Archive for December, 2012

North American production of foreign marques to jump in 2014

Published by Mazda Blogs on December 23rd, 2012

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Wards Auto has released its North American Light Vehicle Production Forecast for 2014, and the report predicts foreign manufacturers will increase production on the continent some 3.9 percent by 2014. If accurate, that should see 123,000 additional cars, trucks and vans produced in North America, swelling the total number of units produced both by domestic and foreign manufacturers to 16.9 million light vehicles from a projected 15.6 million in 2013. Much of the increase can be attributed to the fact that Toyota intends to produce another car at its Blue Springs, MS plant as well as a new Lexus model at its Georgetown, KY facility in a year’s time.

Likewise, Volkswagen intends to move production of a currently imported model to its plant in Puebla, Mexico. Daimler, Honda, Nissan and Mazda also plan to build additional models on North American soil for the first time. Around two-thirds of the new North American manufacturing will take place in Mexico, helping the country soak up a full 20 percent of the content’s automotive production for the first time. You can head over to the Wards Auto site for the full report.

North American production of foreign marques to jump in 2014 originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 23 Dec 2012 15:06:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Why the 38-mpg 2014 Mazda6 is on dealer lots, but you can’t drive it

Published by Mazda Blogs on December 21st, 2012

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2014 Mazda6 - front three-quarter view

If you stop by your local Mazda dealer this month, with any luck, you’ll see the much-anticipated 2014 Mazda6 parked in the showroom – there are already a few hundred of them out there. That’s quite an accomplishment in light of the fact that it isn’t even calendar year 2013. The move is part of a strategic decision by the Japanese automaker, which is hoping to capitalize on holiday showroom traffic. (The last five days of the year are typically among the busiest dealer days all year).

If you happen to spy the rakish sedan, you may notice something missing – a window sticker. That’s because Mazda (like other automakers) can’t legally display the Monroney on a 2014 model year vehicle until January 1, 2013. According to Autoblog sources, Mazda dealers are legally prohibited from letting you test drive until the start of 2013, so it’s more of a sneak preview than anything else. Even so, we reckon shoppers will be impressed when they finally get a look at those window stickers – Mazda hasn’t announced fuel economy figures yet, but Autoblog has learned that the 2014 model will carry a pair of impressive numbers: EPA estimates of 27 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway using regular gas.

Mazda dealers are legally prohibited from letting you test drive until the start of 2013, so it’s more of a sneak preview than anything else.

Those figures mirror that of the CVT-equipped 2013 Nissan Altima, but with a bit more power – the document cites figures of 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque from the 2.5-liter Skyactiv four cylinder – figures that are down slightly from the 189 hp and 189 lb-ft overseas example we drove in October. Unlike the Nissan and many of its competitors, the engine can be paired with the buyer’s choice of either a six-speed manual gearbox or automatic. Other key rivals, including the Honda Accord, Kia Optima and Toyota Camry fall short of the Mazda’s economy numbers, though the Kia does offer a bit more power at 200 hp/186 lb-ft.

The 2014 Mazda6 fuel economy figures come courtesy of a “Display Vehicle Playbook” dealer document obtained by Autoblog from an anonymous source. A word of advice – don’t bother trying to cajole your local salesman into an early sale or test drive. Those same dealer materials spell out in no uncertain terms that “there are SIGNIFICANT financial penalties that may be incurred should the vehicle be operated or driven prior to final invoice.” Final invoices will be issued by Mazda district managers just before the car goes on sale January 2.

Unlike its rivals, however, the Mazda6 will only launch with one engine – there is no uplevel V6 or turbocharged gas I4 in the cards. However, Mazda has already confirmed a 2.2-liter Skyactiv turbodiesel powerplant, which is mentioned in the document as having “late 2013 availability.” No fuel economy or power estimates are provided.

Company officials have confirmed to Autoblog that its dealers still have a substantial inventory of 2013 Mazda6 models on lots – around 7,000 units, or about a 100-day supply. With the much more advanced new model already on many lots – set to carry similar pricing – selling through the outgoing model is likely to be a challenge met only with substantial incentives.

Why the 38-mpg 2014 Mazda6 is on dealer lots, but you can’t drive it originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 21 Dec 2012 16:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mazda Production and Sales Results for November 2012 (Flash Report)

Published by Mazda Blogs on December 21st, 2012


Playboy reveals its 2013 Cars of the Year

Published by Mazda Blogs on December 20th, 2012

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Vaunted men’s magazine Playboy knows that its readers are nearly as interested in cars as they are in the female anatomy… sorry, we thought we could write that with a straight face. Anyway, the buff-book does occasionally fill some of its spreads with sexy metal, to accent all the rest of the sexiness.

To wit, the magazine has unveiled its feature on the 2013 Cars of the Year. Without giving us much in the way of criteria for the awards, nor a clear framing of the categories (“Responsible Ride” is a particularly challenging concept, especially when you consider that the Mazdaspeed3 was the winner), Playboy has nevertheless highlighted what we assume to be it’s favorite 12 or 13 (depending on how you count) cars from the 2013 model year.

