Design by Exchange Rate - 2012 Mazda 3 Long-Term Road Test
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2012 Mazda 3 Long Term Road Test

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2012 Mazda 3: Design by Exchange Rate

December 21, 2011

2012 Mazda Mazda3 

When I look around at the interior of the Mazda 3, I don’t see design. Instead I see the state of the currency exchange rate between the Japanese yen and the American dollar, currently 77Y to $1.

For years Japanese car-makers have dreaded the declining value of the dollar because it cuts into the profit margin of the manufacturing process in Japan. It was an exchange rate of 80Y/$1 which everyone feared, a level that then was considered catastrophic. Toyota began to prepare for this more than a decade ago (as did Volkswagen), and now every Japanese and European manufacturer is doing the same. Even so, Toyota has recently admitted that it can’t make a profit on Japanese-built subcompacts like the Yaris at the current exchange rate.

You can see the evidence of the same issue in the Mazda 3’s interior.

Once you’re behind the steering wheel and take a look around the Mazda 3’s cabin, you find places where things don’t look quite right. Sometimes it’s the materials, sometimes it’s the architecture, and sometimes it’s simply the color. These are places where money is being saved. And whenever you make similar observations in other cars, you’re seeing evidence of the same issues.

It’s kind of a miracle that the Mazda 3 has been improved in so many respects considering the circumstances. You can’t just make cars for free, you know.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

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