While Mazda of America is busy working on its SkyActiv system, back at home in Japan, it is hard at work creating a new micro-mini vehicle. This latest micro-mini to hit the Japanese market is the Mazda Flairwagon, which is a relatively appropriate name given this new wagon has plenty of flair to show off, with its odd-shaped body.
Underneath all of the Mazda badging is a car that is not even related to Mazda in any way, as this new micro-mini wagon is really nothing more than a Suzuki Palette with Mazda badges. Unlike other rebadged cars like the Cavalier and Sunfire, Mazda didn’t really bother changing anything but the badges, which is pretty strange. Then again, this Suzuki also prowls the streets bearing the Nissan Roox name. In the Roox’s case, Nissan at least changes the headlights a little to separate it from its Suzuki donor.
Is this compact and odd-looking wagon something that will actually sell and will it ever find its way outside of the Japanese market? To find out the answers to these questions and learn all about this “new” micro-mini by Mazda, click past the jump.
To say the exterior of the Flairwagon is a little bit awkward and odd looking is just like saying that Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson had just a little bit of plastic surgery in their respective lives. Yeah, it’s a bit of an understatement. When the Toyota Echo first came out, people laughed at its seemingly more-tall-than-wide appearance and basically laughed it out of production. Well, the more-tall-than-wide appearance of the Flairwagon makes the Echo look proportionate.
The roof measures in at 1,365 mm (53.74 inches) high, giving it tons of headroom for a mini car. Unfortunately, Mazda does not list its width for us to verify the odd proportions that we already assume, but its outward appearance is evidence enough.
Regardless of its odd look, the Flairwagon is useful, as it boasts a 2,070 mm (81-inch) wheelbase, which allows it to haul around plenty of cargo and passengers on the inside, despite is small size. The rear door measures in at 580 mm x 1,230 mm (22.83 inches x 48.42 inches), so it is easy for an adult to get in and out of the rear.
The overall design leaves a good bit to be desired, as the Flairwagon features a nose that looks like it was forced inward, as it is very short. In turn, however, this does provide the driver with a good view of the front end. The rest of the body is just plain too boxy for us, including the body panels and windows. It’s just a van made from a bunch of squares, which makes it just a tad unattractive.
The front of the Flairwagon boasts a louvered upper and lower grille. The headlights are borrowed directly from its Suzuki donor car, and angle rearward in an attempt to give the van’s front end a little style. On the rear, you get a set of vertical taillights that at least add a little “something” to the Flairwagon’s odd body.
Mazda doesn’t get into the rim size, but they look rather inadequate and in stark contrast to the extremely tall roof. By the looks of it, these rims are 13 inches in diameter, at the most.
The Flairwagon is offered in five exterior colors, including: Aqua Veil Blue Pearl Metallic, Bloom Pink Metallic, Silky Silver Metallic, Pearl White, and Bluish Black Pearl 3.
The interior has enough seating for four adults, and, as expected, the Flairwagon provides said passengers with more than ample headroom. The rear seats fold and dive downward creating a very large and almost perfectly flat cargo area that can accommodate the length of an average 27-inch bicycle.
Underneath the passenger’s seat is a small storage drawer for keeping items hidden. The upper glove box on the dashboard has a cooling feature, which allows you to place cold drinks in it and keep them cool. It’s no refrigerator, but it will prevent drinks from getting too hot too quickly.
The sliding rear doors have an automatic close feature, which pulls the door closed once you pull it to the halfway point. On every model except the LS trim level, the left sliding door also features a motor to open and close it at the push of a button. Also included on this micro-van is an advanced keyless entry system that boasts a remote start feature.
The overall look of the Flairwagon’s interior is relatively sharp, given the segment it is in. It features a dark and light contrasting dashboard, with the darker color on the top of the dash and the lighter color on the bottom. The gear shifter is one of those odd ones that mounts on the dashboard, which Honda began doing back in the mid-2000s.
Oddly enough, the front seats are almost like a pickup truck, where they are two bucket seats combined to make one bench seat. Mazda is claiming this is to make it easier to transfer from one seat to another, but we don’t know why it would be important to move from seat to seat.
Overall, the interior definitely outshines the exterior, but that’s not too hard to do. The inside is acceptable, but nothing to really write home about.
Engine and Drivetrain
There are two different engine choices for the all-new Flairwagon. The base engine displaces a motorcycle-like 660 cc and boasts a DOHC configuration and variable valve timing, which both help to pump a little extra power from this petite engine. There is no mention of the horsepower it produces, but we anticipate somewhere around 50 to 60 horsepower.
The optional engine on this model, which is only available in the TS trim level, is the same 660 cc engine, but with a small turbocharger strapped to it. Again, there is no mention of its horsepower, but we assume that this turbo would pump that small 660 cc engine up to 75 to 80 horsepower.
There are two drivetrains available on the Flairwagon. The base drivetrain is front-wheel drive and the optional one is full-time 4-wheel drive. Both drivetrain options are available in all the trim levels except one, the IS.
The only transmission available on the 2013 Mazda Flairwagon is a CVT, which we can’t stand, but it does suit this car well, as it is tuned more toward getting great fuel economy. Helping add to its fuel economy is an idle stop and start feature with hill hold.
The combination of the CVT and small engine net this micro-van 17.2 km/l (40.46 mpg) to 22.2 km/l (52.22 mpg), depending on the options chosen.
The 2013 Mazda Flairwagon has a base price of ¥1,212,750 ($15,260), which is the LS trim level with front-wheel drive. The top price on the 2013 Mazda Flairwagon is held by the TS model with 4-wheel drive. This model runs ¥1,499,400 ($18,867).
Well, it looks funny and we don’t hide the fact that we’re not too fond of its exterior appearance. That said, the inside really makes up for it. Yes, it is not a luxury car with all of the fine trimmings and crazy options. This micro-van is compact, yet roomy, and gets stellar gas mileage.
This is one of those cars that you buy only for its usefulness. If you care about the way your car looks, stay away from this one. If you just need a cheap and roomy car to zip your 4-person family around town, this is perfect.
On an aside, there appear to be no plans to release this model in the U.S., and with the failure of the similarly styled Scion Xb , we don’t see this one coming to U.S. showrooms anytime.
- Compact, yet roomy
- Great gas mileage
- Nice interior
- It’s just ugly
- Doesn’t have a lot of power
- Did we mention it’s U-G-L-Y?