Every car company has its own business philosophy. That sounds sort of boring, the kind of stuff employees and the press have to sit through during meetings, but Mazda is a bit different. Its philosophy isn’t just something that makes for pretty slogans. Instead it represents a genuine and unique attitude among its employees.

Mazda flew a small group of influencers out to San Diego during what they call June Gloom. I’m from the East Coast, so in my mind, California is perpetually sunny and warm. Turns out that’s not the case in certain areas during the month of June.

There wasn’t much sun, it was a little chilly, and I found the jackets I still had from my last adventure in Portland, Oregon came in handy. You might think that would make for a disappointing trip. Nope. The experience of Mazda, getting to know the designers and creators behind their products, and spending some time behind the wheel of two of their cars couldn’t be dampened by the lack of sunshine.

The event was held at the stunning Rancho Valencia. The property is beautiful with spacious villas that made it feel more like a home than a hotel in the same way driving a Mazda is more about the experience than simply driving a car. For our stay, the expansive front lawn was decorated not with tables and chairs, but with the Mazda lineup.Mazda in SanDiego2

There was everything from the fun, little Mazda Miata to the practical CX-9 complete with bikes on the roof. Our strolling dinner had us wandering among the cars, getting to know each other, and excitedly talking about the next day’s adventure.

That adventure included some seat time in the new MX-5 Miata RF, which is the hardtop version of the iconic roadster. It has the same spirit, fun, and exceptional drive as the soft-top, but with a retractable hardtop over your head. Okay, it really wasn’t over my head that much because June Gloom be darned, we put the top down the whole time.Mazda in SanDiego4

This new version of the little roadster starts at $31,555 and is 155-horsepower of pure joy. You just try to stay grumpy behind the wheel of this thing. I dare you. You can’t do it. If you happen to know how to drive a manual transmission, then this your car. There is nothing quite so fun as snapping through the gears with the top down on twisting country roads.

Our time in the RF took us to the Temecula Olive Oil company where we had the chance to do a little tasting. We all gathered at the outdoor tasting bar and tried oils flavored with jalapeno, grapefruit, vanilla, and basil. Each was more amazing than the next, and when they combined the oils with their equally delicious balsamic vinegars, it was heaven.

A short walk took us right into the olive grove where we had lunch among the trees. Tasty sandwiches, a potato salad that was to die for, and brownies flavored with their orange olive oil made for a truly magical lunch experience.Mazda in SanDiego6

The next leg of our journey had us swapping our MX-5 Miata RF for the all-new CX-5 crossover. It might not be the small, sporty, Miata, but it’s still a Mazda so it’s incredibly fun to drive. At a starting price of $25,915, the CX-5 is an affordable crossover with the style of something more expensive. The interior is quiet, comfortable, and downright plush in higher trim levels.Mazda in SanDiego7

Our day wrapped up with dinner back at Rancho Valencia and another unique experience. There was no fancy display of cars. Instead, there was a hunk of clay, but it was a hunk of clay with a story.

Your car doesn’t just spring to life from a designer’s mind. Instead, it’s a labor-intensive process that includes an artist who designs the initial shape from a block of brown clay.

Mazda had their designer on hand to show us the tools of his trade and even let us give it a try. Amazingly, his whole family is involved in the auto business sculpting clay models that will one day be the cars parked in our driveways.

Throughout our Journey with Mazda, the people involved in making its cars were on hand to talk about their experiences with the company. There were PR people, designers, and product experts who each came with a very different set of skills and responsibilities.

Despite those differences, it was clear they were unified behind one goal. The people at Mazda strive to build a car that’s more than a car. Much like they created an incredible experience to showcase their brand during our adventure, the Mazda team creates cars that fit your life and make the experience of driving a joy.

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