Auto blogTue, 25 Feb 2014 13:29:00 EST
To say that the Mazda3 is a vital product for Mazda would be one heck of an understatement. In fact, the model line accounts for about 30 percent of the manufacturer's sales. Fortunately for Mazda, they're selling well.
These days, the Japanese automaker is building the Mazda3 (known domestically as the Axela) in Japan, China, Thailand and, as of last month, in Mexico. The company's expanded global production capacity has helped Mazda reach four million units of the Mazda3 sold around the world since the first model was introduced over ten and a half years ago.
Over the course of that decade since its introduction in June 2003, Mazda has gone through three generations of Mazda3, the newest model benefiting from the company's Skyactiv technology and even encompassing a hybrid model in the Japanese Domestic Market.
Last week, Mazda officially teased its Geneva-bound Hazumi concept, showing little more than an aggressive headlamp design. But now, thanks to the magic of the Internet, another rendering of the Hazumi has appeared on the web, and, well, it's totes adorbs.
In Mazda's original release from last week, we were told that the name "Hazumi" means "spring up" or "bound" in Japanese, and is "particularly well-suited to a small car that appears to be bursting with energy." And now that we're getting a nearly full glimpse of the thing, we absolutely have to agree. The company's Kodo design language offers aggressive style in a cute little shape, and the usual raft of concept car-spec treatments (no mirrors, huge wheels, etc.) make it look even more comical and delightful.
Indeed, the Hazumi is understood to preview the next Mazda2 subcompact, and if this concept car points the way forward for Mazda's tiniest hatch, consider us totally geeked. Mazda is also set to debut its new 1.5-liter Skyactiv-D diesel engine at the Geneva Motor Show next week, and while the company hasn't confirmed if that powerplant will make its way into the next Mazda2, it sure makes sense, at least overseas. Stay tuned.
Looks like Mazda's big Geneva Motor Show debut is actually something quite small. Teased here, the Hazumi concept "points the way to the future" for the brand's subcompact offering, the Mazda2. Details are slim as of this writing, but from what we can see in the image above, the Hazumi will use the same Kodo design language found on the Mazda3, Mazda6 and CX-5. We're big fans of this styling direction, so we fully expect the concept to be quite an attractive little number.
Hazumi means "bound" or "spring up" in Japanese, with Mazda saying this nomenclature is "particularly well-suited to a small car that appears to be bursting with energy." In other words, say goodbye to the friendly faced Mazda2 we've enjoyed since it launched in the United States in 2010. Instead, prepare for something decidedly more assertive, hopefully improving upon the already-great driving dynamics of the current subcompact. If we're honest, we can't wait.
Mazda will also use the Geneva show to debut its new small-displacement, 1.5-liter Skyactiv-D diesel engine. The automaker hasn't confirmed that this new fuel-efficient powerplant will be part of the Hazumi concept package, but considering the two are debuting alongside each other, it would seem to make sense. As for whether or not this engine could come stateside when the next Mazda2 launches, we're not holding our breath for that, especially considering the company's current woes with US-spec diesel engines.
Mazda has used its Kodo design language to make some of the most attractive, affordable cars in the world right now, with the Mazda3, Mazda6 and CX-5 (pictured above), but it still lacks a crossover in the smaller class, which are becoming popular on the world market. It seems like a natural fit then, that the Japanese company would shrink its CUV design even smaller for a CX-3 to fill the gap. However, a rumor suggests that the compact might not make it to these shores.
The Mazda2-based crossover is due later this summer in Japan and is launching in Europe and emerging markets later, according to Automotive News citing a report in Japan's Nikkei newspaper. The little CUV would cost between 1.5 million yen and 2.0 million yen ($14,700-$19,500) in Japan and be available with diesel and petrol engine options. However, the report made no mention of selling it in North America. There is a glimmer of a chance for the CX-3 here. Mazda is upgrading its Mexican factory to 230,000 annual unit capacity by 2016, which gives it the room to add the new vehicle.
While the midsize CUVs are hugely popular in the US, compacts like the Buick Encore are still a small portion of things. If Mazda could time the CX-3's launch right here, it could take advantage of the lack of competition.
The original Mazda MX-5 Miata was distinguished by an oval grille - a design trait that gradually evolved into the smiling cat face on the latest model. But Mazda, according to the latest intel, is planning on returning to that oval grille with the new model in the works.
The revised grille will cap a slightly longer form than models past, while still keeping weight down to a minimum. The stretched wheelbase was reportedly adopted in order to meet the requirements of Alfa Romeo, which is jointly developing the new platform together with Mazda for use on a new roadster of its own.
