The Truth About Cars » Mazda http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 27 Aug 2015 22:00:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Mazda http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/mazda/ 2016 Mazda CX-3 Review – Nomenclature, Be Damned http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2016-mazda-cx-3-review-nomenclature-be-damned/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2016-mazda-cx-3-review-nomenclature-be-damned/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 19:28:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1141002 2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD (U.S.)/GT AWD (Canada) 2.0-liter SKYACTIV DOHC I-4, direct injection, dual S-VT (146 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 146 lbs-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm) 6-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic w/ Sport mode and paddle shifters 27 city/32 highway/29 combined (EPA Rating, MPG) 30 mpg on the camping-gear-laden test cycle, 80 percent highway […]

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2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (1 of 25)

2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD (U.S.)/GT AWD (Canada)

2.0-liter SKYACTIV DOHC I-4, direct injection, dual S-VT (146 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 146 lbs-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm)

6-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic w/ Sport mode and paddle shifters

27 city/32 highway/29 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

30 mpg on the camping-gear-laden test cycle, 80 percent highway (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: i-ACTIVSENSE Safety Package (U.S.)/Technology Package (Canada), i-ACTIV all-wheel drive (U.S., AWD is standard on GT trim in Canada)

Base Price:
$20,840* (U.S.)/$22,680* (Canada)
As Tested Price:
$29,040* (U.S.)/$32,490* (Canada)

* All prices include $880 destination fee (U.S.) or $1,995 destination fee, PDI and A/C tax (Canada).

For as long as I can remember, my parents always had two vehicles while I was growing up. The first one I can vividly remember was the precursor to GM’s dreaded Cavalier and Cobalt, a 1987 Chevrolet Chevette, with an interior as roomy as any compact you can buy today. The second conveyance in our driveway was a 1992 Suzuki Sidekick, Jay Green in color, and rugged as my father needed for his job traversing Cape Breton Island’s vast spaghetti network of logging roads.

In the early 1990s, the Chevette ended with a bang. As I laid on a bed at my grandmother’s apartment, attempting as much as a young child would to get to sleep (translation: not trying at all), I was startled by tire squealing, a loud bang, silence, then more tire squealing. The Chevette had been dispatched by a freshly licensed 16-year-old driving a Hyundai Pony and fueled by Vitamin O. Write-off total: approximately $500 — for both cars.

The Chevette, now off to the scrapyard, was replaced by a Pontiac Firefly five-door, known for its economical three-cylinder engine outputting double-digit horsepower whilst solidly achieving double-digit miles per gallon halfway to the centripulcate. As a daily runabout, it was solid, economical, and — with its wagon-esque virtues — incredibly versatile.

Back then, my parents were about the same age I am now. They were the last of the Baby Boomers and in the 1990s faced what many Millennials face today. My parents were done with school and working on budding careers and a growing family inside their newly acquired home. There are some key differences between them and me however: I have one extra dog (for a total of two), lack children and I don’t own a home.

It’s in this context that my girlfriend and I headed out on one of my family’s favorite pastimes from when I was a child — a weekend camping trip — in the millennial-focused 2016 Mazda CX-3.

Before we get to the driving, let’s talk about what actually is a CX-3 because the nomenclature is, I think, incredibly confusing to consumers. Also, I think it’s one of the reasons why Mazda is having a hard time making inroads in the U.S. market despite fostering some of the best products in the industry.

The CX-3 is a Mazda2 in drag and not a jacked up Mazda3. A jacked up Mazda3 is called a CX-5, which is kind of related to the Mazda5 so few people bought in the U.S. that Mazda killed it off. The Mazda6 is built on its own G platform derivative, dubbed GJ, and is fairly unrelated to everything else. The CX-9 is a Ford.

With that out of the way …

2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (2 of 25)

Exterior
Shapely lines and a flowing beltline make the CX-3 one of the most stylish options in the sub-compact car segment. I say this because whenever we stopped along our journey to and from the campsite, there was always at least one person — if not multiple — checking out the car. And I mean really staring at it. The CX-3 turns heads without voyeurs wearing a horrified but quizzical “what the hell is that thing?” facial expression usually reserved for the Aztek and Nissan Juke.

2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (19 of 25)

Up front, the CX-3 wears the same updated design language as the refreshed Mazda6 and CX-5, which is a slightly angrier yet more refined version of Mazda’s KODO design DNA. The large grille has presence, even if it’s slightly ruined by its license plate soul patch. The chrome grille surrounding meets elegantly with the squinting headlights much like its brethren, and thank you Mazda for making use of LED technology without turning your headlamps into Audi knock-offs.

At its side, the CX-3 welcomes you with the aforementioned high, flowing beltline and lots of dark plastic cladding to support its rough-and-tumble marketing message. At this trim, there’s even a nice chrome runner to give the CX-3 a more upmarket appearance. All in all, the plastic and chrome say, “Yes, I can do some light off-roading … ” while its pregnant-mouse grown clearance qualify the statement with, ” … but I’d rather not today.” Wheels on this Grand Touring model measure in at 18 inches and fill the wheel wells gracefully. Base model CX-3s come fitted with 16-inch shoes that are much more restrained in their design but are a bit more sophisticated and less trendy.

Much like the Mazda3, there is more metal than glass at the rear of the CX-3. Thankfully, the car comes with a standard backup camera to compensate for the lack of rearward visibility.

As a package, the CX-3 is the sharpest of numbers in an increasingly crowded, increasingly competitive segment.

2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (7 of 25)

Interior
2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (4 of 25)At first, the CX-3’s interior looks like standard Mazda fare, which is good. However, you will notice one omission when you try to use the stereo … that doesn’t exist; instead of a head unit, you are presented a CD slot on the dash (why did they even bother?) along with knobs in the center console for audio operation through Mazda’s infotainment system (more on that later). The only physical tracking buttons are on the steering wheel. There are no controls on the dash at all save the CD slot’s eject button. The arrangement is definitely something you’ll need to get used to; I found myself reaching toward the dash all week long to either change a track to adjust the volume, only to realize I’m an idiot again and again before performing the task at hand through the steering wheel controls or center console knobs.

Other gripes: there is no center console cubby or armrest — console- or seat-mounted — in the CX-3. On long drives, that’s irritating when wanting to steer from the bottom of the wheel, but space is a premium in a millennial mobile.

On the other end of the spectrum, the seats are some of the nicest I’ve seen, touched and sat in in any car less than $30,000. They are beautiful to look at, hug well, and despite there firmness are still comfortable for weekend-long journeying.

2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (11 of 25)

Infotainment
Just like the Mazda3, the iPad-on-dash display is present in the CX-3. Love it or hate it, it’s there — and it’s standard equipment. The 7-inch Mazda Connect display is clear and crisp to the eye and still manages to arrange information and functions in a way that’s logically sound when driving. However, the way the HMI Commander Switch interacts with the screen sometimes feels backwards. You navigate options usually by turning the knob, and when you do the highlighted option is sometimes the opposite of what you meant to pick. Maybe this is my issue.

2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (12 of 25)While you may decry my lack of audio-specific impressions on new cars, the fact is I am fairly tone deaf, so my impressions won’t matter. The stereo sounded clear to me. Your musical mileage may vary.

The navigation, on the other hand, is something I feel fully qualified to, well, qualify. It’s dead simple to use and the visual presentation is excellent. Digging into the menus can be slightly confusing, but once you do it once or twice you’re good to go.

Yet, I still don’t understand Mazda’s aversion to letting someone use the touchscreen in motion. Yes, I understand the safety argument, but what about passengers? Why should they be locked out of using the touchscreen functionality? Also, if you are in motion 99 percent of the time you’re in the car, why even bother with having a touchscreen at all? Either unlock the screen and let me use it or get rid of it altogether. Please.

2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (3 of 25)

Powertrain
Here’s another item that further confuses consumers into thinking the CX-3 is based on the Mazda3. Underhood is the same exact SKYACTIV-G 2-liter engine as its sedan and hatchback stablemates. Yet, unlike the Mazda3, the CX-3 is not available with the optional 2.5-liter SKYACTIV mill.

The 146 horsepower and 146 pounds-feet of torque doesn’t make the CX-3 slow by any stretch, and down low the 2-liter is great for the stoplight drag race. On the highway, the SKYACTIV four does show its one flaw, though, and that’s its lack of passing power. When you are traveling on two-lane secondary roads and need to pass an RV piloted by 78-year-old tourists from Connecticut, you really need to pick your moment. Compounding the pain: The issue could be remedied with a manual gearbox, which isn’t an option in North America. Instead, we are saddled with a six-speed automatic as the only transmission offered, unlike other parts of the world.

