Welcome to Ridiculous Rebadges, a series of articles in which I go through and examine the details and circumstances surrounding some of the more infamous and some of the more esoteric vehicular rebadges throughout automotive history.
This rebdage was recommended to me by RazoE. Thanks again!
As you likely know, the Mazda-Ford relationship from 1979 to 2010 has provided several examples for Ridiculous Rebadges to cover. From cab over utility trucks to beige family saloons, many vehicles have been adorned with the flying M and the blue oval alike. Today’s rebadge is similar although it concerns what we Americans know as the Mazda 5, to the rest of the world, the Premacy. In 1999 the Premacy was released as Mazda’s answer to the influx of small minivans such as the Zafira and Picnic. Based on the Mazda 626 chassis, this more of a tall wagon/hatch than an actual minivan, but was good enough that Ford wanted their own version. Now it’s unclear why, but the Ford version, known as the Ixion and manufactured in Taiwan, was only sold in select Asian markets, perhaps because Ford has a greater brand image than Mazda, being an American nameplate. This carried through to the second generation Mazda Premacy which became the first Mazda 5, causing many American gearheads to rejoice about having a stick-shift a minivan. Again, this MPV was altered to become the Ford I-MAX manufactured in Taiwan, different from the Mazda from the front and back but identical from the side profile. Then in 2010, Ford got rid of Mazda and Nissan decided to take up where Ford had left off. Cue the Nissan Lafesta Highway Star, replacing the old super-boxy Lafesta which had previously replaced the smaller Prarie and medium sized Bassara but was still dwarfed by the larger Presage, Serena, and Elgrand, never minding that the Livina and Evalia replaced the Prarie and Bassara in the more compact sector. Ignoring that mess which is Nissan’s Japanese MPV offerings, we find that the new Lafesta Highway Star is just a more attractive Mazda 5, lacking the swoopy Nagare body lines which we have all come to know and hate. The Lafesta Highway Star probably isn’t long for this world, though, since Mazda is phasing out the 5 in favor of CUVs. Keep your eyes peeled for the Lafesta’s replacement: the Nissan Funny Engrish Words That Make No Sense Highway Star Joy Van Happy Wagon.
First Generation Mazda Premacy
Second Generation Mazda Premacy/5
Third Generation Mazda Premacy/5
Nissan Lafesta Highway Star