Posts Tagged ‘design’

Fiat reconsidering Mazda-based Alfa Romeo roadster? [w/poll]

Published by Mazda Blogs on March 3rd, 2014

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Alfa Romeo 2uettottanta by Pininfarina

Alfa giveth and Alfa taketh away. With apologies to Job (he has gone through a lot, after all), that’s how things are looking at the Italian automaker – whether it’s the promise of new products or its impending return to the North American market. But it’s especially true when it comes to new roadsters.

While Alfa Romeo is expected to unveil the 4C Spider at the Geneva Motor Show this week, reports are now suggesting that its other roadster project is being called into question. That project is a joint venture between Fiat and Mazda, which was set to produce a version of its next MX-5 Miata as an Alfa Romeo, and was even changing the design to accommodate Alfa’s requirements.

Now it appears, however, that the whole project in doubt. The problem seems to stem from Sergio Marchionne’s pronouncements that, as long as he’s in charge, there won’t be an Alfa Romeo built outside of Italy.

The principal poses some problems, but also leaves some windows open. For one, it could mean that the Alfa project would be postponed until after Marchionne retires, but that’s not expected to happen any time soon. For another, it could mean that the Alfa roadster would be developed by Mazda and based on its architecture, but assembled back in Italy – although the deal is said to call for Mazda to do the manufacturing. The prospect that our colleagues at at Automotive News Europe are betting on, however, is that Marchionne will switch its commitment to Mazda to another brand.

Eliminating Ferrari, Maserati and Lancia as possibilities, ANE figures the project could be transferred to either Fiat or the Abarth performance brand. Bertone’s Fiat Barchetta concept looked promising in 2007, and Abarth was long rumored to get its own roadster – and both manufacture outside of Italy as it is. But for that matter, we wonder why – with Fiat and Chrysler now under the same umbrella – it couldn’t be done instead as a Dodge or SRT. The Copperhead concept of 1997 and the Demon of 2008 did show some promise, after all. What do you think?

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Fiat reconsidering Mazda-based Alfa Romeo roadster? [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 03 Mar 2014 10:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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World Car finalists announced

Published by Mazda Blogs on February 13th, 2014

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2013 World Car Awards

The 2014 World Car of the Year Awards are set to be handed out at the upcoming New York International Auto Show, meaning now is about the time we can start talking about finalists. The official list has been published and we’ll admit, there are some surprising entries here.

Selected by 69 jurors from around the world, the list includes some obvious entries – the new Audi A3, Cadillac CTS and Ford Fusion/Mondeo, along with some other, unexpected cars. The polarizing Jeep Cherokee and Lexus IS both made the cut.

We have the entire list of potential winners available in the official WCOTY press release, and we’ve assembled a gallery of the finalists at the top of the page. You can also scroll down to see the finalists for the luxury, performance, green and design awards. Three finalists will be announced from each group at the Geneva Motor Show, before the winners are announced in the Big Apple.

The 2013 World Car of the Year (shown above) was handed to the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf. Scroll down for the official press release, and then be sure to head to Comments and let us know what you agree and disagree with.

Continue reading World Car finalists announced

World Car finalists announced originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 13 Feb 2014 09:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mazda poaches designer Kevin Rice back from BMW

Published by Mazda Blogs on October 30th, 2013

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Kevin Rice

Kevin Rice left Mazda a baker’s dozen years ago, but now he’s back.

A graduate of the Transportation Design program at Coventry University (just across town from Jaguar headquarters), Rice worked his way up in the industry working for the likes of Opel and Italdesign Giugiaro before landing a job at Mazda. Between 1995 and 2000, he collaborated on such projects as the RX-8 and the 1999 Neospace concept that previewed the Mazda2 before moving on to BMW, where the new 3 Series and 4 Series were among the last projects he worked on during his 13-year tenure in Munich.

Now back at Mazda, Rice has been named the Japanese automaker’s new creative director, charged with further honing the brand’s KODO design language from its European headquarters in Oberursel, Germany. We’re looking forward to seeing what he and his design team come up with in the coming years.

Continue reading Mazda poaches designer Kevin Rice back from BMW

Mazda poaches designer Kevin Rice back from BMW originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 30 Oct 2013 11:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2014 Mazda6 i Sport

Published by Mazda Blogs on February 1st, 2013

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2014 Mazda6

In an automotive landscape dominated by platform sharing, technology exchange and any number of other cross-fertilization/cost-saving/amortization exercises, it’s actually pretty rare that we get to drive a new car that is as “all-new” as this, the 2014 Mazda6. With brand-spanking new Skyactiv architecture throughout – engine, transmission, body and chassis all included – this 6 represents a new era of flexible production and cutting edge running gear for the happily lithe car company.

