mazda Miata. It was a winter day, and the 85-year-old retiree was driving down Lawrence Avenue in Scarborough, ON. Suddenly, by chance, he happened upon a Mazda dealership.
“There was this cute little car sitting in the Mazda lot, covered in snow,” says Kumamoto by phone from his home in Sharon, Ont. “So I slowed down, I looked at it, and I passed. I turned around, went by it again, passed. Then I came home.”
But Kumamoto couldn’t get the Miata out of his mind. He had a lifelong passion for driving, which had manifested in stints behind the wheels of luxury sports cars and semi-trailers alike. But his tastes were very particular, and nothing captivated him quite like the Miata. Two days later, he returned to the Mazda lot, this time taking the car out for a test drive. The connection was immediate.
“As soon as I sat in this one, I had to buy it,” Kumamoto says.
For Kumamoto, the Miata is the complete package, a unique collection of every feature he loves in a sports car. He’d disliked the automatic transmissions he’d encountered in luxury vehicles, so the Miata’s manual transmission came as a welcome relief. While the steering on other sports cars had been rough and unwieldy, Kumamoto says the Miata handled like a dream. Best of all, its seat accommodated his four-foot nine-inch frame, offering him a comfort that no other vehicle had.
It didn’t take long for Kumamoto to develop a close bond with the Miata. He shares a heritage with the car, as both his parents and the Miata hail from Hiroshima, Japan. In fact, Kumamoto’s affinity for the vehicle resembles the Japanese concept of Jinba Ittai, or oneness between horse and rider. It’s a synergy that Mazda cultivates in every vehicle, and it defines the almost personal relationship between Kumamoto and his Miata.
“When I don’t drive it, I miss it,” he chuckles.
Fortunately, Kumamoto hasn’t had much opportunity to miss his Miata. He satisfies his love of driving with frequent road trips to both the east and west coasts of Canada. The Trillium Miata Club, a group of Mazda enthusiasts based in Southern Ontario, has been responsible for some of his most enjoyable excursions. It’s that exuberant spirit, that sense of effortless, joyful driving, that makes driving with the top down on a summer day one of Kumamoto’s simplest pleasures.
“It gives you peace of mind,” he says. “You sit in the car and you just drive … It’s so relaxing.”
Pierre Miville-Deschênes has distinguished tastes. His two most impressive passions: Mozart and Mazda.
Pierre Miville-Deschênes has a taste for the finer things in life. A classical music enthusiast since childhood, the retired school principal has amassed almost 3,000 vinyl albums and 2,000 CDs featuring his favourite compositions. The only thing more distinguished than his record collection: his Mazda collection. Since 1982, Miville-Deschênes has owned ten Mazdas, and his CX-5 is the latest and most advanced in a long line of quality cars.
“I felt I could trust them. I trusted the brand,” Miville-Deschênes says from his home in Morin Heights, QC. “In addition, driving them is enjoyable. I am now at my tenth Mazda over the last 35 years, and I feel very lucky to have known Mazda.”
That relationship began with an unforgettable first impression. In an interview with Zoom Zoom Magazine, Miville-Deschênes recalled his immediate fascination with a passing Mazda GLC. As he described in the interview, the car possessed the “beauty, the haunting lines, and the youthful look” of an intricate art object, evoking Mazda’s design language and conveying a sense of power and motion. The sighting immediately compelled him to buy one of his own. The only problem: the car was too small to accommodate his three kids.
Fortunately, Miville-Deschênes was quickly able to move on to a Mazda 626, and he hasn’t looked back since. He has owned several Mazda Protégés and Mazda6s over the years, culminating in his most recent vehicle, a CX-5. Miville-Deschênes bought the car because he wanted an SUV-type model, but the CX-5’s features quickly impressed him. The vehicle often functions as an extension of his passion for classical music, as the timeless melodies of Mozart, Handel, and Dvořák often float from its speakers.
“The Bose® sound system of the Mazda CX-5 is really amazing,” he says. “My MP3 player is permanently plugged into the car.”
