2010 Mazda3 – more details released

November 19th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda 3 fq

Mazda has released a few more details on its 2010 Mazda3 just two days ahead of its official unveiling at the LA Auto Show later this week.

As with the out-going model there will be a base 2.0-litre engine that comes standard along with an optional larger unit, now enlarged to 2.5 litres. The displacement increase matches up to a power increase, raising power output to 167hp from 156. Both engines sit under a newly-domed hood and breathe air from a grinning front grille that seems to be the new car’s most controversial styling feature.

Both a four-door hatch/wagon and a sedan will be offered, but only the sedan will go on show this week in LA. Check back as we bring you more news from the LA Auto Show.

Mazda’s hydrogen powered rotary goes to Norway

October 17th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda RX7 Hydrogen fq

Mazda Motor Corporation announced today that is has introduced the Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE (Rotary Engine) vehicle to Norway’s public roads in collaboration with the Hydrogen Road of Norway, (HyNor) project. This marks the first time that a Mazda hydrogen rotary vehicle has been put into regular use on public roads outside Japan.

HyNor is a national project in Norway that aims to establish a clean energy transport system based on hydrogen fuel. Beginning in the fiscal year 2009, Mazda will provide approximately 30 RX-8 Hydrogen RE vehicles for the HyNor project under commercial lease contracts.

The RX-8 Hydrogen RE validation vehicle is being delivered in advance so that Mazda and HyNor can jointly assess its driving performance in Norway. It will also be exhibited at environmental and other events for potential customers who are interested in leasing a hydrogen vehicle.

“Up to now, real world use of Mazda’s hydrogen rotary vehicles has been limited to Japan.  Participation in the HyNor project marks our advancement to the next stage,” says Akihiro Kashiwagi, Mazda Program Manager in charge of hydrogen RE development. “After we validate the first vehicle on Norwegian roads, we intend to deliver 30 more units under commercial lease contracts.”

HyNor is a unique Norwegian initiative to demonstrate the implementation of a hydrogen energy infrastructure along a 580 km route from Oslo to Stavanger in Norway. Hydrogen filling stations are being established along this transport corridor to enable refuelling of hydrogen vehicles. The project aims to revolutionize transportation in Norway by encompassing buses, taxis and private cars, and varying types of transport systems, including urban, inter-city, regional and even long-distance transport.

Mazda3 to make world premiere in Los Angeles

October 10th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda 3 fq

The all-new Mazda3 sedan will have its world premiere at the Los Angeles Auto Show to be held from Wednesday November 19 through to Sunday November 30, 2008.

Following the release of the 2nd-generation Mazda2 and Mazda6, the all-new Mazda3 sees the first full redesign of Mazda’s big-selling sports compact in 5 years.

Mazda claims that every element of the all-new Mazda3 has been developed for heightened exhilaration, with a more refined sporty ride, top class fuel economy and quietness. Environmental and safety features, based on Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” vision, aim to achieve a balance with the fun-to-drive personality.

The brand new version of Mazda’s sports compact carries forward the legacy of the current Mazda3. Since its launch in 2003, the current Mazda3 has sold approx. 1.8 million vehicles in over 100 countries and has won global motoring awards, including awards in New Zealand.

Andrew Clearwater, managing director, Mazda New Zealand says the all-new Mazda3, due for release next year, represents another critical step forward for Mazda, “The new Mazda3 embodies Mazda’s latest car-making philosophy and engineering technology, making it a striking statement of the evolution of Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom promise.”

“From day one, the Mazda3 has been one of the most popular vehicles for Kiwi car buyers and even today, five years into its life cycle, sales have performed well above our expectations. With the continuing trend toward smaller more efficient vehicles, I’m absolutely convinced that the all-new Mazda3 will extend upon the success of the current generation.”

Following the world debut of the North American specification sedan with 2.0- and 2.5-litre engines at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, the five-door hatchback version of the all-new Mazda3 will be revealed in line with Mazda’s global sales schedule.