The new Miata is expected to adopt the 1.5-liter Skyactiv four found in the Mazda3, albeit returned to rev higher and deliver more power and torque, mated to either a six-speed manual or automatic. The Alfa version, meanwhile, is expected to use a 1.4-liter turbo four with a dual-clutch transmission. Sources anticipate the new MX-5 to debut first, possibly at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show a little less than a year from now.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating 62,000, 2010-2011 Mazda CX-9 models over brake problems. The government safety watchdog says it has received seven complaints of an observed loss of power braking power to stop the crossover, according to the The Detroit News.
The NHTSA complaints say that the problem causes a hard pedal, increased braking effort and reduced braking effectiveness. Some complaints allege that they hear a hissing noise during braking similar to the sound of air leaving the tires. No injuries or crashes have been reported.
"As always, we are fully cooperating with NHTSA on their investigation. We cannot comment further at this time," said Mazda spokesperson Tamara Mlynarczyk to The Detroit News.
Consumer Reports has just rendered its verdict on two of the more important cars to launch this year - the Mazda3 and the Jeep Cherokee. Considering the value a "Recommended" rating carries with the public and the viciously competitive markets these two cars compete in, Consumer Reports' view could have some impact on their initial success.
For Mazda, that's a good thing. CR spoke quite highly of the Zoom-Zoom brand's compact sedan and hatch, testing both models, and citing the excellent fuel economy and snickety-snack manual shifter as high points. Downsides to the 3 included a ride that is agile but "nervous," a bit too much noise and a cramped back seat. Still, the 3 was good enough to earn its place in the ranks of the "Recommended."
The Jeep didn't fare quite so well, with CR calling the polarizing CUV "half-baked." Although both engines were tested, the magazine called the 2.4-liter four-pot underpowered and its nine-speed automatic unrefined and unresponsive. That's particularly damning, considering the 9AT's role in future Chrysler products, including the extremely important 200. Overall, the Cherokee missed out on the coveted "Recommended" rating.
Ask a car enthusiast what the best driver's car on the road is, and the Mazda MX-5 Miata is very likely to come up rather quickly. Unjustly saddled with a reputation as a "chick's car," the Miata has been, over its three generations, one of the finest driving instruments ever built - it's light, agile and rear-wheel drive with direct, snappy steering, an engine that revels in being revved and a precise, smooth-shifting transmission. The fact that it's ridiculously affordable and reliable is simply a bonus.
It should come as no surprise then, that a car with these traits has endured for 25 years, a milestone reached only by some of the most famous nameplates in the auto industry - Corvette, Mustang, F-150, SL, M3 and so on. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Jay Leno spent some time with the little roadster that could, while also chatting with two of the Mazda employees that were central to the MX-5's arrival on the world's automotive scene, Bob Hall and Tom Matano.
Take a look below for the latest video from Jay Leno's Garage on the excellent Mazda MX-5 Miata.
For its birthday it hasn't been profiled on 60 Minutes or been to Jay Leno's Garage, doesn't go on a retrospective tour of vintage racetracks or get a special Spyder Zagato edition. That doesn't mean we think any less of the Mazda MX-5 Miata, the roadster with a simplicity that was as enjoyable as it was barely believable when it arrived in 1989. A quarter of a century and three generations later, the Miata remains the go-to roadster when you want easy, balanced and economical thrills.
It grew from a 116-horsepower speedster with a five-speed manual transmission and a curb weight of 2,116 pounds, to a 167-hp go-kart with a five-speed manual coming in at 2,480 pounds (in Sport guise). Along the way it's picked up hundreds of awards, including 14 nods on Car and Driver's "10Best" list, its most recent eight-year streak coming to an end last year, the Guinness Book of World Records title as "Best-Selling Two-Seater Sports Car" and innumerable trophies as weekend racer extraordinaire.
We'll see the fourth generation at next year's Chicago Auto Show, and we're certain to hear more about its 25-year milestone this year. Until that happens, enjoy the images above and the gallery and press release below.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-WV, held an all-day summit on Thursday to discuss the dangers of using modern technology while driving, during which an ad that Mazda aired during the Super Bowl was used as an example of the worrisome future towards which we're headed. While seemingly innocuous at first glance, the ad, which can be seen below, shows a brief glimpse of a driver using the Mazda Connect infotainment system in a Mazda3 to check/update his Facebook page while driving down the road.
Officials from major communications companies like Samsung, Google and Apple attended the summit, as well as representatives from automakers including General Motors and Toyota. A representative from Mazda was not present despite the company's own currently available technology being used as the poster child for the issues being discussed.
According to Automotive News, Senator Rockefeller warned the automaker and communication execs on hand that he will propose legislation to regulate the use of technology while driving if they don't work together to implement their own standards more quickly. Michael Robinson, GM's vice president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs, argued that his company has had distracted driving guidelines in place for 15 years since the advent of its OnStar system, noting that the technology in question has also helped the automaker save lives through automatic crash detection and calls to 911.