Posts Tagged ‘year’

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.


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.


Mazda CX-5 named Japan’s Car of The Year, Subaru BR-Z wins "Special Award"

Published by Mazda Blogs on December 3rd, 2012

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The Mazda CX-5 stamped its Kodo design and SkyActiv technology authority all over the Japan Car of the Year awards, taking the top prize ahead of the Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT 86. It is Mazda’s second victory in the last ten years, the 2005 MX-5 claiming the same trophy, and the fourth time the Hiroshima company has won.

The award is decided by 60 local “automotive experts and journalists,” and open to any passenger car released in Japan from November 1, 2011 to October 31, 2012 that has sold more than 500 units. Each judge gets 25 votes, his or her top vote getting 10 points, the rest of the points being spread among the judge’s choice for the next best four cars.

The second-place getters were the Toyobaru twins with 318 votes, the surprise being they didn’t beat or get any closer to the crossover. The Subaru BRZ did claw some mojo back, earning the Special Award given to cars that have made “an exceptional impact.” The BMW 3 Series was third overall and won the Import Car of the Year award with plenty of room between it and the second place Range Rover Evoque.

The full list of winners is below, along with press releases from the organization and the manufacturers. Congratulations to Mazda on the win.

Continue reading Mazda CX-5 named Japan’s Car of The Year, Subaru BR-Z wins “Special Award”

Mazda CX-5 named Japan’s Car of The Year, Subaru BR-Z wins “Special Award” originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 03 Dec 2012 10:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


This is what 4,500 hp worth of V8 Miatas looks like

Published by Mazda Blogs on August 11th, 2012

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2012 Flyin Miata Summer Camp V8 Conversion

A strange thing happened at this year’s Flyin’ Miata Summer Camp. The crew hosts a day of seminars covering everything from new products to a timing belt how-to, and this year, a total of 11 V8 conversions showed up in the same room. There are many ways to pull over 400 horsepower from a Mazda Miata, but few are more entertaining than plopping a honkin’ American V8 behind the headlights.

The shop routinely plays host to Keith Tanner’s delicious Targa Miata as well as the company’s NB development mule, Elvis, and his NC sister, Betty, but with six customer cars with FM V8 conversions on hand plus two homebrew specials hanging about, the total hit an all-time high.

No one’s throwing out any specific numbers, but estimates put the final horsepower figure at around 4,500 ponies. For perspective, you’d need to amass around 27 stock NC models to crest the same number. Cue the mad-scientist laughter.

This year marked the 15th Flyin’ Miata Summer camp, and fans of the brand trekked from as far as Maine and Florida for five days of on-track shenanigans, group drives and seminars by the FM staff. Check it out below as well as a full gallery from the shindig.

Continue reading This is what 4,500 hp worth of V8 Miatas looks like

This is what 4,500 hp worth of V8 Miatas looks like originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 11 Aug 2012 12:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Mazda and Fiat to co-develop a roadster based on next-gen MX-5 Miata

Published by Mazda Blogs on May 23rd, 2012

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2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata

The next-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata will have a sibling, but it won’t be a Mazda, it will be an Alfa Romeo. The Japanese automaker has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Alfa parent Fiat to co-develop a roadster based on the MX-5 platform that is expected to see production in Mazda’s Hiroshima factory, with the Alfa version coming in 2015.

Pegged as “a successor to the MX-5,” the production date will push the next-gen Miata’s arrival back a bit. In 2010 it was predicted we’d see the new Miata this year, with its 2,200-pound weight target, 50/50 weight distribution and potential twin-backbone chassis structure. Obviously that isn’t happening.

Whenever the new model and its Alfa mate do come, each brand will get “differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic and brand-specific light weight roadsters featuring rear-wheel drive,” using in-house engines provided by their own brands.

The link-up is excellent news for Mazda, the small, independent company searching for just these kinds of “technology and product development alliances” to help rescue it from years of losses, and supporting CEO Takashi Yamanouchi’s assertion that it’s “partner or die.” The negotiations also include further cooperation between the two brands in Europe.

Fiat head Sergio Marchionne’s search for partnerships to provide scale is no secret, nor his desire to improve Fiat’s position in Asia, which Mazda might also be able to assist with. And the idea of a properly sporting Alfa would be welcome round the world; with the loss of the Brera GT and Brera Spider in 2010, the Alfa line is down to two hatchbacks and a long-in-the-tooth sedan, none of them particularly sporty. With the 8C Spider beyond most budgets and the 4C still living in the ether, it’s been almost 20 years since the then 33-year-old Alfa Spider represented (or was meant to, at least) the kind of purposeful, two-seater Alfa being announced here.

