Archive for November, 2013
Looking at recent spy shots of the fourth-generation Mazda Miata, it’s obvious this sporty little roadster will grow in size compared to the current model, but it’s also going on a diet. At the Tokyo Motor Show, Auto Motor und Sport sat down with Mazda executive Kiyoshi Fujiwara, who gave a little more insight into the Miata’s redesign.
Fujiwara said that they’re aiming for a curb weight of a tonne (metric ton), which is 1,000 kilograms or right around 2,200 pounds, for the next-generation Miata. This would make the roadster at least 300 pounds lighter than the current NC Miata, but still about 200 pounds heavier than the original NA.
There is no indication as to how Mazda will go about removing that much weight from the bigger car, but with as popular as the power retractable hard top (PHRT) model is on the current car, the new Miata may ditch this feature to lose its weight. Improving the power-to-weight ratio appears to be a key goal of the Mazda team, so we also wouldn’t be surprised to see a more powerful engine underneath the longer hood.
Next Mazda MX-5 Miata to weigh a ton(ne), literally originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 27 Nov 2013 10:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
We can’t ever think of a time we’ve heard anyone accuse the current Mazda2 of being too edgy, which makes reports of a softer design for the next-gen model a little surprising. Autocar reports that when the new 2 debuts next fall, it will have a “softer, more feminine appeal” than the current design.
This description lends a little more credibility to the Japanese magazine image we saw of the car back in July. Aside from Mazda’s Kodo-inspired signature face, that picture did reveal softer lines, especially along the side of the car. This softened styling is to appeal to the car’s target market, which Mazda’s European design chief is reported to have called a “predominantly feminine customer base.” Last we heard, though, Mazda might keep the next 2 out of the US due to slow sales.
The 2015 Mazda2 will reportedly ride on a shortened version of the platform used for the CX-5, but Autocar mentions that its platform could also be the basis of a new subcompact crossover – possibly to go up against vehicles like the Buick Encore and the upcoming Honda Fit-based crossover called the Vezel.
Next-gen Mazda2 designed for ‘predominantly feminine’ appeal originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 26 Nov 2013 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Mazda has received a tremendous amount of public and industry praise in the last few years, following up the successful introduction of its Skyactiv technology (powertrain and otherwise), with strong products like CX-5, Mazda6 and most recently, the Mazda3. At the Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda has taken yet another step forward with Skyactiv and the 3, showing the compact (called “Axela” in Japan) with an all-new compressed natural gas engine in the Skyactiv-CNG Concept.
The end result of the Skyactiv-Hybrid is fuel consumption estimated at something like 74 miles per gallon.
Mazda thinks that CNG-powered vehicles are due for an uptick in demand, and the company believes this new powertrain will add valuable breadth to the Mazda3 range. The CNG Concept is actually a duel-fuel vehicle, capable of running on either natural gas or gasoline. In fact, we’re told that the high compression ratio (14:1) inherent in Skyactiv-technology gasoline engines makes conversion to CNG particularly simple.
Perhaps more interesting is the unveiling of Mazda’s first-ever hybrid powertrain, aptly named Skyactiv-Hybrid. The new system, which is only slated for the Japanese market at this point, connects an electric motor to a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine, using it to assist at low engine speeds and under low-load conditions. The electric motor is supplied by a nickel-metal hydride battery of unstated capacity.
The end result of the Skyactiv-Hybrid in the Mazda3 is fuel consumption estimated at 3.2 liters per 1,000 kilometers on the lenient Japanese cycle, or something like 74 miles per gallon, and total system output of around 134 horsepower (136 PS).
You’ll find slightly more information about the Skyativ-Hybrid and the Skyativ-CNG Concept in the press release below.
Mazda3 Skyactiv-Hybrid and CNG Concept shown in Japan originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Nov 2013 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Change! Unlike last year, in which Car and Driver’s 10Best list was populated with almost exactly the same vehicles as the year before – the only change between 2012 and 2013 was that the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ twins took the position previously occupied by the Cadillac CTS-V. By contrast, 2014 brings with it several notable additions and subtractions. But first, let’s look at what carries over from 2013 to ’14: the Audi A6/A7/S6/S7 family, the BMW 3 Series/4 Series family, the Honda Accord, Porsche Boxster/Cayman and Volkswagen Golf/GTI.
