Auto blogFri, 21 Dec 2012 16:31:00 EST
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.
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.
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:
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.
At 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.
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.
Forgive us for having the distinct feeling of déjà vu, but it certainly feels like we've been here before. By that we are referring Car and Driver and the announcement of its annual 10Best vehicles for 2013. To be sure, it's an impressive selection of cars that combine heart-pounding performance and frugal sensibilities, but it also represents something of a broken record on the part of C/D. We're not so sure that's a flaw, though, as the resulting list is tough to argue with.
Vehicles like the Ford Mustang, Porsche Boxster, and BMW 3 Series have maintained their high-horsepower spots on this list for several years now. Even on the more practical and nimble end, the Honda Accord, Honda Fit and Mazda Miata have not budged. These continued spots are even in light of redesigns for some vehicles such as the Accord, Boxster and 3 Series.
In fact, the only newcomer to the 10Best list this year are the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ twins, which knocked out the Cadillac CTS-V. We think it would have been a huge misstep to have excluded the FR-S/BRZ, even in light of the supercharged Caddy's lamentable departure from 10Best.
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 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan took quite the toll on the automotive industry in that nation. Not content to lean on that tragedy as excuse for slagging sales, the Japanese automakers are planning on a major production expansion in North America. The aim is to reclaim the market share lost from the Tsunami-based dip, and overcome a dollar/yen exchange rate that makes exporting to America unprofitable.
Following the Tsunami, Japanese automakers ramped up production in their North American facilities to compensate, but according to Automotive News, Nissan, Honda and others have all reported plans for still-further increased production in the year ahead. As part of this ramp-up, Mazda will open a facility in Salamnca, Mexico before March of 2014. Part of that increase in output is 50,000 units of a Toyota-badged compact car, which Mazda will produce.
Other Mexican production facilities opening include a Honda plant, which will open in Spring 2014 in Celaya, and a Nissan plant, set to open later this year in Aguascalientes. Nissan also said that it will need another plant in North America within the next five years. According to Nissan Boss Carlos Ghosn, the company aims to raise its stake in the US market from 8 percent to 10, and adding production will help achieve that goal. Even Mitsubishi is aiming to boost production at its Normal, Illinois plant. Production of the Outlander Sport is currently at 50,000, which Mitsubishi wants to raise to 70,000.