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Auto blogTue, 13 May 2014 14:15:00 EST
The Chinese auto market is one of the most interesting in the world to look at. Its automakers appear to still be figuring things out and remain open to experimentation. For example, at this moment, you can buy new copies of all three generations of the Mazda6 from showrooms there.
Mazda joint-venture partner FAW recently introduced the latest generation to China as the Mazda6 Atenza, according to Just Auto. Yet buyers still have the option of getting the previous generation as well, which is sold as the Mazda6 Ruiyi. Obviously, that isn't too remarkable - companies in the US have briefly sold two generations of the same nameplate simultaneously for brief points in the past, and the practice is much more common in developing markets. However, Chinese consumers still have the third choice, too - the first-generation model that dates back to the early 2000s, is still on offer, known simply as Mazda6.
While it would be hard to imagine selling three generations of the same models at once in the US, the idea is an interesting one. We enjoyed our long-term test of the latest generation, and the previous models weren't bad cars either, so provided there's a healthy difference in pricing and marketplace confusion is limited by differing names, we can see it working. If nothing else, it's a fascinating illustration of how broad China's developing auto market really is.
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, looking to make the most of its new, lightweight Skyactiv vehicle architecture, will allegedly use a version of the CX-5 crossover's platform to underpin its next-generation Mazda2 hatchback, according to a report from Just-Auto.com. Of course, the Mazda2 is a much smaller vehicle than its larger CUV stablemate, so some serious chopping will no doubt be in order when it comes time to engineer the replacement for the company's smallest hatch.
Currently, the CX-5 and the sleek new Mazda6 share many of the same platform components, and this architecture will already be scaled down to support the next-generation Mazda3 sedan and hatchback, which will debut later this year. Just-Auto.com states that all of Mazda's remaining front-wheel-drive vehicles will eventually switch to reworked versions of this Skyactiv platform, including the replacement for the larger CX-9 crossover.
Also of note, Mazda will reportedly be switching to shorter, four-year lifecycles for its vehicles. This means that the newly launched Mazda6 will be replaced for the 2016 calendar year, with a refresh coming sometime in 2014. That said, vehicles with platforms supplied by other automakers (like the upcoming MX-5 Miata replacement that will share its underpinnings with an Alfa Romeo product) will not necessarily follow this four-year rule.