That’s a mighty fine list of machinery there, to be sure. But you may notice a few glaring omissions, most notably, in our eyes at least, the Mazda MX-5 Miata. For those keeping track, the little Japanese sports car had been on the list for eight consecutive years, ending in 2013, for a total of 14 appearances since hitting the market in 1989. Given the model’s age and the rest of this new 10 Best list, we don’t think Mazda will be too disappointed, however. Also missing is the Ford Focus/Focus ST and Mustang, which made it in 2013 in GT and Boss 302 guises. Finally, the Honda Fit falls off, along with the aforementioned FR-S and BRZ coupes.
So, fully half of last year’s 10Best cars were removed for 2014. Here are the new faces:
Want to know the reasoning behind what’s leftover and what’s brand new? Head on over to Car and Driver for the complete rundown, scroll down below for a video, and feel free to let us know what you think of the magazine’s 10Best Cars for 2014 in the Comments.
Car and Driver releases 2014 10Best list, Miata’s 8-year run ends [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Nov 2013 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
We have some very sad news to report, rotor-heads fans: Don’t expect a new rotary-powered vehicle anytime soon. This comes straight from Masamichi Kogai, the CEO of Mazda, which is the only company to ever market a commercially successful rotary-powered automobile in the world. The issue, as it has pretty much always been, is environmental.
While the Wankel rotary engine does indeed make a lot of power in a small, lightweight package, it does so while burning lots of fuel and emitting lots of noxious gases into the atmosphere, at least when running on gasoline. And that means the rotary engine will likely only ever be able to power niche vehicles. And that, in turn, means that it is very difficult to turn a profit on vehicles with rotary engines, particularly for a small automaker like Mazda.
“It has to be a viable commercial proposition. If we are going to adopt it, it has to be a product that can generate at least sales of 100,000 units a year. We have to be able to achieve a profit,” said Kogai in an interview with Automotive News. Mazda sold 56,203 RX-7 models in the United States (the automaker’s biggest market) in 1986. Sales of the RX-8 peaked in 2004, its first full year on the market, with just 23,690 units.
There is a sliver of hope, though. “We are the first and only manufacturer to commercialize the rotary engine. In that respect, we have some responsibility,” said Kogai. Research will continue on the rotary engine at Mazda, and, since the engine will run on a wide variety of fuels, including hydrogen, it is possible that we’ll see a rotary return on an alternate fuel sometime in the not-too-near future.
Mazda CEO says rotary not viable, so don’t look for a new one originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 19 Nov 2013 14:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
The recently appointed CEO of Mazda is apparently quite the optimist, claiming that the Japanese brand, renowned for its Zoom-Zoom driving character (and more recently its sleek, refined designs and Skyactiv efficiency), is claiming the company will record its best-ever US sales within the next two years. According to a report from Automotive News, Masamichi Kogai expects Mazda to move 400,000 of its Kodo-styled vehicles in the increasingly competitive US market by March 2016, with the recently launched Mazda3 leading the charge. “It will impacted considerably by the trend of the U.S. industry. But… it’s my hope we achieve the record by that time,” Kogai tells AN.
The brand is currently targeting 300,000 units by the end of this fiscal year in March 2014. Given that production and sales of the Mazda3 (and consumer awareness of the 2014 Mazda6) is still picking up steam, it isn’t a stretch to imagine Mazda, which sold 240,000 vehicles from January to October of 2013, hitting its target.
Along with the overall increase in sales numbers, Kogai is expecting the independent brand to take an even larger slice of the US sales pie, claiming 2.5 percent US market share, improving from its current 1.9-percent foothold so far in 2013. “I think the upper limit may be 2.5 percent for the time being,” Kogai told AN, before pointing out, “We don’t want to use a lot of incentives. That is not the sales approach we aspire toward.”
