Auto blogMon, 11 Aug 2014 11:01:00 EST
Tech nerds are spoiled. Every year, there's a new iPhone that arrives following months and months of breathless speculation and rumormongering. We car folk have a more difficult life, because vehicles with the iPhone's cult-like devotion and following, while plentiful, only receive hefty updates after several years. Case in point, the Mazda MX-5.
There's a new one coming, and much like the iPhone 6, it'll arrive in just a few weeks. So, in lockstep with the tech folk, we're anxiously biding our time and waiting with baited breath for the expected debut date of September 3. Also, like Apple fanboys, we're clamoring over any hint or teaser as to what the next-gen Miata will bring, which is why we're showing you the above image.
That is, allegedly, the new MX-5 hiding under the sheet. Auto Motor und Sport has the image, which according to World Car Fans was released by Mazda. Of course, we've reached out to the Zoom-Zoom brand for verification of its authenticity, and will be sure to update as soon as we hear back.
Is the answer always Mazda Miata? We discussed this in passing on the Autoblog Podcast earlier this week, and most assuredly the answer is "no." For example, the little MX-5 would be a terrible people carrier, and it'd be useless off road. You can't really tow anything of substance with it, either. Still, if push came to shove, it's satisfying to know that the diminutive roadster could eke out a career as a chase vehicle for the police.
That fact was proven when Road & Track editor Chris Cantle did something that he himself recognizes as "stupid." Upon returning home, Cantle discovered a "twenty-something" actively burgling his home. The resulting story is easily one of the more entertaining episodes to come out of the 1990 MX-5's service to the team at R&T and, we're guessing, will be one of the highlights of the Million-Mile Miata challenge.
Be sure to head over to Road & Track for a full retelling of the chase from Cantle, as well as a follow-up on the saga.
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:58:00 EST
Competitors in the small-car segment didn't do nearly as well. Four vehicles earned "poor" grades.
Only one small car out of 12 tested earned a good grade in the latest round of crash-test results compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Mini Cooper Countryman received a "good" ranking on the organization's small-front overlap test.
Chances are good that you, loyal Autoblog reader, have long since chosen to follow us on Twitter and 'like' us on Facebook. (If you haven't, feel free to take a second and do so right now.) Anyway, if you're one of our social media posse, you might have already heard that we're smack dab in the middle of Miata Month. We've gotten Mazda to loan us a couple of MX-5 Miatas, allowing us to say a protracted, tear-filled goodbye to the current generation (NC) of the beloved roadster, just before it exits stage right and ushers in the next generation.
You'll see a few more Miata Month items here on Autoblog after we've said our final farewell, but we absolutely wanted to make sure we created some great video evidence of our month, as well. Right down below, then, in its unfiltered-audio splendor, is the Autoblog Unplugged version of the 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT. Your author had a pretty great time wringing out the roadster for the creation of our short vid, and we really hope you dig listening along.
Faulty Takata airbag inflators keep taking their toll on automakers. Mazda is the latest to be affected in the US by announcing a recall covering 18,050 Mazda6 and RX-8 models to replace the front, passenger-side airbags. Specifically, the campaign covers 18,000 Mazda6 units from the 2003 and 2004 model years built between May 29, 2002, and March 4, 2004, and 50 RX-8 vehicles from the 2004 model year made between June 25, 2003, and June 30, 2003.
As with the rest of the vehicles with these faulty inflators, it's possible for the part to rupture when deploying the airbag and potentially spray shrapnel at the occupant. Mazda's defect notice goes into a bit more detail than most about the problem saying: "some propellant wafers have been produced with an inadequate compaction force, or may have been exposed to uncontrolled moisture conditions (those wafers could have absorbed moisture beyond the allowable limits)."
This isn't Mazda's first difficulty with Takata-supplied airbags this year. The company was among the seven automakers that recalled vehicles in hot-weather states over the inflators. It also had to recently fix 42,000 Mazda6 vehicles in China over the issue.
Oh, the heady days of 1993, back when the Clinton Presidency was just getting underway, and it seemed like every hot new rock band was coming out of Seattle. Sports cars in the US had finally shaken off the shackles that slowed them during the '70s and '80s, and you could buy any number of legitimately quick vehicles again. MotorWeek recently went digging into its archives to find this six-model test from 1993 showing off some of the best semi-affordable performance coupes that money could buy at the time, and it's priceless.
Featuring the 1994 model year Toyota Supra in twin-turbo guise and MY 1993 versions of the Porsche 968, Nissan 300ZX TT, Mazda RX-7, Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo and Chevrolet Corvette LT-1, MotorWeek definitely covered all of the bases. One thing that might surprise younger readers is these cars' performance. The video only provides 0-60 acceleration times, but several of these vehicles would still be considered pretty potent today - over 20 years since going on sale. The Supra is especially impressive, hitting 60 miles per hour in just 5 seconds. Even today, that's nothing to sneeze at.
