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Mazda Mazda6 for Sale
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Auto blogWed, 03 Sep 2014 20:40:00 EST
Let's not understate the significance and difficulty of what's been accomplished here. In this ever-connected, constantly surveilled modern auto industry, Mazda has pulled a coup - it's kept a new vehicle under wraps. Yes, we've seen hacked up and camouflaged mules and maybe a form under a sheet, but Mazda is about to reveal its next-generation MX-5 Miata, and the car - let alone its specifications - hasn't been leaked anywhere yet. Not via clandestine camera phone snapshot, not by patent drawing, not by leaked ad copy, not even by diecast model. Believe us, we've looked.
And this isn't just some humdrum crossover or workaday compact, it's the Miata, the world's most popular roadster, apple of the enthusiast community's eye and seeming center of gravity for the Japanese automaker. For those who are genuinely excited about cars - about motoring - this is an impressive feat. If anything, Mazda's radio silence regarding the fourth-generation ND Miata has only served to heighten our anticipation for a model that probably won't reach showrooms for another year.
So, what's true and what's false among all the rumors? Will the already lightweight Miata really shed hundreds of pounds? What exactly will live under hood and drive those rear wheels?
Like just about every other auto publication we've seen, we loved the way the Mazda3 drove when we reviewed it a few months ago, but those glowing reviews apparently aren't helping its sales. The new compact may be falling victim to a sales war between the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, with the newcomer getting squeezed out by those with more established names and bigger marketing budgets.
According to Automotive News, Mazda3 sales have fallen every month since last August, and its sales are down 27 percent in the first two months of 2014. It certainly isn't helping that the entire compact segment is down five percent this year as well.
The biggest problem for the new model seems to be its price compared to rivals. Mazda is not offering the incentives that are on the hood of competitors. With the previous generation, the company offered more than $2,700 on the hood to move them out, but the current model only carries about $1,233 in markdowns, according to AN.
As Mazda continues the current rollout of its still-new Skyactiv technology, the automaker is already looking at improving its family of engines for even better fuel economy and emissions reductions. Automotive News reports that with stricter fuel economy and emissions regulations planned for 2020 and 2025 in Europe, Mazda will likely release engines with next-generation Skyactiv 2 technology by the end of this decade, and Skyactiv 3 units just five years later.
The latter is expected to focus on improved engine cooling and lessening energy losses, but the big news in AN's report is that the next-gen Skyactiv 2 engines will use Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition, or HCCI. This type of ignition is very similar to how a diesel engine operates (with high compression and using the compression stroke for fuel combustion rather than spark plugs), a method said to provide a cleaner and more efficient fuel burn - to the tune of a 30-percent improvement in fuel economy compared to current Skyactiv engines. Other automakers, including Hyundai, have already announced they are developing HCCI powerplants with similar technology and characteristics, so Mazda likely won't be a lone wolf here.
Equipped with HCCI technology, Mazda figures to be able to compete with larger automakers in terms of fuel economy and emissions without resorting to hybrid powertrains, continuously variable transmissions or automatics relying on more forward gears (eight or more) for optimal efficiency. Some of the challenges of HCCI, according to AN, include the need for better engine cooling, risk of misfire at high and low rpm and uneven engine performance based on fuel properties.