Mazda CEO predicts record US sales in next 2 years originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 18 Nov 2013 18:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Mazda has unveiled its latest challenger in the top flight of endurance racing, a diesel-powered prototype that will campaign the inaugural, 2014 Tudor United SportsCar Championship. The new Skyactiv-D-powered car will make its race debut at January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“This is the most significant step Mazda has taken towards returning to the global racing stage since our overall victory at Le Mans in 1991,” said the director of Mazda Motorsports, John Doonan. That historic racecar, the rotary-powered 787B, has grown to become one of Mazda’s many, well-known racers.
More recently, the Japanese brand has been making waves in the Grand-Am series, campaigning RX-8s and, most recently, running diesel-powered Mazda6 sedans in the GX-class. Mazda will campaign two factory-backed prototypes at Daytona. Driver lineups will be announced closer to race day.
Take a look below for a press release from Mazda on its latest racing effort.
Mazda returning to top-tier racing with diesel-powered prototype in USCC originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 14 Nov 2013 13:40:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Participants in the annual LA Design Challenge always manage to come up with edgy, wacky designs for future vehicles, but with a theme of “Biomimicry and Mobility: 2025″ this year’s crop of cars might be the quirkiest we’ve ever seen. As usual, automotive designers from around the world participated in this year’s competition, and all the designs will all be unveiled next week during the LA Auto Show with a winner being announced on November 21.
Chinese automakers made a strong showing with Qoros, SAIC Motor, JAC Motors (the company responsible for the Ford F-150 clone) and Changfeng all bringing interesting takes on the biology, human intelligence and sustainability theme. One of the more innovative ideas among these automakers is the Qoros Silk Road System allows autonomous vehicles to drive in packs similar to how ants travel. Speaking of ants, the SAIC Motor Mobiliant (shown above) gets its design from the shape of an ant’s body, and, like the insect, it can climb building acting as a personal elevator as well. The JAC Motors design also merges vehicle and building design, while the Changfeng LaBrea inspired by the design of muscle fibers.
Other entrants include Subaru and US-based design teams for BMW, Toyota and Mazda. BMW’s duo of concepts mimic plant and animal life. The LA Subways concept acts as a submersible, single-person vehicle to take advantage of the LA river, with a shape similar to an Ocean Sunfish. The Sustainable Efficient Exploratory Device (SEED) imitates the shape of a seed pod, and uses propulsion methods inspired by a shark, dragonfly and a water bug. Mazda’s Auto Adapt might be the most car-like concept of the bunch, while the Subaru Suba-Roo and the Calty-designed, Toyota e-grus are the most mind-blowingly awesome.
Scroll down to check out all nine design studies, and then vote on your favorite in the poll below.
LA Design Challenge invokes biology for 2025 concepts [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 13 Nov 2013 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Ring one up for Mazda. The Japanese brand’s midsize offering, the Mazda6, has been named Popular Mechanics‘ Car of the Year. The 6 received a comprehensive reworking for the 2014 model year that saw it adopt sleek, sexy sheet metal; a clean, logical interior; and powertrain technologies that allow it to net some of the best fuel economy available in a gas-powered, non-hybrid sedan.
Popular Mechanics praised the 6’s Skyactiv 2.5-liter, 184-horsepower engine, as well as its agility and responsiveness during testing. It also remarked on the functional, but well designed cabin, and the degree of available technology.
“The Mazda6 really impressed us with how well it delivers so many things modern car owners want: great mileage, fun road-handling, upscale features and looks – and remarkable value,” said Jim Meigs, Editor-in-Chief of Popular Mechanics.
“To be named Car of the Year by a publication as esteemed as Popular Mechanics is as flattering as it is humbling,” said Mazda’s president and CEO, Jim O’Sullivan.
Besides crowning the Mazda6 as Car of the Year, Popular Mechanics named the new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray as its Performance Car of the Year, the Nissan Versa Note as its Value Car, the new Ram Heavy Duty as its Hauler, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class as its Technical Innovation of the Year. Scroll down for the official press release from Mazda and Popular Mechanics.
2014 Mazda6 earns Popular Mechanics’ ‘Car of the Year’ originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 12 Nov 2013 14:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.