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Ferrari and Mazda join recall rush

Just as things are calming after Toyota's eight-million-vehicle mistakes in the USA and Europe, Mazda is hit with a 90,000-car recall in Japan and China.

Australia has again dodged the recall, which only applies to a specific model of the Mazda3 not sold here, but things are looking tougher for even the world's most-admired brands. "The Mazda3 is not affected in Australia," says company spokesman Steve Maciver. "It's only the 1.6-litre engine, which we do not get here."

But Toyota Australia was forced to recall the latest Prius hybrid for tweaking of the braking system; elderly Daihatsus have been recalled - ironically, under the Toyota banner; and Great Wall was forced to recall the first batch of its Chinese twin-cab utes to rectify a seat belt problem.

Even Suzuki, which has one of the lowest warranty-claim rates in the country, was forced to recall the baby Alto because of a problem with wiring to the stoplights. Suzuki Australia is still sourcing a replacement stoplamp switch and will contact owners.

Then there is Toyota USA, which is hit with another cloud over the Lexus GS460. It's a heavyweight SUV which is built up from the Prado and, thanks to an unsafe rating by the influential magazine 'Consumer Reports', sales have been stopped while the company conducts safety tests. It is responding to claims the car can develop a tail slide, leading to a rollover, in an emergency situation. Once again, Toyota Australia is responding with a 'no panic' reply.

"The Lexus GX460 is not and has never been sold in Australia. Toyota Motor Corporation Japan has advised us that Prado is not affected by the sales stop. It has a smaller engine and significantly less weight overall, particularly over the front wheels, says Toyota and Lexus spokesman, Mike Breen. Toyota is even putting a positive spin on the Lexus development.

"This is firm evidence of Toyota’s stated intention to respond even more quickly to ensure quality and customer satisfaction. It shows that Toyota is taking the matter seriously and are determined to identify and correct the issue that was identified," Breen says. "Having done that, Toyota Motor Corporation has adopted its normal approach of conducting further tests on other SUVs. These vehicles have already undergone extensive testing and Toyota is confident they meet its high safety standards. Toyota is therefore conducting these tests as an additional measure to ensure customer confidence."

And it's not just cheap-and-cheerful car brands that get caught up in recalls. Ferrari is also suffering after recalling more than 2000 of its F355 model fitted with a single fuel pump system and sold in the 1990s. Ferrari says it will be contacting known owners so their cars can be checked for a problem with the fuel system pipes.

Porsche, meanwhile, plans to recall 152 of its all-new Panamera flagship, which sells from $270,000 to $365,000. They have to be checked for faulty seatbelt mounting points.