Read on for a closer look at some of the key similarities, differences and USPs offered by the Japanese brands, which have established a formidable presence on British roads.
Based in the Hiroshima Prefecture, Mazda Motor Corporation is a Japanese multinational automaker, which was founded in 1920. In the modern day, the company is the 17th largest auto manufacturer in the world in terms of units produced, and famous for its 'Zoom-Zoom' brand message inspired by "the love of motion experienced as a child."
Also based in Japan, Suzuki Motor Corporation was founded in 1909 and is currently distributed in almost 200 countries. It produced just over double the number of units compared to Mazda, coming 11th in the global rankings. However, after launching their first motorcycle in the 1950s, the company has been equally famous for its two-wheel successes, becoming the first Japanese manufacturer to claim a motocross world championship in 1970.
In terms of price, Suzuki's smallest base models are slightly more affordable than those offered by Mazda. The trend becomes more noticeable in the larger models, with the Mazda CX-5 significantly pricier than Suzuki's comparable Vitara SUV. While some drivers prefer the prestige of Mazda, others embrace the affordability of Suzuki.
Mazda offers a wide range of models to suit every caliber of driver - from the CX-5, a mid-size family SUV featuring the brand's signature KODO Design and cutting-edge SKYACTIV Technology, to the compact Mazda 2 and hatchback. Also in the mix are the Mazda 3 saloon and Mazda 6 tourer, as larger family cars. Elsewhere, the MX-5 convertible and fastback are available for the roadster market.
From Suzuki come models like the Vitara, featuring bold SUV styling and powerful performance. The Swift supermini and Ignis city car appeal to urban drivers. Suzuki also offers the rugged Jimny three door, engineered for serious off-roading. The design was originally developed by the Hope Motor Company in the late 60s, but was sold to Suzuki in 1968. Since then the sturdy off-roader has gained its own foothold in the market and even set the world record for the highest altitude reached in a four-wheel vehicle (6,688m). The fourth-generation, launched in 2018, combines the retro boxed design with a four-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine.
Technology and engineering
Mazda is known for its SKYACTIV Technology, developed in 2011 to boost fuel efficiency and engine output. SKYACTIV-X is the next generation of this technology and combines the benefits of both petrol and diesel engines, with Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) used to deliver incredible acceleration, power and eco performance.
On the other hand, Suzuki has launched its own new-generation engine in the form of the BoosterJet. By directly injecting the right amount of fuel into cylinders and creating the ideal air-fuel mixture, the BoosterJet delivers dynamic performance with high fuel efficiency and lower emissions. That’s paired with Dualjet technology on Swift models, which uses two fuel injectors per cylinder to further improve efficiency.
Connectivity and entertainment
For many drivers the freedom to connect and drive is a top priority. Suzuki delivers with features like Apple Car Play or Android Auto, DAB digital radio and Bluetooth integrated into the audio unit. Mazda matches that with an inbuilt Mazda Connect infotainment system that keeps you connected with the ability to make calls, receive texts and use personal assistants handsfree. Other premium features include Apple Car Play or Android Auto. However, while Mazda offers some version of Connect on all its models, the lower-spec Suzuki counterparts may be lacking the equivalent features.
All Mazda designs are inspired by a Japanese tradition called Jinba Ittai, which symbolises the natural connection between a horse and its rider. Every model is engineered to spark emotion and offer pure driving pleasure. Suzuki takes a more light-hearted, playful approach to auto design, with a focus on fun and functionality.
Drivers who value safety love Mazda innovations like i-ACTIV All-Wheel-Drive, which uses 27 inbuilt wheel sensors to scan driving conditions 200 times a second. Other features include i-ACTIVSENSE safety technologies to detect dangers and road hazards.
Suzuki offers a similar ALLGRIP 4-wheel Drive system designed to enhance safety in challenging road conditions. Even in smaller models like the Swift, you'll see sophisticated safety features like an Advanced Forward Detection System with Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist, Weaving Alert and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Emissions, eco credentials and BIK
The lowest emissions offered by Mazda are from the Mazda 2, with an official CO2 rating of 94g/km, MPG of 53.3 and a BIK price of £17,310. The eco-friendliest version of the Suzuki Swift offers CO2 emissions of 94g/km, official MPG of 56.4 and a BIK price of £13,324.
Of course, Mazda is also making waves with the MX-30, the brand's first battery-powered electric vehicle. Offering a range of 124 miles, as well as a spacious interior, sporty aesthetic and excellent driving dynamics, the MX-30 is on track to become a bestseller. With 9000 EV charging stations now dotted across the UK, topping up the battery will be easier than ever for drivers.
On the other hand, Suzuki offers innovations like the SHVS hybrid (Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki) engineered to reduce CO2 emissions and enhance fuel efficiency. SHVS combines petrol and electric in a system that’s smaller and lighter than the typical hybrid engine.
That’s paired with an Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) to assist the engine during set off and acceleration, keeping things smooth and quiet. The ISG also uses regenerative braking to generate electricity and maximise efficiency.
In terms of popularity in the UK, Mazda comes up trumps. The latest data from YouGov crowns the Mazda 6 as the 55th most popular car model in the UK out of 137 models listed, with drivers drawn to its executive aesthetic and outstanding performance, comfort and safety credentials. Close behind is the Mazda 3 in 78th place and CX-5 in 89th place. The Suzuki Swift makes an entrance as the 94th most popular car model in the UK.