Headlining the class is the Porsche 911, which Playboy writers single out for having “remarkable electronic voodoo.” BMW M5 is named “Slickest Sports Sedan” though the Cadillac ATS then follows on because “we couldn’t resist giving the new Caddy a shout-out.” The rest of the picks are pretty conventional (save, perhaps, the Honda Fit EV as “Ace Electric”), even if the categories and methodology are fairly wonky. Cruise through or gallery for a taste or check out the full list, here. The site is safe for work, and you can legitimately (this time) say that you were reading it for the articles.

Playboy reveals its 2013 Cars of the Year originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 20 Dec 2012 08:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2014 Mazda6 to start at $20,880*

Published by Mazda Blogs on December 19th, 2012

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2014 Mazda6 - front three-quarter view

We got our very first taste of the impressive 2014 Mazda6 back in October, and had more than a few good things to say about the midsizer. One piece of information that was conspicuous by its absence, however, was a sticker price.

Now, with zero pomp and circumstance (not even a press release as of this writing), Mazda has dropped what looks to be official pricing for the 6 on its consumer website.

$20,880 is the asking price for the base Mazda6 Sport with a manual transmission (plus $795 worth of destination charges, for a total of $21,675). Alaska residents will need to cough up $840 for destination. The loaded-up Mazda6 Grand Touring shown on the site will set you back a total of $30,290 (MSRP of $29,495), but it isn’t clear if that’s the starting price of the Grand Touring trim. Mazda is taking orders for the new 6 right now, and the cars will be available on January 2, 2013.

By way of comparison, the current 2013 model year Mazda6 starts at just $155 less than the new car, with an MSRP of $20,725 (before destination charges) for the base model. Interestingly, the outgoing top-of-the line Grand Touring trim is actually more expensive than the MY14 car on the site, with a sticker of $29,990 to start. We imagine that incentives on leftover 2013 models will start flowing pretty quickly, bringing down their prices quite a bit, but all of this still points to a rocking value proposition for Mazda’s newest model.

2014 Mazda6 to start at $20,880* originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 19 Dec 2012 11:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2013 North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year finalists announced [w/poll]

Published by Mazda Blogs on December 12th, 2012

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North American Car of the Year crystal award

2012 is almost in the books and automakers are spending December gearing up for the 2013 auto show season, which tips off next month at the Detroit Auto Show. Traditionally, the latter opens up with the announcement of the North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year awards, and this year figures to be no different.

But up until this moment, we didn’t know which six vehicles would be parked ahead of the stage as finalists, with executives and engineers waiting for the winners to be disclosed. Whittled down from October’s “short list” of nominees (11 cars and 10 truck/utility vehicles), the finalists are as follows:

2013 North American Car of the Year:

2013 North American Truck/Utility of the Year:

As determined by a non-profit, independent jury of 50 US and Canadian journalists(*), the pair of lists above arguably feature a surprise or two, and they open up some potentially interesting story lines. Will the Ford and Honda, which compete against each other in the marketplace, split votes among jurors who only want to vote for one family sedan? Did the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ twins miss making the finalists’ list because they were listed as separate entries, or did they just not win over enough jurors? Until the voting patterns of the jurors are released (after the awards are announced), we won’t really know if any of these scenarios played into the calculations.

What do you think of these six vehicles? Which would you vote for? Which do you think will win? Participate in our polls below by guessing which vehicles will win, then state your case for who should win in Comments.

*Full disclosure: Author is a NACTOY jury member.

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Continue reading 2013 North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year finalists announced [w/poll]

2013 North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year finalists announced [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 12 Dec 2012 13:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mazda CX-3 details come to light

Published by Mazda Blogs on December 9th, 2012

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2014 Mazda CX-5

Mazda may be working on a new CUV, according to Auto Express. Reportedly called the CX-3, the small crossover will be engineered to take on the likes of the Ford EcoSport and Nissan Juke, but with a focus on fuel efficiency and engaging driving characteristics.

The report names no sources, but says the CX-3 will benefit from a new small-displacement diesel engine. The 1.6-liter oil burner will be joined by a 1.3-liter gasoline engine when the vehicle debuts in 2014. Auto Express reports the model may bow as a front-wheel drive offering only, with no all-wheel-drive option.

And what will it look like? Word has it Mazda will continue to leverage the face we’ve seen on the current CX-5 (pictured). That means the company’s shield grille will make the jump, but with more plastic lower body cladding. Inside, Auto Express says the CX-3 will offer buyers fold-flat rear seating for extra cargo capacity.

Mazda CX-3 details come to light originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 09 Dec 2012 10:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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White House clears way for NHTSA to mandate vehicle black boxes

Published by Mazda Blogs on December 7th, 2012

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automotive black boxAt present, over 90 percent of all new vehicles sold in the United States today are equipped with event data recorders, more commonly known as black boxes. If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gets its way, that already high figure will swell to a full 100 percent in short order.

