Posts Tagged ‘quick spin’

2014 Mazda6 Skyactiv-D Wagon

Published by Mazda Blogs on February 21st, 2013

Filed under: , , , ,

2014 Mazda6 Skyactiv-D Wagon - profile view

This was sort of a quirky surprise drive opportunity. I’ve been over here in Italy for a while now, and Mazda Italia contacted me seemingly out of the blue to drive test some version of the Mazda6 with a diesel engine. Supremo. The Mazda6 is a sexy everyday beast and I have been digging their SkyActiv-D engines for a while now. Very spirited units.

My contact phones me the day of, and says he can come by with the car, and then we’ll head off to some sort of special spot for dynamics testing and technical conversation. Nice deal, say I.

My guy Ernesto pulls up outside of the house and – lo and behold – it’s a dang Mazda6 station wagon with the very most recent 2.2-liter SkyActiv-D motor good for 148 horsepower and healthy 280 pound-feet of torque. The wee four-banger with 14.0:1 compression ratio hauls this 3,260-pound wagon around with the best of them. A decent 0-to-60-mph time of 8.7 seconds, too.

Best touch? This one had the standard six-speed manual gearbox. We at Autoblog know how we bend a few noses the wrong way with our open cravings for exactly this sort of un-American car setup. But, oh my, did we have a good day together.

Driving Notes

  • First off, the Mazda6 sedan we just tested is a fine-looking conveyance. But if you like wagons like I do, this 2013 Mazda6 wagon is even finer. To my eyes, it doesn’t overdo it like some Infiniti models or the Nissan Juke, and any references to the swoopy Fisker Karma soon fade away. Mazda’s “Kodo” (“Soul of Motion”) design approach just works.
  • I was so geeked that this was a wagon. And the six-speed manual mated with the SkyActiv-D engine just took it over the top. Before hopping in, I noticed the optional set of really nice 19-inch wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Turanza T001 treads, the latest vintage of this fine rubber.
  • Ernesto tells me that I am the very first in all of Italy to drive this engine trim outside of the company testers. “What about the Italian journos?,” I ask. He smiles and shrugs, meaning, “Too bad for them, I guess.”
  • This revvy and strong 2.2-liter turbodiesel is not the 173-hp tune that arrives in the U.S. later this year in the sedan, but it would do just fine on American roads. If the hp bump seems modest on the trim we’ll get, well, the torque bump is also a mild 30 lb-ft. Acceleration to 60 mph will be only a half-second quicker and fuel use will increase, though it will still be good at about 30 miles per gallon city and 40 mpg highway.
  • We pulled up outside of a go-kart track I know out in the middle of the northern Italian flatlands. Ernesto tells me this is the place. Seriously? Yes, seriously. Ever whipped a front-wheel-drive family wagon with manual shifter and small diesel engine around a karting circuit? Me either.
  • The terrific Turanza tires were smoking freely under the cranking enthusiasm of the 2.2-liter four. All of the torque was there at 1,800 revs and the action of the manual shifter proved smooth and precise. It was easy to heel-and-toe at all times – this, on an extremely tight kart track, not an open road with time to think built-in.
  • The wagon handled my induced-oversteer moves well, with superb steering and exceptional weight transfers exceptional. (It’s like this on almost any hopped-up wagon I’ve driven even a little like this. For instance, I prefer the Mini Cooper S JCW Clubman on a hot circuit versus the hardtop for this very reason).
  • All traction nannies were off and Ernesto and I were having a little more fun than I think his bosses had in mind. I started in with the Scandinavian handbraking, a technique that invariably enters the equation on such tracks, and we were giggling like school girls in short order.
  • The Mazda6’s rear suspension setup’s lateral arms do not, as many do, err forward and higher than the wheel hub. Instead they attach low, below the wheel center. This results in an extremely sporting attitude over twisty roads as the arms push at the rear wheel down lower and closer to the center line. This was most noticeable on track.

For the moment, no wagons are promised for the US, sadly. That’s a serious bummer for all of us; this Mazda6 wagon is a brilliantly executed design. Pretty damn good on a kart track, too.