Now, there’s nothing especially wrong with that six-speed auto. Actually, for an automatic, it’s quite good. Shifts are smooth, as is getting away from a stop. Shifting with the paddles is (gasp!) fun! Sport mode, which holds back shifts just a tad bit longer, won’t get you going any quicker at full trot. However, it isn’t as aggressive as some other sport transmission tuning I’ve experienced in the past, and it actually makes the experience more than bearable.

On our mostly highway-limited trip, the Mazda CX-3 clocked in just above its combined EPA rating of 29 mpg.

Drive
Let’s quickly get a few things out of the way so we can talk about what’s truly important about the CX-3.

  • The ride is good, though has typical Mazda firmness built in for that “sporty” feeling.
  • The seating position is great, a good mix of slightly raised without feeling you’re driving a truck or more conventional SUV.
  • Overall, it’s a great car.

Yet, as a non-car loving consumer, you might think the CX-3 is a jacked up Mazda3, and I am sure Mazda is banking on it.

“Why would I spend $18,945 on a Mazda3 when I can spend $1,000 more and get a crossover based on the same car?” those millennials might ponder to themselves.

Meanwhile, buyers are unknowingly spending $4,000-5,000 over that mythical Mazda2 that doesn’t exist in the U.S. market, taking their new CX-3 home assuming it has the same interior space as the Mazda3, then wondering why Rover keeps hitting his cone-shaped golden retriever head repeatedly on the dome light. It’s at this point the Mazda CX-3 buyer realizes they’ve been had and it’s too damn late.

It’s a good thing we decided to leave the dogs at home.

Let me be crystal clear here: The CX-3 costs more than the Mazda3, and for that extra $1,000 you get 1) less utility, 2) less choice (no manual), and 3) optional all-wheel drive that isn’t meant for off-roading.

My parents, those millennials of yesteryear, had it right. Two vehicles served as solutions to two different problems. The Firefly was a stellar little runabout. The Sidekick was great for my dad’s work and also provided a spacious enough interior to go camping with three meatbags and an additional furry meatbag. The CX-3 tries to solve both while being completely successful at neither.

Fortunately it isn’t a matter of the car itself being bad and Mazda can fix it all by just calling it what it is. Rename the CX-3 the CX-2 or Mazda2 CrossVenza or whatever. But CX-3? Truth in advertising — or in nomenclature — this Mazda is not.

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Mazda Ends Mazda5 Because There Are More Crossovers to Make http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/mazda-ends-mazda5-crossovers-make/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/mazda-ends-mazda5-crossovers-make/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 15:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1135850 The miniature Mazda minivan — aka the Mazda5 — won’t be brought to the United States after this year, according to the automaker (via Autoblog). The small, boxy family hauler dwindled out in the U.S. (but was never less functional) because we’ll buy anything that looks like a crossover. In unrelated news: Mazda will be […]

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2014 Mazda 5

The miniature Mazda minivan — aka the Mazda5 — won’t be brought to the United States after this year, according to the automaker (via Autoblog). The small, boxy family hauler dwindled out in the U.S. (but was never less functional) because we’ll buy anything that looks like a crossover.

In unrelated news: Mazda will be showing off its new crossover concept in Frankfurt this year, dubbed the Koeru, according to Carscoops.

Thank goodness, the world could use another crossover.

Sales of the Mazda5 peaked in the U.S. market in 2008, and it never became the sales force that the Mazda Premacy had been in other countries. In the first six months of this year, Mazda had only sold about 6,800 Mazda5 models. To date, the Mazda5/Premacy has been Mazda’s best-selling minivan worldwide.

But, there are crossovers to make and sell in the hundreds of thousands.

Mazda-Koeru-concept

In Frankfurt, the company will show off its crossover concept, the Koeru, which means “exceed,” although its unclear from the company’s photos how big it may be or what could be underneath its hood. Autocar speculated that the crossover would be roughly the size of a Cx-5 and would be powered by a 2.2-liter diesel engine.

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Mazda Replaces First Crashed MX-5 Miata for Unlucky Buyer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/mazda-replaces-first-crashed-miata-unlucky-buyer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/mazda-replaces-first-crashed-miata-unlucky-buyer/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 22:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124281 Feel bad for the guy whose brand-new car gets smashed less than a mile away from the dealership? We do. Apparently, so does Mazda. Jalopnik has a great story about a new 2016 Mazda Miata owner whose car met an all-too-soon end less than a mile away from the dealership. The ends were smashed, the driver and passenger were bruised […]

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miata-10

Feel bad for the guy whose brand-new car gets smashed less than a mile away from the dealership? We do. Apparently, so does Mazda.

Jalopnik has a great story about a new 2016 Mazda Miata owner whose car met an all-too-soon end less than a mile away from the dealership. The ends were smashed, the driver and passenger were bruised (but luckily not seriously) and one of the first new Miatas fell victim to an F-150.

You’ll never guess what Mazda did next.

(They replaced the car, I hate it when people do that.)

According to the owner, who posted his tale on a forum, Mazda North America sent a new car on Monday to the unlucky owner. The man says he’ll receive his new car August 15.

According to the owner, his new car was so new (apparently minutes) that legal documentation hadn’t yet been submitted making the process of separating from his car relatively quick. Even still, it’s no easy feat for the dealer, insurance, at-fault driver and Mazda to replace a car.

Jason over at Jalopnik accurately pointed out that as the first Miata crashed in the wild, there’s a lot of useful information Mazda North America can glean from it.

But good on Mazda and the dealer for helping an enthusiast who is obviously excited about his new purchase enough to wait on a list and pick up his car the day it’s made available. In no way are they compelled to do that.

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Mazda Says 2016 CX-3 Will Start Under $20,000 (Kinda) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/mazda-says-2016-cx-3-will-start-under-20000-kinda/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/mazda-says-2016-cx-3-will-start-under-20000-kinda/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 20:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118137 The new mini crossover from Mazda will start at $19,960 (not including $880 destination) when it goes on sale after next month, the automaker reported Thursday. That puts the CX-3 in leagues with the Chevrolet Trax, Nissan Juke, Honda HR-V and Jeep Renegade as sub-$20,000 crossovers in an increasingly crowded and competitive segment. Like the […]

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2016-Mazda-CX-3-11

The new mini crossover from Mazda will start at $19,960 (not including $880 destination) when it goes on sale after next month, the automaker reported Thursday.

That puts the CX-3 in leagues with the Chevrolet Trax, Nissan Juke, Honda HR-V and Jeep Renegade as sub-$20,000 crossovers in an increasingly crowded and competitive segment.

Like the rest of its competition, it’s not hard to hike the CX-3’s final price up in a hurry.

The base price gets Mazda’s 2.0-liter inline four and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Standard on all models will be a rear-view camera, 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth push button starter and power windows and doors. All-wheel drive can be added for $1,250.

The middle-of-the-range CX-3 Touring (with heated seats, leather wrapped wheel, blind-spot monitoring, et al.) runs $22,840. The top-of-the-line CX-3 Grand Touring (navigation, moon roof, leather, Bose sound, etc.) comes in at $25,870. And presumably, the most you could pay for a CX-3 coming from the factory would be a Grand Touring CX-3 with all-wheel drive and Mazda’s optional safety package would be $29,040.

If you need any further proof the segment is ultra competitive and willing to cut to the very bone for the best price on a headline, consider that you can still buy a Jeep Renegade without air conditioning and 16-inch steel wheels for $18,880.

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Subaru of America COO: BRZ Needs ‘More Performance’ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/subaru-america-coo-brz-needs-performance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/subaru-america-coo-brz-needs-performance/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 22:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1115433 It seems enthusiasts aren’t the only folks looking for a little more performance from the rear-wheel drive Subaru BRZ. Subaru of America COO Tom Doll would also like a little more performance — in terms of sales — from the sports car co-developed with Toyota. Thankfully, he sees the best way to increase interest in […]

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Subaru BRZ STI Performance Concept

It seems enthusiasts aren’t the only folks looking for a little more performance from the rear-wheel drive Subaru BRZ. Subaru of America COO Tom Doll would also like a little more performance — in terms of sales — from the sports car co-developed with Toyota.

