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”.
The Mazda6 diesel, long awaited as the first major competitor to the Volkswagen Passat TDI, is being delayed due to difficulties meeting emissions standards without the need for after-treatment. TTAC has learned that Mazda is changing their strategy to incorporate an after-treatment, to help meet both emissions and performance benchmarks.
Our biggest complaint surrounding the 2014 Mazda3 was the lack of a stick shift option in the 2.5L, 184-horsepower 4-cylinder engine. We felt that the 155-horsepower 2.0L engine was just too limp for the car’s otherwise excellent chassis, but the lack of a manual with the big motor was a disappointment. No longer.
Last week, Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai said that the company had no plans for a production Wankel rotary anytime in the near future, though the company most identified with the engine that goes “hmmmm” will continue to do research on rotaries. Now, at the Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda is showing that its future powertrain plans include diesel, natural gas and hybrid drives.
The mainstream compact car segment is the perfect example of the infamous “driving appliance.” The Corolla and Civic sell in enormous volume because they are the middle-of-the-road “white bread” option, not in-spite of the vanilla. Unlike many in the automotive press, I don’t find anything wrong with that. In fact, I love me some Wonder Bread. But sometimes you feel like a pumpernickel, and that’s where the 2014 Mazda3 comes in. Mazda was so excited about their new loaf that they invited me to spend the day with them in San Diego. Want to know if you should spend 5+ years with one? Click through the jump.
For a car company that seems to have a perpetually precarious existence, things are going well at Mazda. Sales of their new range of products, like the CX-5 and the Mazda6, are relatively strong – I say relatively because the Mazda6’s volumes are about 10 percent of the Toyota Camry, and the whole brand sells fewer cars than Honda does Civics. But Mazda is banking on the new Mazda3 to help them get real traction in the market place. Not only is there a new car, but a new factory in Mexico as well, which will help insulate Mazda from then yen’s penchant for yo-yo’ing, as well as any future Fukushima-like disruptions.