Our own Jonathon Ramsey did a cracking job of running the Mazda6 through its First Drive paces a few months ago, and sufficiently impressed upon us just how good looking a car this is for the midsize sedan segment. Suffice it to say, now, then, that this is easily the most interesting (and quite possibly the most beautiful) midsize sedan in the segment today. However, as Mr. Ramsey reviewed a fully contented example of the 6 – one equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission – we took advantage of Mazda’s North American launch event of the car to suss out the base Mazda6 i Sport, complete with its six-speed Skyactiv manual gearbox. This may not shock you, but the stripper’s pretty good, too.

Driving Notes

  • We’ll get right down to the meat of it: The manual transmission is far better than the average do-it-yourself gearbox in this segment. Throws of the gearlever are light, short, and easy to put home with confidence. The clutch pedal, similarly, is very low-effort, but with a broad catch point that’s simple to operate in every driving situation we encountered. This isn’t a hewn-from-billet shifting experience, naturally, but it is a manual transmission that can be used with satisfaction in spirited driving, or mindlessly on the shopping run. The transmission is just perfectly suited to the power delivery of the smooth 2.5-liter motor, too.
  • The Sport trim car we tested had zero options – quite a rarity in the media fleet. Still, we found the cabin to be pretty accommodating and comfortable. The most noticeable interior bits on this base-level are the all-cloth seats and the old school head unit where the touchscreen display usually lives. The seats were fine – soft to the touch and seemingly resilient, with just a bit of gloss and texture to make them feel upscale without the cowhide. The head unit, meanwhile, while perfectly functional (and sure to be embraced by the Luddite set in our comments section), was both drab and old-fashioned looking. Naturally, the instrument panel was designed to accommodate a touchscreen – this is the 21st Century, after all – so its lack of one hampers the design. For one thing, the lack of color and brightness afforded by the display makes the dash look sort of dark and dreary by comparison.
  • So, just how inexpensive is the base model Mazda6 i Sport? The literal answer is $21,675 after the $795 destination fee has been added on. That’s pretty good, we thought. The relative answer is, of course, slightly more complicated. In a tooth-and-nail segment like this one, you’d expect pricing among the heavyweight players to be very close, and it is. Still, the new 6 is almost the class-leader. Comparing optionless, base-model MSRPs, plus destination charges, we find this: Toyota Camry is $23,030, Nissan Altima is $22,550, Honda Accord is $22,470 and Ford Fusion is $22,245. Volkswagen’s most basic Passat is just $21,640 though – about a night at the movies with your wife (not the kids) cheaper than the Mazda.
  • Mazda is in zero danger of loosing its ballyhooed Zoom-Zoom appeal with this 6 – the handling experience is impressive. While we were perhaps a bit less bullish about the car’s nimbleness on our test drive through some very hilly, winding Texas Hill Country roads than when cruising through the French countryside (again, see our First Drive), we still found the thing to be pretty tossable. Reactions to steering inputs, especially, were impressively fast for a car this big and long. The steering experience itself was a bit weightless, with not enough of a transition from on-lock to off-lock feeling of heft, but still very accurate and easy to modulate in a quick corner. Suspension response was admirable, too, on fast switchbacks. For all of that, the cruising ride didn’t suffer, though road and tire noise on the freeway was higher than we’d like.
  • Mazda will doubtlessly sell a lot of examples of this new Mazda6 based on its stunning sheetmetal and high levels of content in the middle/upper trims. Good to know that the base car is still pretty sweet then; and still a pleasantly differentiated product in a segment filled with one-upmanship.

2014 Mazda6 i Sport originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 01 Feb 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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More 2014 Mazda6 teasers released

Published by Mazda Blogs on July 25th, 2012

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Just hours ago, a high-resolution teaser shot of the 2014 Mazda6 leaked onto the internet, giving us a very clear glimpse of the new sedan’s front fascia. Not to be outdone, Mazda has responded by releasing three more high-res images of the new car, which we’ve learned will officially debut at the 2012 Moscow Auto Show next month.

After looking at the new quartet of images, along with the series of teaser videos – all one, two, three, four of them – there’s little to be left to the imagination when it comes to the design of Mazda’s rakish new sedan. From what we can see so far, this thing looks mighty handsome. The company’s new Kodo design language is certainly flaunting its stuff here, with a more aggressive front fascia and upswept profile line that, like the CX-5, gives the car the impression of being “up on its haunches,” as one Mazda representative described it to us once.

Right now, all we know is that Mazda plans to debut its new midsize sedan with a 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G gasoline four-cylinder, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The Japanese automaker has also stated that the 2014 Mazda6 will feature the company’s new i-ELOOP (short for Intelligent Energy Loop) capacitor-based regenerative braking system that will, according to Mazda, “improve economy by up to 10 percent.”

Following the Russian-spec car’s debut on August 29, the rest of the world will have to wait until the Paris Motor Show in late September to see exactly what’s in store for each individual market. Scroll down for Mazda’s official press blast.

Continue reading More 2014 Mazda6 teasers released

More 2014 Mazda6 teasers released originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 25 Jul 2012 01:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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