Thankfully, he sees the best way to increase interest in the BRZ is to give us what we want.

Maybe.

Speaking on Autoline Detroit (via AutoGuide), Doll said: “We may have to do some things to (the BRZ) to enhance the driving performance a little more; take it up a little bit. Because I think that’s one of the learnings we’ve seen out of that vehicle, if it had a little bit more performance to it, it could really take up the sales level even more.”

Earlier this year, officials at Subaru confirmed a STI-branded BRZ would go on sale in the United States, but didn’t reveal specs or additions beyond the current car.

In addition to admitting the BRZ needs more performance — whether that means bumping up the power or giving the car some other tweaks — Doll also mentioned a second generation of the BRZ is still up in the air and wholly dependent on the intentions of executives in Japan.

A second-generation BRZ may also depend on Toyota. It’s been rumored the larger Japanese manufacturer is envious of the new Mazda MX-5 Miata — so much so that they’d be willing to use the architecture for the next Toyota GT86 and Scion FR-S. If that’s the case, don’t expect Subaru to follow suit.

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Mazda App Will Start Your Car, Lock Your Doors, Improve Life http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/mazda-app-will-start-car-lock-doors-improve-life/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/mazda-app-will-start-car-lock-doors-improve-life/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 16:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1112049 Mazda announced today a dealer-installed option that’ll let owners start their car, lock their doors and annoy everyone in the neighborhood via panic alarm. The app, which is free for the first year and $65 annually after, will be called Mazda Mobile Start. The suggested retail price is $500 for the option, but allegedly official kits […]

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Mazda Mobile Start

Mazda announced today a dealer-installed option that’ll let owners start their car, lock their doors and annoy everyone in the neighborhood via panic alarm.

The app, which is free for the first year and $65 annually after, will be called Mazda Mobile Start. The suggested retail price is $500 for the option, but allegedly official kits are selling on Ebay for $419.50.

The remote start will run for 30 minutes to warm up or cool down your car, according to Mazda. The system runs via GPS, but it’s unclear if navigation is a required option on the car. We reached out to Mazda to ask if the system could remotely stop an engine, but haven’t yet received a response.

In addition to remote start, panic and locking, Mazda is also offering a GPS locating system to help frequent flyers find cars in massive, crowded airport parking lots.

The app is available for most major smartphones, which basically means any phone not made by Blackberry.

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Yamamoto: This MX-5 Is All You’re Getting, Take It or Leave It http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/yamamoto-this-mx-5-is-all-youre-getting-take-it-or-leave-it/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/yamamoto-this-mx-5-is-all-youre-getting-take-it-or-leave-it/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1104809 First it was the Toyobaru triplets. Now it’s the MX-5. Nobuhiro Yamamoto, program manager for the Mazda MX-5 Miata, has crushed the dreams of those looking for more factory horsepower from the fourth-generation roadster. In short, if you want to “get hung up on numbers,” look elsewhere. Speaking with the folks at TopGear.com, Yamamoto has […]

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2016 Mazda MX-5

First it was the Toyobaru triplets. Now it’s the MX-5.

Nobuhiro Yamamoto, program manager for the Mazda MX-5 Miata, has crushed the dreams of those looking for more factory horsepower from the fourth-generation roadster. In short, if you want to “get hung up on numbers,” look elsewhere.

Speaking with the folks at TopGear.com, Yamamoto has plainly stated there won’t be a high-output special in the same vein as the NB Mazdaspeed MX-5.

From TopGear.com:

“It’s important not to get hung up on numbers,” Yamamoto-san told us. “Not on power, or torque. No, what is more important is the feeling. The driving experience and feeling is more important than power.

“In my mind it just has to be fun to drive,” he added.

To put it plainly, there will be no additional powerplants, no superchargers and no turbochargers. The most horsepower you’ll be able to buy on the showroom floor will be 155 from the 2.0L four-cylinder engine, take it or leave it.

While a vocal minority will cry foul at the thought of the MX-5 having less power than the outgoing model, we should commend Yamamoto and Mazda on this line-in-the-sand decision, especially when you consider the reasons why.

“It’s got to be affordable. Faster MX-5s means more money,” he added.

But, with the prevalence of turbocharged engines in today’s market, adding one to the MX-5 likely wouldn’t cost much more. According to Yamamoto, though, a turbo would ruin the Miata.

“I never considered using a turbo,” he said, “because naturally aspirated engines are just nice, especially for this kind of car.

“What’s very important to me is the feeling, and that you are happy driving it. I don’t want any more power or torque for the MX-5, but the sensation is important.”

[Photo credit: AutoGuide/Adam Wood]

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Don’t Expect Subaru To Follow Toyota To Mazda For BRZ RWD Platform http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/dont-expect-subaru-to-follow-toyota-to-mazda-for-brz-rwd-platform/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/dont-expect-subaru-to-follow-toyota-to-mazda-for-brz-rwd-platform/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 18:32:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1101193 According to Car & Driver, the folks in Toyota City are smitten with the new Mazda MX-5 Miata. So much so they’re considering using the platform for the next Toyota GT86, sold as the Scion FR-S in North America. The rumor states what goes for Toyota goes for Subaru’s sports car – the BRZ – as […]

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2016 Mazda MX-5

According to Car & Driver, the folks in Toyota City are smitten with the new Mazda MX-5 Miata. So much so they’re considering using the platform for the next Toyota GT86, sold as the Scion FR-S in North America.

The rumor states what goes for Toyota goes for Subaru’s sports car – the BRZ – as well. I’m not so sure about that.

“If Toyota were to employ the MX-5’s chassis, it would be on the next-generation FT86,” Car & Driver was told by a source.

The source says nothing specifically about the BRZ, though the magazine infers the Miata platform will also be used on the next sporty Subaru. However, Subaru may be smart to forego a second generation BRZ altogether.

Currently, the Toyobaru triplets are produced by Subaru in Ōta, Japan. The company is currently capacity constrained. Subaru will stop producing Camrys for Toyota at their Indiana facility in 2016 in order to claw back some of its own capacity to build the Legacy and Outback, the most popular model at Subaru. This shift to the Mazda platform could be a way for Subaru to get out of the RWD platform business and focus more on core models or variations thereof.

Mazda is building the MX-5 at their own facility in Japan and will build the forthcoming Fiat 124 Spider upon its debut. Considering Mazda and Toyota have been getting cozier as of late with a new facility in Mexico building the new Mazda2 along with the Scion iA/Toyota Yaris Sedan, Toyota could also move RWD sports car production to Mazda’s facility in Japan alongside the new Miata.

This would free up capacity for Subaru at their Ōta plant to build other models currently in demand.

So, if Toyota does see the MX-5 Miata platform as a solution for the next generation GT86 and Scion FR-S, don’t expect Subaru to follow suit.

[Photo credit: AutoGuide/Adam Wood]

 

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SPIED: Fiat 124 Spider Sports Long Hood for Small Motor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/spied-fiat-124-spider-sports-long-hood-for-small-motor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/spied-fiat-124-spider-sports-long-hood-for-small-motor/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 14:16:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1099897 This is the first ever set of spy shots of the upcoming Mazda MX-5 Miata based Fiat 124 Spider with near-production body work. Damn, honey, you’ve got a big nose. While this addition to the Fiat lineup is quite covered in camo in these photos, it’s easy to see the roadster will rock a longer hood than […]

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This is the first ever set of spy shots of the upcoming Mazda MX-5 Miata based Fiat 124 Spider with near-production body work.

Damn, honey, you’ve got a big nose.

While this addition to the Fiat lineup is quite covered in camo in these photos, it’s easy to see the roadster will rock a longer hood than the Mazda MX-5. However, it looks like other elements stay quite similar to the original on which it’s based, including the curved windshield surround and proportions of the rear deck.

If rumor is to be believed, the new Fiat 124 will be powered by the same 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder found in other Fiat products. Power will be sent to the rear via a six-speed manual transmission and possibly a six-speed dual clutch or conventional automatic.

We will likely see the Fiat 124 in all its glory this November at the Los Angeles International Auto Show. Expect sales to start next year.

The new Fiat will be built alongside the MX-5 in Japan.

