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Auto blogMon, 03 Dec 2012 10:33:00 EST
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.
Mazda is getting serious about showing off the Skyactiv-D turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine in the Mazda6. The automaker has just announced it will campaign three diesel Mazda6 racers in the Grand-Am GX class of the upcoming 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona in a quest to walk away with the company's 24th class win. Mazda partnered with SpeedSource to develop the race version of the new sedan, with Japanese and American engineers lending a helping hand where needed. Meanwhile, Freedom Autosport and Visit Florida Racing/SpeedSource/Yellow Dragon Racing will helm teams of their own.
Each car will make use of a five-driver team for the 24-hour race on January 26. In the interim, you can check out the full press release below for more information as well as the full driver roster. Mazda says we can expect to see the No. 70 SpeedSource car under the lights at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show later this month, as well.
Japan's larger automakers - companies like Toyota, Honda and Nissan - have tremendous engineering talent at their disposal. That's largely because, selling as many cars as they do, they've got more revenues to tap into. Logic might dictate, then, that smaller automakers like Mazda, which no longer has the deep pockets afforded to it by its former partnership with Ford, might have less of a budget and workforce for engineering. But Mazda has been raking in record profits, and it plans on cashing those revenues in by hiring a substantial new pool of engineers.
According to Automotive News, Mazda is preparing to hire as many as 185 new engineers over the next two years - almost four times as many as the 50 engineers it previously targeted. Many of those engineers will be put to work developing the second-generation, Skyactiv 2 technologies that are on the drawing board while the first round of Skyactiv features are still being rolled out.
The boost in recruitment is enabled by a positive fiscal year that ended last March, marking the first profits Mazda had logged in four years. Sources anticipate that the fiscal year culminating at the end of this month will mark the company's most profitable yet, netting over a billion dollars to eclipse the fiscal year that ended in 2008 when it recorded $872.5 million in profits.