Such automotive black boxes have been in existence since the 1990s, and all current Ford, General Motors, Mazda and Toyota vehicles are so equipped. NHTSA has been attempting to make these data recorders mandatory for automakers, and according to The Detroit News, the White House Office of Management Budget has just finished reviewing the proposal, clearing the way. Now NHTSA is expected to draft new legislation to make the boxes a requirement.

One problem with current black boxes is that there’s no set of standards for automakers to follow when creating what bits of data are recorded, and for how long or in what format it is stored. In other words, one automaker’s box is probably not compatible with its competitors.

Expect all these issues to be worked out “in the coming months,” according to NHTSA spokeswoman Lynda Tran.

White House clears way for NHTSA to mandate vehicle black boxes originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 07 Dec 2012 10:16:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mazda has right mix to chase 120,000 more US sales

Published by Mazda Blogs on December 5th, 2012

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The Mazda MX-5 Miata was named to Car and Driver magazine’s Ten Best list for the eighth year in a row and for the fourteenth time overall. The CX-5 tops or comes in as runner-up on every AOL Autos staff poll we take on compact crossovers. The Mazda3 is a perennial favorite among auto critics. That’s three clear, unquestioned winners in the Mazda showroom. So, why does Mazda seem to struggle sometimes for recognition and clarity in the marketplace?

For that, I chatted with Mazda North American Operations President, Jim O’Sullivan, who has run the outfit since 2003. O’Sullivan, a former Ford sales and marketing executive who came to Mazda from Dearborn, MI when Ford owned a controlling stake in Mazda, is one of the quieter, but very menchy, leaders in the industry whose longevity in the job speaks to the stability of Mazda.

Continue reading Mazda has right mix to chase 120,000 more US sales

Mazda has right mix to chase 120,000 more US sales originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 05 Dec 2012 15:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mazda MX-5 Miata Super20

Published by Mazda Blogs on December 3rd, 2012

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Mazda MX-5 Miata Super20

The car you see above is the Mazda MX-5 Miata Super20, and as far as we know, it’s the only one out on the road. Oh sure, people have been hotting-up Miatas since the little roadster’s birth some two decades ago, but this Super20 is a hand-crafted Mazda original, first seen at the 2010 SEMA Show and the brought back out for the 2011 expo wearing the color scheme seen here.

It’s very rare that we get to drive conceptual show cars outside of staged ride-and-drive events. Needless to say, when Mazda called and offered us a few days with its sweet little Super20 here in the Motor City, we immediately cleared our schedules.

Over the course of our week with the Super20, both Executive Editor Chris Paukert and I – Paukert being a second-generation (NB) Miata owner, for what it’s worth – were able to flog the little yellow racer. Would this prove to be our favorite Miata yet?

Driving Notes

  • First, let’s get one thing out of the way: It’s unclear exactly how much power is being produced by the supercharged 2.0-liter MZR engine. Mazda’s original press materials suggest somewhere around 250 horsepower for the Cosworth-supercharged mill – a full 83 hp more than the standard, naturally aspirated car. No torque specs were given, but it’s easy to feel the extra thrust of power in the lower end of the powerband.
  • “Despite having a lot more power, the engine is still working way too hard at highway speeds (a sensation amplified by the overly boomy aftermarket exhaust and lack of sound deadening). Time for a taller sixth gear,” Paukert notes.
  • Chris continues, “The ACT street clutch isn’t as friendly in terms of modulation as the stock unit, but it’s easy enough to get used to, and probably necessary considering the extra power the Cosworth supercharged MZR is kicking out.”
  • As for handling, having this extra grunt in the Super20 only proves how great the NC Miata’s chassis is. The Super20 had no issues putting power to the ground with poise, still being immensely forgiving all the while. “It’s enough to make one wish for an intermediate stability control setting with a broader degree of play,” Paukert notes.
  • This thing is a total attention-grabber, and not just because of the unique yellow-and-black color scheme. It’s lower, wider, and looks downright mean because of it. Wherever we took it, the Super20 garnered all sorts of attention from people of all ages (and both sexes).
  • We love the finger-pull door latches – paying a tribute to the ones used on the original NA Miata. A nice homage.
  • Interior is your standard Miata fare, albeit with some suede inserts in the seats. That said, we’d love some more supportive chairs here, as the stock seats don’t provide nearly enough lateral support, something we really noticed while flinging the supercharged Miata around.
  • Weight has been saved throughout the car’s interior, including the removal of the storage and roll bar compartment behind the front seats. A half-cage has been added, as well as a fixed hardtop. Notice how the fuel door release just sort of hangs outside of the center console.
  • We won’t fault the serious NVH issues of this car too much – it was designed to be a concept first and foremost, after all – but man, this thing is loud, and everything inside the car rattles. The fixed roof is no better for sound deadening than the normal soft top.
  • All in, the Super20 makes us wish for a proper stripped-out track day special edition. An all-new Miata is still probably at least two years away, so a more hardcore version would certainly be enough to keep enthusiasts entertained until then.

Mazda MX-5 Miata Super20 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 03 Dec 2012 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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