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2016 Mazda2 European Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2016-mazda2-european-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2016-mazda2-european-review/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 14:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077026 The Mazda2 is another car whose absence in the US market will bring tears to the eyes of driving enthusiasts – and rightly so, because it’s a great little car. At the same time, it was probably the right call by Mazda not to import it to the States. This car can truly shine, but wide open […]

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2016 Mazda2 European Spec

The Mazda2 is another car whose absence in the US market will bring tears to the eyes of driving enthusiasts – and rightly so, because it’s a great little car. At the same time, it was probably the right call by Mazda not to import it to the States. This car can truly shine, but wide open American roads are not the right place for it, no matter how much canyon carving petrolheads would like them to be.

Ask a typical automotive enthusiast or petrolhead about modern cars and you’ll probably hear they are rubbish and the older cars are “just right”. You’ll hear modern cars are too full of electronics. They’re too bloated. The driver is isolated too much from the task of driving. With everything being focused on comfort, safety and economy, the joy of driving suffers.

Try to explain this to the typical car buyer and you get a blank stare in return, which is why the Mazda2 won’t be a sales hit in Europe, and would be a flop in America. It’s is a shame, really, because it’s a wonderful little car.

So, why won’t people buy one over, say, the Citroën C4 Cactus or Škoda Fabia? Or some tiny little crossover, which is actually less practical, but more expensive? Let’s explain it on the Fabia, which I tested recently, and which is a direct competitor to the 2 on European market.

2016 Mazda2 European Spec

As I mentioned several times in the review, sitting in the Fabia feels like you’re in a bigger car than its dimensions suggest. It uses the architecture and interior design language of bigger Volkswagen products and drives in a very “grown up” and confident manner. While a decade or two ago, a supermini was something you bought only to drive around town, the Fabia is a perfectly capable highway cruiser – or it would be, if it had more power.

The Mazda, on the other hand, feels and drives like a small car. Truth be told, the 2 I borrowed for this review was a poverty-spec example with the base 75 hp 1.5L four-cylinder engine while the Fabia esd equipped with its available top-of-the-line 110 hp 1.2 turbo plant, but that doesn’t change much about the way both cars feel.

The first difference is obvious: the Fabia is just larger inside. This is to be expected, as Fabia plays the “half a class above the competitors” game that’s typical for Škodas. However, the Mazda is a bit small even when compared to the average of its class, with cramped rear quarters and a relatively small boot. If you want to use your supermini as a family car, this will not work as well as the Fabia.

2016 Mazda2 European Spec

Then there’s the interior ambiance. The Mazda’s cabin is quite pretty to look at and everything feels slender, smooth and stylish. The Mazda’s “sports car feel” is in contrast to the Fabia and its direct competitors offering up their “big car” interior atmosphere. It’s in the details: a tiny rev counter in the corner of the dash instead of proper dial. Radio or infotainment system sticking out of the dash like a sore thumb. And, of course, the slightly tinny sound made by closing doors.

Don’t get me wrong – the Mazda’s interior doesn’t feel cheap or ugly. It’s just a tad too obvious  the main concern was saving weight and not creating a luxurious experience for those inside. Today’s customers want to be pampered.

What they do not appreciate are the finer things in automobile that we as enthusiasts hold supreme, like sublime suspension tuning or a lovely, naturally aspirated engine paired with a precise, delicate manual transmission. Which is sad, because those count among the main reasons for buying a Mazda2.

2016 Mazda2 European Spec

Let’s start with the engine first. As I already mentioned, my press loaner was powered with the least powerful, least sophisticated version of the 1.5 SKYACTIV four-cylinder. It lacks the trick 4-2-1 headers, crazy compression ratio and – on paper – it looks seriously underpowered. Compared to both superminis I drove before and after the Mazda2 (the aforementioned Fabia 1.2 TSI and Corsa 1.0 Turbo), its 75 hp seems almost like a joke.

Trust me, it isn’t. Having driven a few cars with N/A engines neutered by EU5 emission standards lately, I started to think that turbocharging is the only remaining way to go. Mazda proved me (and probably many others) wrong. There is nothing neutered about this engine. Thanks to its large displacement (for a base engine in an EU-market supermini), it’s not lacking torque in the low range, and it somehow keeps the rev-happy characteristics of a classic Japanese four-pot. I’ve never been a great fan of revvy four-cylinders and I actually like the diesel version of Mazda6 more than the gasoline one, but the four-banger in the Mazda2 is a delight. I found myself revving it right to the redline just for fun and, of course, sometimes out of necessity because 75 hp isn’t really much. That’s not to say the 2 is unbearably slow. On the contrary, it was much quicker than I expected and at normal pace it was perfectly fine. I was surprised by its ability to overtake at A-road speeds (around 60-65 mph in CZ), as well as its relative stability and bearability near the top speed of about 110 mph.

2016 Mazda2 European Spec

Which neatly brings us back to the suspension. The example I tested is probably the least sporty Mazda2 that can be ordered. Small, 15 inch steel wheels with plastic hubcaps and narrow, tall tires. Couple that with a relatively soft suspension and light, city-biased steering with almost no feel or weight whatsoever, it doesn’t sound like a “sporty” small hatchback. As you’ve probably guessed, though, the opposite is true. The 2 represents what I would call the “English school of suspension tuning”. It isn’t low and stiff like German sports cars, designed for impeccable Teutonic roadways. Instead, it uses its suppleness and light weight to be quick and nimble even on broken surfaces – and to be comfortable enough that you don’t get scared off a “spirited drive” by the jolts and jittering.

If I were to distill the previous paragraphs into one sentence, it would sound like this: Unlike the Fabia, which tries hard to feel like an Octavia or Passat (and succeeds to a remarkable degree), the Mazda2 tries really hard to feel as much like a Miata as possible (and succeeds as well). It’s a pretty, lightweight little hatchback with a lovely engine that’s a hoot to drive. The problem for you, our readers from US, is the typical American buyer has precious little appreciation for things like balanced handling or a sweet, revvy, naturally aspirated engine. It’s nice that it gets great fuel mileage (over 30 mpg even in a bit of a rush), but it probably won’t really shine when coupled with its available automatic transmission. Also, the great, nimble suspension will be of little use during typical American commute.

2016 Mazda2 European Spec

The good news? The CX-3 crossover shares a platform with this car. The first CX-3 reviews promise that it may provide much of the things that are great about the 2 while looking large and substantial enough to allure a typical American customer. Considering the base CX-3 with 120 hp 2.0L SKYACTIV engine costs about the same money on the Czech market as the Mazda2 with a 90 hp SKYACTIV 1.5 and only marginally better equipment is probably the real (and quite understandable) reason why Mazda is pulling the plug on the Mazda2’s U.S. sales. Both cars probably cost roughly the same money to build, with the CX-3 being much more interesting to a typical American and only marginally worse for a driving enthusiast.

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives an Alfa 164 Diesel he got for free. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

Photography: David Marek

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Lifted Rally Miata Proves It’s Still The Answer To Everything http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/lifted-rally-miata-proves-still-answer-everything/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/lifted-rally-miata-proves-still-answer-everything/#comments Sun, 03 May 2015 13:59:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1059482 The ongoing automotive journalist meme that Mazda’s nearly perfect Miata is the answer to everything may not technically be true. But, this “Lifted Rally” Miata sure makes a good case in its favor. This example is an original NA Miata featuring none other than British Racing Green paint. It’s been lifted with longer springs and FM upper […]

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The ongoing automotive journalist meme that Mazda’s nearly perfect Miata is the answer to everything may not technically be true. But, this “Lifted Rally” Miata sure makes a good case in its favor.

This example is an original NA Miata featuring none other than British Racing Green paint. It’s been lifted with longer springs and FM upper perch spacers, though the owner admits he wouldn’t take it off-road as the spring are at “near factory rate”. Inside, the seats have been reshod in new vinyl, a “vintage” roll hoop has been added, and the owner claims the car itself is completely rust free. If you don’t feel like dealing with the hardtop, the MX-5 is equipped with the latest in tan glass window top fashions. (Sorry, hardtop not included.)

The rally-wannabe NA MX-5 is listed on Grassroots Motorsports with a $4,200 asking price in Roswell, GA.

[h/t Bring A Trailer]

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2016 Mazda6 Wagon 2.2D AWD A/T European First Drive http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/european-first-drive-mazda-6-wagon-2-2-d-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/european-first-drive-mazda-6-wagon-2-2-d-awd/#comments Fri, 01 May 2015 12:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1050497 The current Mazda6 is revered for its Skyactiv naturally aspirated gasoline engines and nimble, light-footed handling. Replacing one of the last great N/A engines in its class with a turbo-diesel seems a bit like heresy. Opting for an automatic transmission and four-wheel drive is mutiny. But, will those choices make a great driver’s car boring? Or […]

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The current Mazda6 is revered for its Skyactiv naturally aspirated gasoline engines and nimble, light-footed handling. Replacing one of the last great N/A engines in its class with a turbo-diesel seems a bit like heresy. Opting for an automatic transmission and four-wheel drive is mutiny. But, will those choices make a great driver’s car boring? Or will they actually make it better?

