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Auto blogMon, 17 Nov 2014 15:00:00 EST
The Mazda CX-3 is just days away from its unveiling at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, but elsewhere in the world, the Japanese brand still has the compact crossover disguised for testing. These spy shots aren't too camouflaged though, and when combined with the previous teaser image, they give a pretty clear idea what the new model will look like.
The grille here is well covered, but the photo from the front reveals the similarities to the design sketch. The rear shows a similar horizontally oriented design as the Mazda2, which the CUV is based on. However, the dipping sides around the B-pillar from the teaser don't appear to be on this tester. Even with all the swirls, the vehicle looks fairly attractive.
Mazda is doing a fantastic job of keeping mechanical details about the CX-3 a secret. It's not yet known whether the model is front-wheel-drive only or if all-wheel drive is also an option. The crossover also likely shares the Mazda2's engine, which isn't revealed for North America, yet. The diminutive CUV will compete with a huge crop of new classmates, including the Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade, Chevrolet Trax and Honda HR-V. Check out the gallery for the latest glimpses of this Japanese CUV just days ahead of its full debut.
We have some very sad news to report, rotor-heads fans: Don't expect a new rotary-powered vehicle anytime soon. This comes straight from Masamichi Kogai, the CEO of Mazda, which is the only company to ever market a commercially successful rotary-powered automobile in the world. The issue, as it has pretty much always been, is environmental.
While the Wankel rotary engine does indeed make a lot of power in a small, lightweight package, it does so while burning lots of fuel and emitting lots of noxious gases into the atmosphere, at least when running on gasoline. And that means the rotary engine will likely only ever be able to power niche vehicles. And that, in turn, means that it is very difficult to turn a profit on vehicles with rotary engines, particularly for a small automaker like Mazda.
"It has to be a viable commercial proposition. If we are going to adopt it, it has to be a product that can generate at least sales of 100,000 units a year. We have to be able to achieve a profit," said Kogai in an interview with Automotive News. Mazda sold 56,203 RX-7 models in the United States (the automaker's biggest market) in 1986. Sales of the RX-8 peaked in 2004, its first full year on the market, with just 23,690 units.
There has never been a four-door diesel sedan in the Grand-Am series, until now: The blunt, bewinged grille of the Mazda6 GX has blown right through that wall. It's said that racing improves the breed, but usually the breed has gone on sale when the racing begins. One of the unusual aspects of the Mazda6 GX, on the other hand, is that while the diesel won't go on sale to the public until later this year, it will already have tasted racing blood by the end of the day. That kind of reversal is more likely found with super coupes like the Lexus LFA and Honda NSX.
Mazda has taken class wins at Daytona's 24-hour race a whopping 23 times since 1975, most recently in 2010 with the RX-8 in the GT class. This year the Hiroshima company decided to show off its SkyActiv technology, then turned things up to eleven by opting for its SkyActiv-D instead of the more conventional SkyActiv-G gas engine to run in the new GX class. It will be joined by competitors like the Lotus Evora and Porsche Cayman in the class, nevertheless, at 2.4 liters, it's the smallest engine on the grid.
Time has not been a friend, either - Mazda said that the first five SkyActiv-D engines off the production line went to Speed Source in Coral Springs, Florida, the company that preps Mazda's race vehicles. Still, race driver Jonathan Baumarito on the #70 car said that although the engine's been on the dyno since February of last year, it's only been in the car for about a month and there have been only a couple of test days.