Given their performance potential and still-attractive looks, it's amazing that some of these coupes are old enough to drink now. The progress of interior design and safety equipment in the intervening years is pretty shocking, though. In most of these models, having two airbags is touted as a big deal. Scroll down to watch a Throwback Thursday blast from the past about some of the '90s best sports cars.
Small cars may be big business, but the world's automakers don't seem to be in any particular rush to keep them fresh. The new Smart Fortwo unveiled yesterday replaces a model that's already been around for seven years, and based on a structure dating back to the late '90s. The new Opel Corsa revealed just last week replaces a model that had been around for eight years. And the Mazda2 has been on the market in its current form for seven years now, but not for much longer because Mazda has finally revealed its successor.
Set to be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show this October, the new Mazda2 follows the stylistic lead of the Hazumi concept remarkably close, from the sharply creased front end right down to the wheel design - bringing the supermini hatchback in line with the KODO design language that characterizes its bigger siblings: the Mazda3, Mazda6 and CX-5.
Although details released thus far are rather limited, and power will vary from one market to another, engine options center around a 1.5-liter four in both gasoline and diesel versions, joining the manual and automatic transmissions and the chassis itself under Mazda's Skyactiv technology umbrella. We wouldn't expect the diesel version to make it across the Pacific (or across the border from the plant that will build it alongside a new Toyota hatch in Mexico), but rumors have surfaced of a potential rotary hybrid. The new 2 will also include the company's MZD connectivity suite and i-Activsense safety technology.
Every few months, it seems a rumor crops up about plans from Mazda to revive the rotary engine. Last November, its CEO said the only way another one could happen is if the project was profitable, and then a month later the automaker showed off the Mazda2 RE Range Extender with a 330cc Wankel engine mounted in the rear. Now, Australian auto site Motoring reports that the PHEV may actually make production in the next-gen Mazda2 sometime after it's initial launch.
Martin Benders, managing director of Mazda in Australia, spoke to Motoring about the company's future with hybrids and basically reiterated what the CEO said last year. The Japanese automaker only plans to offer electrified powertrains in places where they can sell in sufficient numbers to be profitable, like Japan.
Mazda has been playing with the rotary range-extender idea for years. In the RE prototype, the engine was exclusively used to charge the lithium-ion batteries when they were running low, and a 100-horsepower electric motor provided all of the propulsion. It gave the little hatch an estimated range of about 250 miles. The company reportedly took inspiration from its Skyactiv engines to make the Wankel have lower friction and a lighter weight.
The scope of the problem with the faulty airbag inflators from Takata continues to broaden and is now reaching China, as well. Mazda is recalling 42,732 Mazda6 units there, produced by its local joint venture partner China FAW Car Company, to replace the front passenger airbags. It comes as part of Mazda's recall of nearly 160,000 vehicles worldwide, including about 34,600 in the US, according to Reuters.
This is the same problem that caused seven automakers in the US to recall an estimated 2.1 million vehicles in late June. The airbag inflators can potentially explode instead of deploying the airbag, which hampers the bag's inflation. In some cases occupants are also hit by the metal shrapnel, which can cause further injuries. In the US, Mazda is repairing the 2003-2007 Mazda6 (pictured above), 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed6, 2004 MPV and 2004-2008 RX-8 originally sold in or currently registered in Florida, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii.
This is hardly the first instance of this issue. Since 2001, there have been 20 recalls tied to the exploding airbags supplied by Takata. The problem is possibly linked to the propellant in the inflators, but there's no conclusive evidence of that yet. Most of the automakers in the US limited the most recent recalls only to a few humid states because moisture potentially exacerbated the problem.
Now in its 25th year and on the market in its current form since 2005, the Mazda MX-5 Miata has been due for replacement for some time now. A mid-life facelift helped things along some in 2008, but the moment that roadster enthusiasts have been anxiously awaiting is almost upon us.
Mazda has now confirmed that the 2016 MX-5 will be officially unveiled on September 3 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca just ahead of the "Miatas at Mazda Raceway" event, where the Japanese automaker will also display "an array of heritage, concept and motorsports MX-5s," just as it did alongside the upcoming new roadster's Skyactiv chassis at the New York Auto Show.
Not to leave the European and Asian markets out of the fun, Mazda will simultaneously unveil the new Miata in Spain and Japan as well. But in the meantime you can view the teaser video and press release below to keep that excitement drummed up.