Being invited to the press launch of a bunch of facelifted models isn’t much reason to celebrate for most automotive journos. But, when I got a chance to attend a recent Mazda press conference, I jumped at the chance; not to prove there’s such a thing as a free lunch, nor because it was – conveniently – about three miles from my house. I was eager to go because, between the end of my gig at the Czech edition of Top Gear and the point when my own website really got going, I managed to miss a whole generation of Mazdas.

From what I’d heard and read – both from my colleagues at home and on TTAC – the new crop of Mazdas was really good. So I wasn’t in it for the deer with creamy sauce (although it was delicious). I was in it because I wanted to drive the cars.

First, I drove the Mazda3, which wasn’t even new. It was great, but you already know that. Derek liked one so much he bought it.

Then it was time for the facelifted Mazda6. I went for the best one: gasoline sedan with manual transmission; lightest of the bunch with an engine that’s legendary (easy to do, being a large, naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four in a world of downsized turbo plants) and a lovely manual gearbox.

It was as good as I expected. For a large sedan – in Europe, non-premium sedans don’t get much better than this – it shows a great dose of sportiness and provides an unusual amount of fun. You have, especially with the facelifted version, all the bells and whistles to which you’re accustomed. At the same time, there’s a whiff of jinba ittai (a horse and a rider as one) from the Miata. It’s easy to find a proper driving position; steering wheel close to your chest, seat low and the backrest at nearly vertical feels comfortable. The gearshift is gloriously precise with a deliciously short throw. The suspension works exactly as you want; compliant when presented with ruts and potholes and still stable and resists roll remarkably well.

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The engine isn’t going to spoil the fun, either. It’s hungry for revs. With its aforementioned enjoyable gearshift along with nicely placed and spaced pedals, the Mazda6, especially with the European-spec 2.0 engine, just begs to be revved. Rev-matching downshifts are a breeze. For many buyers, the engine will be the main reason for buying the Mazda’s family sedan – more so than the suspension, and maybe even more so than all those new, shiny and clever things they told us about at the press event (and which I wasn’t able or willing to try out on my short drive). Most competitors use touchscreens, which can be annoying and even dangerous, but the Mazda6 uses an iDrive-esque control that’s more to my liking.

Then – something strange happened.

With no great expectations, I jumped behind the wheel of a CX-5 crossover with a diesel engine. I wasn’t really surprised that flinging it around my favourite backroad (conveniently located some two miles from the event venue) was much more fun than any family crossover has the right to be. Yet, what really got me interested was its engine.

I’m afraid that I will be condemned by JDM fans, purists and petrolheads all around the world, but I enjoyed the diesel version even better than the Last Mohican of the N/A gasoline engines. That might be caused by my affinity to large engines with their deep exhaust notes, dislike for revs, and lots of grunt low down, but I found the diesel engine’s growl more pleasant than the shriek of its gasoline counterpart. While revving the N/A four was fun, the turbodiesel was quite happy in the upper part of the rev counter as well – allowing for relaxed driving without having to shift all the time.

Thinking about this on the way back, I got a hunch. If the CX-5 is still fun and if the diesel engine can sound more pleasant (to my ears) than the gasoline one…could the diesel Mazda6 actually be the better option? Maybe the newly introduced AWD could, in fact, improve the driving experience.

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With that in mind upon returning the CX-5, I requested a diesel wagon with AWD with the automatic. All the previous cars were manuals (yes, in our part of the world, the standard transmission is still that – standard). If the diesel is so good in a CUV, it should be even better in a wagon, right? And AWD should help, too. The modern part-time AWD systems are good enough to be useful even on dry pavement – a comparison a few years back of a standard Passat with one equipped with 4Motion proved that.

After getting the keys, I set off with great anticipation. This should, in theory, be the best car of the lot. But it didn’t begin well. While the FWD, gasoline sedan was admirably compliant and comfortable, the diesel AWD wagon wasn’t. For some reason, the ride was noticeably more choppy and even small imperfections of the road were transmitted into cabin. I suspected the wheels, but both cars were fitted with 19s.

It has to be something else. There are two main suspects. The AWD system may have something to do with it, but I lean towards blaming it on weight. The wagon itself is a bit heavier than its trunked counterpart, and the diesel engine is probably much heavier than gasoline one. I’ve seen several cars ruined by a heavy engine and the stiffer springs/shocks that go with it.

On my favorite back road, though, the news was much more positive. As in the CX-5, the diesel engine is unexpectedly pleasant – in its sound, hunger for revs or lots of torque everywhere. I wouldn’t say it’s really better from a driver’s perspective, but it’s not worse, either. I can imagine drivers that would prefer each one of them.

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Next big difference is the AWD. It was useful from the beginning, helping me to launch from the side road without front tires scraping for traction. And it made itself worthwhile on the open road as well. You probably won’t notice it in sweeping curves, but in tighter ones, no more spinning of the inner wheel; just lots of nice, clean traction. It even helps mitigate the understeer a bit.

So, is this the best possible Mazda6? Of course not. It’s not a diesel manual wagon. While that may sound like a cliché (at least in North America – in Europe, it’s a pretty standard and boring mode of transportation), the manual transmission would really enhance the driving experience. While the automatic isn’t really bad, it’s far too slow for someone spoiled with DSGs and modern automatics, like the ubiquitous 8-speed ZF. A click of the paddle right before the corner, when you would just snap in a lower cog with a nice throttle blip, usually produces nothing more than information on the displey in the dash. Something like “we’re working on it“.

Expecting an automatic in a diesel family wagon to act “sporty“ is a bit unrealistic, especially from a small-ish automaker like Mazda. But if someone buys it for the driving experience, they would probably pick the manual and can rest assured that even by choosing the boring combo of diesel wagon with AWD, he didn’t sacrifice much of the wonderful handling for which this car is synonymous.

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz and writes for various other Czech outlets. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives a ratty Chrysler LHS. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

Photography courtesy of Mazda

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New York 2015: Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Edition Set To Bow http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/nyias-2015-mazda-mx-5-miata-club-edition-set-bow/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/nyias-2015-mazda-mx-5-miata-club-edition-set-bow/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029737 Coming next week, Mazda will unveil its most aggressive version of the new MX-5 Miata when it brings the MX-5 Miata Club Edition to New York. Though little information was given about what the Club Edition will bring to the party, Mazda says the model will amplify the driving experience already found in the standard […]

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Coming next week, Mazda will unveil its most aggressive version of the new MX-5 Miata when it brings the MX-5 Miata Club Edition to New York.

Though little information was given about what the Club Edition will bring to the party, Mazda says the model will amplify the driving experience already found in the standard model, “harking back to the early lightweight sports cars that inspired it, but serving as a beacon for the future as a thoroughly modern, sophisticated package.”

Speculation points to the Accessories Design Concept from the 2015 Chicago Auto Show for inspiration, as well as the current Club Edition, including black wheels, limited-slip differential, and an appearance package.

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2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Curb Weight Figures Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2016-mazda-mx-5-miata-curb-weight-figures-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2016-mazda-mx-5-miata-curb-weight-figures-revealed/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1021081 Wanting to know how much the curb weight of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata will be? Wonder no more. AutoGuide says the icon’s curb weight with the manual transmission comes to 2,332 lbs, while the automatic takes the weight up to 2,381 lbs. In comparison, the outgoing Miata weighs 2,480 lbs with the manual, 2,542 […]

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Wanting to know how much the curb weight of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata will be? Wonder no more.

AutoGuide says the icon’s curb weight with the manual transmission comes to 2,332 lbs, while the automatic takes the weight up to 2,381 lbs. In comparison, the outgoing Miata weighs 2,480 lbs with the manual, 2,542 lbs with the auto.

As a result of the ~150-pound weight reduction, the 2016 Miata has a power-to-weight ratio of 0.066 horsepower per pound. It also is lighter than the Scion FR-S, which tips the scales at 2,758 lbs.