The final agreement should be finalized later this year, and you can scroll down to read the press release.

Continue reading Mazda and Fiat to co-develop a roadster based on next-gen MX-5 Miata

Mazda and Fiat to co-develop a roadster based on next-gen MX-5 Miata originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 23 May 2012 09:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Ward’s selects the 10 best interiors of 2012

Published by Mazda Blogs on April 17th, 2012

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2012 Hyundai Accent interior

Ward’s AutoWorld is well known for its annual “10 Best Engines” list, but the trade publication has been compiling a second list for interiors for a few years now. Formerly known as the “Interior of the Year” competition, Ward’s rebranded the list last year, naming the coolest cockpits under the “10 Best Interiors” moniker.

This year’s winners are a relatively diverse lot, with hatchbacks, sedans and crossovers all making the list. While Ward’s lists them in alphabetical order rather than crowning a single winner, we’re choosing to present them with the lowest as-tested MSRP first:

The first thing we noticed then is that while fully half the models carrying base sticker prices under $25,000, Ward’s was clearly not testing the base models of any of these vehicles. The Chevy Sonic, for instance, starts nearly $5,000 below the price of the car Ward’s drove. Even so, that half of the cars on the list could be legitimately called “affordable” is impressive.

Ward’s says 40 vehicles qualified for the competition by having “new or significantly improved interiors,” and while 13 of those were luxury vehicles, they only made up half of the winners. Ward’s says it judged the interiors based on design, fit-and-finish, comfort, ergonomics, safety, material selection, overall value, aesthetics, and human-machine interface.

Check out all the award winners in our high-res image gallery above.

Ward’s selects the 10 best interiors of 2012 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 16 Apr 2012 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Autoblog to compete in Targa Newfoundland with Flyin’ Miata

Published by admin on August 24th, 2011

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Flyin Miata 2006 Mazda MX-5

No matter what part of the world you hail from, there’s really nothing quite like the Targa Newfoundland. Held on a beautiful island off the Eastern coast of Canada, the course is over 1,350 miles long and winds through small towns, open spaces and deep forests for some of the most challenging and varied stages of any competition on the continent. As a result, competitors come wielding sheetmetal from every conceivable corner of the globe and era of automotive history. It’s a buffet of horsepower at wide-open throttle, and this year, we’ll be in the hunt ourselves.

The good people at Flyin’ Miata have been so kind as to offer us a much-coveted co-driver seat in their supercharged 2006 MX-5. Nancy, as our valiant stallion is affectionately known due to her NC chassis, started life as an abused orphan of the Mazda press car fleet. After a little massaging by the Flyin’ Miata crew, the car now rocks a 2009 front fascia, the company’s proprietary supercharger kit, springs and sway bars as well as a set of Tokico Shocks. All told, the car produces somewhere around 240 horsepower, which should be enough to help us keep up with the rest of the Grand Touring Class.

Yours Truly will doing his level best to keep from confounding Bill Cardell as he whips Nancy across the Canadian landscape. Those familiar with the Miata scene know Cardell as the founder and owner of Flyin’ Miata, so if anyone knows how to properly cane an MX-5, it’s this guy. I’m honored to have the chance to share the cockpit with him.

This year, Flyin’ Miata is actually campaigning two vehicles. While Cardell, myself and Nancy are set to go the distance in the Grand Touring category, Keith and Janel Tanner are also taking to the Targa. The husband-and-wife team will once again helm the same 1994 MX-5 Miata that they drove in the 2008 Targa Newfoundland, with one big change. This year, the car rocks a General Motors L33 V8 conversion that cranks out 400 horsepower to the rear wheels thanks to a set of LS6 heads and a trick cam. All of that power is funneled through a T56 six-speed transmission and a Getrag differential with a clutch-pack limited slip. Needless to say, the Tanners will be taking on the Open Class to do battle with the quickest metal of the event.

Interestingly enough, Flyin’ Miata wouldn’t have been able to head to the 2011 Targa Newfoundland at all without the help of the company’s fans and supporters. The team tried to seduce large sponsors to help fund the trip to Canada before turning to the Miata nation for help. To date, they’ve raised over $14,500 to help put the cars on the first stage. It’s a testament to just how faithful Miata owners can be.

Given that my navigation experience is limited plotting the quickest path to the Dippin Dots stand at the local amusement park, I’ve got some serious work to do before the race gets started on September 10. Stay tuned for updates on my Targa education.

Autoblog to compete in Targa Newfoundland with Flyin’ Miata originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 14 Jul 2011 19:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


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