2014 Mazda6 Skyactiv-D Wagon originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Feb 2013 14:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink


2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club

Published by Mazda Blogs on November 20th, 2012

Filed under: , ,

In what could have been my final time reviewing a current-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, I’ll have to say it was like saying a bittersweet farewell to an old friend. You see, the third-generation Miata (NC) is my favorite iteration of the fun little roadster, and with the next Miata being co-developed with Alfa Romeo, I fear the car might lose some of the “jinba ittai” that has made it incredible track car for the last 23 years. If this was to be my last extended drive in the MX-5 Miata, I couldn’t have asked for a better send-off with it being a black-on-red tester with a soft top, manual transmission and the all-new Club trim level.

Perhaps as a tip of its proverbial hat to the car’s cult following among club racers, the 2013 model year for the MX-5 Miata sees the new Club model replace the Touring trim level in the middle of the car’s lineup. This new model should also be a welcomed sight for buyers who were late in snagging one of the 450 Miata Special Edition units that were sent to the US this year, and with a starting price of $26,705, it is substantially less than the Special Edition car. Like the Special Edition, though, the Club comes with black wheels and black door mirrors, and other key elements helped give the car an eye-catching look that got the car noticed almost everywhere I took it.

Driving Notes

  • The first thing I notice every time I drive a Miata is how balanced the car feels. A low curb weight (less than 2,500 pounds) and an almost perfectly even weight distribution make the car fun to drive in just about any conditions.
  • More fun, of course, is driving with the top down, and the Miata’s manual soft top has to be one of the simplest tops to operate in the history of convertibles. One central latch holds it in place, and it is light and hassle-free to raise and lower. You can even just reach back while at a stop light and raise the roof in about five seconds with one hand.
  • The six-speed manual transmission not only makes the Miata more engaging to drive, it also gives the car more power. Cars equipped with the automatic transmission are rated at 158 horsepower and those with the manual get 167 ponies under the hood, and while I’ve yet to drive an automatic Miata, at no point does the manual’s power feel insufficient. Even better, it is still decent on gas with fuel economy numbers 21 miles per gallon city and 28 highway; I had no problems hitting either number even with a healthy dose of spirited driving.
  • Aside from maybe a Tesla Roadster, there are few cars on the road that feel as small as the Miata. To some, this might be a good thing, but when the average SUV bumper is at face level and getting into and out of the car feels like it should be a part of the Insanity Workout, the Miata might not be an ideal primary vehicle.
  • The 2013 Miata Club represents a slight price increase ($875) over the 2012 Miata Touring, but what you get is a truly unique look without having to make any modifications yourself. The Gunmetal Black 17-inch wheels do a lot for the car, but the Club also gets black side stripes, black headlights, a front lip spoiler, rear diffuser, “Club” fender badges and chrome trunk brackets; inside, the instrument panel gets a new body-color-matching insert and red stitching to accent the black seats.
  • In today’s tech-savvy world, the Miata’s option list is devoid of many options available on most entry-level cars, but for a car that shouldn’t even have cupholders (especially on the manual-equipped models), the lack of technology inside the Miata makes the car feel even more raw and refreshing.

2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 20 Nov 2012 15:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink


Flyin’ Miata V8 Targa MX-5 Miata

Published by Mazda Blogs on October 25th, 2011

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Point. Shoot. Grin.

Flyin' Miata V8 Targa MX-5 Miata

Wedging myself into the cockpit of Keith Tanner’s 1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata turned Targa Newfoundland podium finisher, I’m struck with the realization that most race cars are the automotive equivalent of a pet electric eel. They look fantastic lounging around, and you may even be struck with the impulse to get close, but the reality is that it’s only a matter of time before it reaches out and lights you up like a cheap string of Christmas lights. This notion is only underscored when Tanner hands me a set of noise-cancelling headphones with an integrated com system.

“Here. You’ll probably want these,” he says. “It can get kind of loud in here.”

With a 400-horsepower General Motors L33 wedged between the fenders of the poised Miata, it’s only a matter of time before the stripped interior resonates with the sound of eight furious cylinders. I ask if there’s anything I should know before I hit the ignition. Tanner says no. I’m beginning to suspect he’s lying to me.

Continue reading Flyin’ Miata V8 Targa MX-5 Miata

Flyin’ Miata V8 Targa MX-5 Miata originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 24 Oct 2011 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink


Tweeter button Facebook button