Power for the new roadster in North America will be a 2-liter Skyactiv four-pot delivering 155 horses and 148 lb-ft of torque to the back, while the rest of the world also receives a 1.5-liter four with 129 horses and 110 lb-ft of torque.

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Mazda’s Entire Line ‘Up For Discussion’ In Future Salamanca Expansion Plans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/mazdas-entire-line-discussion-future-salamanca-expansion-plans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/mazdas-entire-line-discussion-future-salamanca-expansion-plans/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1002818 Sometime in the future, your next Mazda6 could be assembled and shipped to the showroom from Mazda’s factory in Salamanca, Mexico. According to Automotive News, Mazda North American Operations CEO Jim O’Sullivan says that when it comes time to add more vehicles to the Salamanca production line, the entire collection would be up for discussion: […]

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Sometime in the future, your next Mazda6 could be assembled and shipped to the showroom from Mazda’s factory in Salamanca, Mexico.

According to Automotive News, Mazda North American Operations CEO Jim O’Sullivan says that when it comes time to add more vehicles to the Salamanca production line, the entire collection would be up for discussion:

We’re continuing to look at opportunities for that plant, and asking what else should we consider putting into it. You don’t build an assembly plant for one product. It’s going to be an ongoing investment.

The decision to add more vehicles to the line is linked to Mexico’s own free-trade agreements with a number of countries throughout the world, a greater influence for automakers to consider building its wares there than the nation’s low-cost labor.

The Mazda2 and Mazda3 are currently in production in Salamanca, with a version of the former for Toyota to begin assembly late in 2016.

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Chicago 2015: 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Accessories Design Concept Arrives http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-2016-mazda-mx-5-miata-accessories-design-concept-arrives/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-2016-mazda-mx-5-miata-accessories-design-concept-arrives/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 17:32:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=998138 Perhaps as way to keep tongues wagging until summer, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata turned up in some new clothes for the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The Accessories Design Concept features components lifted from the MX-5 Global Cup car set to hit the track this season. Said components include: front air-dam; side-sill extensions; and a […]

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Perhaps as way to keep tongues wagging until summer, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata turned up in some new clothes for the 2015 Chicago Auto Show.

The Accessories Design Concept features components lifted from the MX-5 Global Cup car set to hit the track this season. Said components include: front air-dam; side-sill extensions; and a backside reworked for improved aero.

Brembo brakes help slow the forged BBS wheels around the hairpin, while a carbon-fiber luggage rack with integrated third-brake light allows the driver and a lucky passenger to pack more than just a day’s worth of clothing; the rack also weighs less than 2 pounds.

The concept is also a homecoming for the Miata, as the first-gen version of the iconic roadster bowed in Chicago back in 1989. The 2016 version, meanwhile, is set to hit showrooms this summer.

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Behind The Scenes At The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long Lead Preview http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/behind-scenes-2016-mazda-mx-5-miata-long-lead-preview/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/behind-scenes-2016-mazda-mx-5-miata-long-lead-preview/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 13:30:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991954 To say that the global preview for the new MX-5 was “exclusive” would be like calling the Moon “rarely visited”. Only eight North American journalists had the chance to drive one of just four available cars over the course of two days. The good news is that we each got nearly two hours in the […]

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To say that the global preview for the new MX-5 was “exclusive” would be like calling the Moon “rarely visited”. Only eight North American journalists had the chance to drive one of just four available cars over the course of two days. The good news is that we each got nearly two hours in the “ND”, all on mostly empty roads and without a drive partner.

The better news is that I got an additional two hours to interview key management and engineering personnel from Mazda after my drive. I didn’t get all the answers I wanted, but I got a few that you won’t get anywhere else — at least not yet.

You can see my review of the MX-5 in right-hand-drive, 1.5-liter, JDM (yo) form here. Due to space limitations, however, that article doesn’t include several interview tidbits and additional information. So, without further ado:

  • As part of the efforts to reduce weight and lower the polar moment of inertia, the roll hoops and their supporting structure are now made from aluminum. Since this makes welding a competition rollcage a tricky business, the MX-5s that are being used in the new Global MX-5 Cup will have a steel structure in place of the aluminum one — but what does this mean for future generations of Spec Miata and other road-car-into-race-car series?
  • Part of the new MX-5’s responsiveness comes from a lighter flywheel. This is an old trick to increase the perceived power of a car, but it always comes at the cost of low-speed driveability and NVH. To cut down on the resulting vibration, there are fifty-gram damping weights mounted on the differential. How light is the flywheel? Mazda wouldn’t say. They did show an engineering diagram that appears to suggest that the weight savings comes from machining the outer rim with oval depressions. The flywheel in the NC was 16.2 pounds; street/race flywheels from the aftermarket can be as low as half that. My guess: fourteen pounds.
  • However, Mazda did disclose that the flywheel is single-mass instead of dual-mass/rubber-damped.
  • In conversations with the drivetrain engineer, he specifically declined to state that the much lighter, aluminum case rear differential has the same power handling capacity as the old one. He was only willing to state that it was the same for both engines and that it had been engineered to handle the two-liter, which has slightly more torque (148 lb-ft vs. 141 lb-ft) than before.
  • The suspension is single-rate sprung and very soft, which I think is a good thing. This car rides pretty well for the size and weight.
  • There’s more legroom in this Miata than there was in its predecessor, and I never felt cramped during my two-hour drive. With that said, I have short legs for my height, and usually wear a thirty-two or thirty-three inch inseam. What about headroom? Although the driver sits twenty millimeters lower, the windshield’s lower as well. I had no trouble sitting in such a fashion as to align my eyes with the sunshades. Tall drivers beware. This might be particularly true with the top up; it’s lower profile than it was in the NC.

While the Internet is already foaming at the mouth about the 155-horsepower rating for the SKYACTIV two-liter, I continue to believe this is the best Miata in history and very much worth the money, assuming it costs at least one penny less than a Boxster 2.7. Not that the Boxster is as fun to drive, sad to say. Regardless of the power, if you want to be one of the early adopters, my recommendation would be to get in line now.

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Land Rovers, Jaguars Et Al Leave Höegh Osaka After Month At Sea http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/land-rovers-jaguars-et-al-leave-hoegh-osaka-month-sea/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/land-rovers-jaguars-et-al-leave-hoegh-osaka-month-sea/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991122 Having spent most of January on its side, the Höegh Osaka returned to Southampton, England Tuesday to unload 1,400 premium vehicles bound for Germany. According to The Daily Mail, the car carrier was intentionally run aground in the Solent off the Isle of Wight January 3 when it began to list at 52 degrees shortly […]

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Land Rover Hoegh Osaka

Having spent most of January on its side, the Höegh Osaka returned to Southampton, England Tuesday to unload 1,400 premium vehicles bound for Germany.

According to The Daily Mail, the car carrier was intentionally run aground in the Solent off the Isle of Wight January 3 when it began to list at 52 degrees shortly after departing for Germany through the English Channel. Around 1,400 premium vehicles were onboard, including Land Rover Defenders, Jaguar XFs, MINIs, a Rolls-Royce Wraith, and a Porsche Boxster.

Presently, each of the 1,400 vehicles aboard are being inspected for any damage, especially the type that would mean a final ride to the crusher. The final total won’t come until early next week at the latest, though a decision to follow in Mazda’s footsteps — the automaker scrapped 4,700 units aboard the Cougar Ace in 2006 — would prove costly; the total value of Höegh Osaka’s cargo stands at £30 million ($45 million USD).

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TTAC Long Term Update #2: 2015 Mazda 3 Sport http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/ttac-long-term-update-2-2015-mazda-3-sport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/ttac-long-term-update-2-2015-mazda-3-sport/#comments Fri, 02 Jan 2015 22:11:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=970489 This will be the first winter since 2009 when I will not be driving an open top sports car. I can say with confidence that for a daily driver in the Snowbelt, the answer is not necessarily “Miata”. As much as I adored my Miatas, I had come to the realization that the six months […]

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This will be the first winter since 2009 when I will not be driving an open top sports car. I can say with confidence that for a daily driver in the Snowbelt, the answer is not necessarily “Miata”.

As much as I adored my Miatas, I had come to the realization that the six months of blissful, open-air motoring in the summer was outweighed by the misery of driving one in the winter.

Traction in the snow was the least of my problems. With a good set of winters and a limited slip-differential, I was never once stuck, spun around or slipping excessively in the snow or on ice.