Technological improvements in the CX-5 have also made it Miville-Deschênes’s most responsive and harmonious ride yet. With its Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC), the CX-5 speeds up and slows down based on the cars around it. An Active Driving Display (ADD) allows him to compare the car’s current speed with the posted limit, while the Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring (ABSM) and Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) help him avoid collisions. These components each add up to a more pleasant driving experience, giving Miville-Deschênes all the features he wants and leaving out anything unnecessary.
In fact, Miville-Deschênes has enjoyed his CX-5 so much that he’s already thinking of his future with Mazda.
“With the CX-5 I currently have, I intend to go all the way to my 40th year as a Mazda owner,” he says. “And once I have reached that, I might well reach my 50th anniversary!”
The True Story of a Mazda Family: How one Kingston clan has made Mazda their de facto car of choice
Stefan Mayer knows craftsmanship when he sees it. The Kingston native spent years honing his skills as a technician at a Mazda dealership, getting a first-hand look at the care and dedication that goes into every car.
“There’s some solid quality in regards to the workmanship, from the engine right through to the body to the interior and its design,” he says. “[Mazda vehicles] always have that nice sleek look to them. They were really comfortable, and they always looked great.”
Stefan may have been the first member of his family to notice the automaker’s commitment to quality, but he certainly wasn’t the last. Over the years, the Mayer family has steadily converted into a clan of Mazda drivers, one that includes Stefan (a 2008 MAZDA6), his brother-in-law, Craig (a MAZDA3), mother-in-law, Janelle (a Mazda CX-5), wife, Crystal (a Mazda CX-5), daughter, Natalia (a 2010 MAZDA3 Sport GT) and son Christian.
In fact, Mazda is the only vehicle brand that Natalia Mayer-McQueen has ever owned. Her first car was a 2000 Protégé, which she describes as “a great first car” that offered her plenty of control and made parking easy. When she wanted to trade up a few years ago, she chose a MAZDA3 Sport GT because it replicated the comfort of her Protégé. A quality driving experience lies at the heart of every Mazda vehicle, and Mayer-McQueen noticed this from the moment she first drove her MAZDA3.
“Behind the wheel, it felt the same, which I really liked,” she says. “I felt comfortable with it the moment I started driving it.”
Mayer-McQueen describes her experience driving Mazdas as stellar, and says she intends to continue driving them in the future. But she also credits her father with introducing her to the brand that would define her driving life.
“He knew [Mazda vehicles] in and out, so I knew that was a better choice,” she says. “He said multiple times how great the product is, and he loves driving them.”
Stefan’s love of Mazda began with his 1982 626, which immediately floored him with its “peppy” 2.2L engine. Its size, handling, and weight gave it a truly unique feel, one that made driving a fun and effortless experience. It was enough to leave a lasting impression.
“The 626 was more of a luxury car,” he says. “The handle, the ride, the acceleration, the comfort, and the features themselves were just phenomenal. I was always a 626 man throughout the years I was working on them.”
Stefan would own other makes of vehicles, but his fond memories of Mazda never dimmed. Over the years, he bought a series of Mazda minivans and compacts that could accommodate his growing family, until finally, an opportunity to relive his days as a 626 man arrived. When he found a used 2008 MAZDA6, the successor to the original 626, he jumped at the chance to buy it. The car and its sport shift has helped rekindle Stefan’s passion for driving.
“I can dump [the sport shift] in there and move around so I can have some fun in the car as I’m actually driving it,” he says. “Instead of just going from Point A to Point B … I can enjoy the road...”
And Stefan’s not the only one who’s come to enjoy the road in a Mazda. His brother-in-law, Craig Bailey, worked at the same Mazda dealership, and he even sold a CX-5 to his mother, Janelle. When Stefan’s son Christian was looking for a new car, he was drawn to his Mazda for its finely tuned handling. Both Stefan and his wife Crystal drive their Mazdas just for the pleasure of driving. And with a family full of Mazda drivers, it’s unlikely that this enthusiasm will subside any time soon.