Things that did suck, in no particular order

  1. The utter lack of insulation, which made the car freezing cold. Not even the hardtop could remedy this.
  2. No ABS. Some of the more cantakerous types will probably be rolling their eyes at this assertion. I know how to threshold brake, but I also know the sheer panic of trying to come to a complete stop on a slick road after a child has just ran into the street to get their ball. Never. Again.
  3. The rather limited cabin space is not conducive to wearing a parka and size 11.5 EE Red Wing snow boots.
  4. Jack’s accident made me think twice about driving a car with a less than modern suite of safety features.

For now, I am enjoying the relative warmth of the all-steel bodyshell, the heated seats, the Bluetooth system, the rear seats and proper trunk. I am sure that, come spring, I’ll be missing my Miata.

The big change for this month was the addition of a set of snow tires. Our friends at TireSpot recommended a set of Hankook Winter i-Pike RS W419s in 205/60/16, and I immediately installed them in preparation for another Polar Vortex. Of course, it’s been a warm winter, with only a light dusting of snow, but this weekend’s winter storm should reveal how they perform in the white stuff. Fuel economy is sitting at 26 mpg, largely in town. On our next tank, we’ll see what kind of effect the snow tires have on fuel economy.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Mazda Miata Grand Touring PRHT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-review-2015-mazda-miata-grand-touring-prht/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-review-2015-mazda-miata-grand-touring-prht/#comments Mon, 29 Dec 2014 14:54:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=968873 One of the burdens of being right is that people are always trying to prove you wrong. The Mazda MX-5 Miata knows what I’m talking about. For a quarter century, the Miata has suffered the slings and arrows of upstart challengers. Those others have come and gone while the Miata remains. It’s right and Mazda […]

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2015 Mazda Miata Grand Touring PRHT

One of the burdens of being right is that people are always trying to prove you wrong.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata knows what I’m talking about. For a quarter century, the Miata has suffered the slings and arrows of upstart challengers. Those others have come and gone while the Miata remains. It’s right and Mazda knows it.

The Miata doesn’t get refreshed often, but it just happened again. Until you can buy that one, this old crock, the “NC,” is your only choice.

How can a car that’s 10 years old with less power than the Scion FR-S (which I have already commented about) and an automatic transmission still be right? I’m sure to like this car even less than I liked the Toyobaru, right?

Wrongo.

2015 Mazda Miata Grand Touring PRHT front three quarter top down

It was disappointing to see an automatic transmission shift quadrant when I looked through the passenger-side window. The fleet driver had left a voicemail telling me he’d dropped off a Miata, so I wrapped up the weekly resource allocation meeting as quickly as possible and headed for the parking lot. I haven’t had a Miata to drive in several years, and with a manual, they are quite the delight.

I became indignant

Why do automakers do this? Why undercut driver engagement? Getting over my precious self, the answer is clear: most people buy cars with automatics. Even tidy convertibles with sporty personalities.

People are stupid. They are both lazy and incompetent behind the wheel. Because people are stupid, I was going to have to suffer a stupid week in this stupid car set up for stupid idiots.

I wasn’t expecting much out of the self-shifting MX-5. Boy, was I surprised.

2015 Mazda Miata Grand Touring PRHT automatic transmission shifter

The Miata is perfect, regardless of which transmission you choose. It’s lively and light on its feet. It’s involving to drive, and it doesn’t give a crap about the numbers that internet racers obsess over.

Whatever spec-sheet triumphs the Miata lacks, it makes up for in personality. It’s a car that wants to play. There’s just 167 hp coming from the 2.0 liter four cylinder, which drops to 158hp with the 6-speed automatic. The power reduction comes courtesy of a redline that moves down from 7,200 rpm with a manual to 6,700 rpm with the auto. Torque stays the same at 140 lb-ft, which makes me think the horsepower reduction is a camshaft/valve timing/redline thing. It also doesn’t matter, because the torque converter does its low-speed multiplication thing. Performance off the line is responsive, and the automatic knows what the hell it’s doing. Call the powertrain dated, I call it well-developed and proven.

2015 Mazda Miata Grand Touring PRHT 2.0 liter engine

There’s only about 2,500 lbs to deal with here. That’s why the Miata feels more lively than you might expect. The Miata is playing with just 10 fewer lb-ft of torque than the Toyobarus, but the Scion FR-S automatic I had a while back was 300 lbs heavier. And it sucked in ways the Miata doesn’t. The Miata’s torque peak is at 5,000 rpm, a full 1,600 rpm sooner than the FR-S, and that translates to more immediate delivery of what muscle there is. When shifted manually, the automatic was even responsive enough to be satisfying. I would have preferred a manual, of course, but the Miata’s glow doesn’t dim with an automatic, and Mazda is smart to offer it, because purists are crappy new car buyers.

The Miata isn’t without some horseshit. There’s a “Induction Sound Enhancer,”  a membrane in the intake manifold that vibrates at specially-tuned frequencies to sound more like an MGB gulping through SU carburetors. More aural snarl enhances the experience, and it’s not as asinine as BMWs that play back engine recordings through the audio system, but it’s still something that took development time and dollars to create an artifice. There are also steering-wheel mounted shift paddles with a learning curve (buttons above for downshift, below for up, you’ll definitely pick the wrong one mid-corner.) That’s about it for shenanigans with the Miata, though, the rest is just solid performance and capability.

2015 Mazda Miata Grand Touring PRHT leather seats

The interior is clearly a 10 year old design and uses materials from another era. The design is a plus, the materials, if you care, are a negative. Three knobs for climate, a pair for the radio, all within easy reach, who needs more? The plastic on the center stack of my test car had picked up a surprising amount of nicks and scuff marks in just three thousand miles; not a good look. The controls feel good, there’s no goddamn touchscreen to confound you, the steering wheel feels good in your hands, and it’s connected to one of the most direct rack-and-pinions in the business.

The Miata Grand Touring like I drove is the most luxed-up model. The seats are done up in leather, a handsome color called Spicy Mocha in this case, with fake cowhide on the door panels. It’s a classy look, especially in a color other than dour black. The snug cabin has all the charm that you’ve been told it does. Because I’m under 6’ tall, it’s a delightfully close environment. Taller or wider folks will bump into the physical limitations of the Miata, but reports are that it can still be comfortable, even for tall folks.

Other Grand Touring features are the Bose audio system, standard 17” alloy wheels, strut-tower brace, automatic climate control, and silver-trimmed rollover hoops. As welcome as the extra filigree is, the main point here is the underlying car. The Premium Package my car had goes hand-in-hand with the Suspension Package. This is where the real action happens. It’s a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein dampers and a limited-slip differential.

2015 Mazda Miata Grand Touring PRHT rear three quarter top down

Despite its senior status, the outgoing Miata feels solid. It’s not as drum-tight as a Boxster, but there’s still a beefy sill to step over. Aluminum is used in the hood and trunklid to keep both weight, and the center of gravity, low. Some suspension components and the rear brake calipers are also aluminum. The strut tower brace under the hood ties the upper mounting points for the front suspension to the firewall for extra rigidity. What that means from behind the wheel is a steering column that doesn’t shake much, and a structure that doesn’t wind up during maneuvering. I was expecting the Miata to feel like a car that had been engineered in the naughties. Not so. It goes down the road with a contemporary attitude that’s relaxed, frisky, and capable, all at once.

That intake manifold honker thing pipes some pleasant growl into the cabin, but it’s still silly. The chassis is tuned with a fine balance between comfort and control. The Miata’s ride is absorbent, but that doesn’t mean the handling won’t make you grin. There’s all kinds of information coming to your hands through the steering column, and the engine’s response is eager and linear. Compared to that FR-S bogey, the Porsche-like precise feeling of the Scion is traded for more comfort in the Miata. It’s a loss on paper that makes the Miata a better car to drive in the real world. The Miata feels more responsive, the power curve doesn’t do funny whoop-de-dos, and it gives you what you ask for.

The Miata’s role as a modern-day MGB means you sit more upright than you might expect. It’s a small car, for sure, but it’s long-haul comfortable. The useable trunk and extra refinement offered by the power-retractable hardtop make the Miata an all-weather, all-seasons car.

2015 Mazda Miata Grand Touring PRHT top down front three quarter

While there are other sporty coupes for not a lot of money, there aren’t many. None are as well-rounded as the Miata. You want to go racing? It’ll do that. Taking your mother in law to the grocery store? It’s got that covered, as well. In Grand Touring trim with the automatic, the MSRP is $30,550, and the final tally was a luxurious $33,000 with my car’s Premium Package (HID lights, Bluetooth, Keyless Entry and start, satellite radio, alarm). That’s about as expensive as you can make it, and it’s not hard to stay in the $20,000s. The Miata won’t embarrass grown-ups, but it’s not dull in the least. There’s a reason why it’s one of the cars I recommend the most. Let’s hope they don’t screw up the next one.

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Alfa Romeo To Build Spider On Own Platform, Mazda MX-5 To Fiat-Abarth http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/alfa-romeo-build-spider-platform-mazda-mx-5-fiat-abarth/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/alfa-romeo-build-spider-platform-mazda-mx-5-fiat-abarth/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963858 Alfa Romeo will be going its own way for its upcoming Spider, directing Mazda to take its 2016 MX-5 over to Fiat-Abarth instead. Car reports the new roadster will be “a derivative of project Giorgio,” per Alfa and Maserati brand boss Harald Wester. Giorgio is, of course, the RWD platform that will underpin many a […]

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Alfa Romeo will be going its own way for its upcoming Spider, directing Mazda to take its 2016 MX-5 over to Fiat-Abarth instead.

Car reports the new roadster will be “a derivative of project Giorgio,” per Alfa and Maserati brand boss Harald Wester. Giorgio is, of course, the RWD platform that will underpin many a new Alfa, including the expected 159 successor due early this coming summer.

As for the MX-5’s role in the matter, the platform will be heading to Fiat-Abarth, raising the possibility for a new Barchetta or stand-alone Abarth model to emerge from Mazda’s Hiroshima facility in the near future. Alfa’s Spider, however, will be made in Italy, per CEO Sergio Marchionne’s vision for the Alfa brand.

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Shimizu: Takata Hasn’t Found The Cause Of Airbag Failures http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/shimizu-takata-hasnt-found-cause-airbag-failures/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/shimizu-takata-hasnt-found-cause-airbag-failures/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 15:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955722 Takata has yet to find the root cause of the defect affecting its airbags; Autoliv will supply replacements to Honda; and Toyota, Mazda and Chrysler are expanding their recalls. Reuters reports Takata hasn’t found the cause behind the catastrophic failures in its airbags, per testimony given by safety executive Hiroshi Shimizu before Congress Wednesday. That […]

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Shimizu, Takata's Senior Vice President for global quality assurance, testifies before a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing in Washington

Takata has yet to find the root cause of the defect affecting its airbags; Autoliv will supply replacements to Honda; and Toyota, Mazda and Chrysler are expanding their recalls.

Reuters reports Takata hasn’t found the cause behind the catastrophic failures in its airbags, per testimony given by safety executive Hiroshi Shimizu before Congress Wednesday. That said, Shimizu said his company was of “the strong opinion that (there) is a factor contributing to this defect: which is high humidity, temperature and the life of the product.” He also claimed the ammonium nitrate used in the airbags was safe and stable, though he admitted replacements weren’t coming fast enough.

Meanwhile, competitor Autoliv announced it would supply replacements to Honda for vehicles in the United States. The automaker had mentioned before Congress it was in talks with the supplier and another, Daicel, regarding expanded production to replace modules in a nationwide recall. Autoliv will add capacity in its existing plants, with deliveries to come after six months.

Among the other affected automakers, Chrysler, Toyota and Mazda have stepped up their individual recall efforts. AutoGuide says the subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has called back 149,150 Dodge Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 models from the 2003 model year, covering Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan and the Virgin Islands. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated the move wasn’t enough, and is looking at what action to take next.

Over in Japan, Bloomberg reports Toyota is recalling 190,000 affected vehicles in its local market and in China. The recall comes on the news of a catastrophic detonation at a junkyard of a Takata airbag inside a 2003 WiLL Cypha; the detonation was part of the procedures outlined by Japan’s Automobile Recycling Law, which also requires dismantlers to report any problem to the automaker to determine if a recall is necessary.

Finally, The Detroit News says Mazda is recalling 40,000 more vehicles — including the 2003-2007 Mazda6, 2004-2008 RX-8, 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed6, 2004-2005 MPV and 2004 B-Series — in Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and Alabama. The automaker previously recalled 44,000 units in the U.S. and 2,600 in Puerto Rico.

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Los Angeles 2014: 2016 Mazda CX-5 Unmasked http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-2016-mazda-cx-5-unmasked/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-2016-mazda-cx-5-unmasked/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 00:05:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948169 Completing the Mazda trifecta of the all-new CX-3 and refreshed Mazda6 comes the revised CX-5. The 2016 update gives the crossover a face updated for the times, LED accents, 19-inch wheels, and nine colors from which to paint your world. As for the interior, higher-quality materials, improved NVH and seating, and more places to store […]

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Completing the Mazda trifecta of the all-new CX-3 and refreshed Mazda6 comes the revised CX-5.

The 2016 update gives the crossover a face updated for the times, LED accents, 19-inch wheels, and nine colors from which to paint your world. As for the interior, higher-quality materials, improved NVH and seating, and more places to store all the things are now available, as well as an electronic parking brake to keep things in place.

Under the hood, two engines deliver the power to the front or all four wheels: a 2-liter four-pot, and a 2.5-liter variant that is expected to save the driver from spending more at the pump than necessary.

Finally, the cyborgs in your life can enjoy the automaker’s Mazda Connect infotainment system, as well as the i-Activsense safety suite, which makes driving a little easier with features like radar-based cruise control and smart braking.

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Los Angeles 2014: 2016 Mazda6 Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-2016-mazda6-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-2016-mazda6-revealed/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 23:50:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948121 Meet the new boss, almost the same as the old boss. Refreshed for the 2016 model year, the Mazda6 has a revised smile, LED headlamps, and nine colors from which to choose. Meanwhile, the inside provides the driver with a first-ever-for-the-brand electric parking brake, minimized gaps between interior panels, and a 10 percent reduction in […]

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Meet the new boss, almost the same as the old boss.

Refreshed for the 2016 model year, the Mazda6 has a revised smile, LED headlamps, and nine colors from which to choose. Meanwhile, the inside provides the driver with a first-ever-for-the-brand electric parking brake, minimized gaps between interior panels, and a 10 percent reduction in NVH levels on rougher roads, 25 percent on properly paved highways.

Motivation is reduced to one engine: the 2.5-liter four-pot capable of moving 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque to the front. Six-speed auto and manual transmissions make the connection possible.

Tech goodies include the Mazda Connect infotainment system and the automaker’s i-Activsense safety suite, which has features such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and smart braking.

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TTAC Long Term Update: 2015 Mazda3 Sport http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/ttac-long-term-update-2015-mazda3-sport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/ttac-long-term-update-2015-mazda3-sport/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 19:21:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944873 What was supposed to be a milestone in my life – taking delivery of my first new car – ended up being thrown off by a slight mishap during PDI. And one that raises questions about Mazda’s Mexican operations. Before I took delivery of my new Mazda3, myself and my Dad gave the car a […]

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What was supposed to be a milestone in my life – taking delivery of my first new car – ended up being thrown off by a slight mishap during PDI. And one that raises questions about Mazda’s Mexican operations.

Before I took delivery of my new Mazda3, myself and my Dad gave the car a thorough once over on the dealer lot. There, we noticed the faint gouge just above the rear badge, as well as some white marks in and around the badge (less visible in the photo). I decided not to take delivery of the car and let Yorkdale Dufferin Mazda’s PDI guy work out the problem.

The next day, I got a call from the dealer, saying the Mazda would replace the hatch with an entirely new unit. It turned out that the original hatch wasn’t sprayed correctly, and Mazda would send a new, pre-painted unit to replace it. The 2.0L versions are built at Mazda’s all-new Salamanca, Mexico facility. Perhaps there are some teething problems with the plant. One OEM quality engineer I spoke to suggested that there may have been pre-delivery damage. But according to the legal disclosure given to me at delivery, there is none. Should it emerge, I have legal recourse.

Almost immediately, I ordered snow tires – and the timing was perfect, given that we have our first snowfall today. On the advice of my tire vendor, I went with the Hankook W419 RS, which are apparently performance oriented winter tires. We’ll see how they fare.

Thanks to Jason Donio and Yorkdale Dufferin Mazda for their assistance. They can be reached at 416-789-4521.

Thanks to Jason and Mitch at Tirespot. While they tires were purchased at retail with no discounts, I cannot recommend them enough. 416-283-1300.

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