Revamped Mazda RX-8 launched at Pukekohe

September 22nd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda RX-8 launch 1

The new Mazda RX-8 sees better fuel economy, more power, new gearboxes (6-speed auto, or the 6-speed manual derived from the MX-5), and is a full $6,500 cheaper than the outgoing model.

Improvements to the chassis have given the RX-8 an excellent mix of track aggression and road manners as the 1300cc rotary howls away or purrs gently, depending on the angle of the throttle.

We’ll have a full review of the RX-8 in a few weeks when we’ve had a chance to drive it on the road.

In the interim, our sister publication NZ Performance Car features the RX-8 in its latest magazine, in the shops now.

Mazda makes leap in fuel economy

September 16th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda has independently developed an idling stop system, called the Smart Idle Stop System (SISS), which improves fuel economy by about ten percent (in Japan’s 10-15 mode tests*).

The SISS uses direct injection technology to achieve an excellent engine restart, ensuring drivers do not experience any discomfort with the new system.  Mazda plans to begin progressively introducing this core environmental technology to the marketplace in 2009.

Andrew Clearwater, managing director Mazda New Zealand says the Smart Idle Stop System will be an important addition to Mazda’s vehicles.  “Mazda is focussed on improving fuel efficiency across our vehicle line up.  The new smart idling stop system will benefit motorists in busy urban areas where vehicles frequently stop at traffic lights or in heavy traffic.”

Idling stop systems save fuel by shutting down the engine automatically when the car is stationary, and restarts it when the driver resumes driving.

Conventional idling stop systems restart a vehicle’s engine with an electric motor using exactly the same process as when the engine is started normally. Mazda’s SISS, on the other hand, restarts the engine through combustion.  Mazda’s system initiates engine restart by injecting fuel directly into the cylinder while the engine is stopped, and igniting it to generate downward piston force.

In order to restart the engine by combustion, the pistons must be stopped at exactly the correct position to create the right balance of air volume in each cylinder. The Smart Idle Stop System provides precise control over the piston positions during engine shutdown to accomplish this.  The SISS indexes each cylinder and initiates fuel injection before the engine begins to rotate.  This enables the engine to be restarted in just 0.35 seconds for vehicles with an automatic transmission, roughly half the time of a conventional electric motor idling stop system.

In addition to saving fuel, Mazda’s Smart Idle Stop System ensures that the engine will restart quickly and with exactly the same timing every time.  Drivers will feel no delay when resuming their drive, which means they can enjoy a comfortable and stress-free ride.

* The 10-15 mode test is the Japanese standard for emission certification and fuel economy for light duty vehicles.  It consists of two separate drive cycles.  The 10-mode drive cycle is a low speed drive cycle test, while the 15-mode is a higher speed assessment.

Kia ora! Mazda Kiyora concept

September 5th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

mazda-kiyora-concept-fq

Mazda Kiyora (and we’re assuming it’s said like kia ora), is a lightweight, next generation, urban compact concept car, will be revealed at the 2008 Paris International Motor Show in October.

Mazda Kiyora (meaning “clean and pure” in Japanese) represents the harmony between driving pleasure and environmental and safety features aspired to in Mazda’s long-term technology development vision, “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom.”

The concept of Kiyora (which we’re assuming helped the designers to imagine a city car cutting cleanly through an urban landscape, with water as the design theme. Kiyora’s aerodynamic Nagare design and next-generation four-cylinder direct-injection engine contribute to excellent fuel economy and low CO2 emissions.

The new Mazda Kiyora concept car is based on an all-new platform designed to minimise weight and maximise safety and driving pleasure. According to Mazda it also features an interior design and new functions that support a youthful lifestyle – slouching and listening to an iPod (another assumption on our part).

oining the Mazda Kiyora concept car on Mazda’s stand at the Paris show, the Mazda MX-5 facelift will make its world debut together with the Mazda6 equipped with Mazda’s newly developed MZR-CD 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine, and the Mazda2 powered by a MZ-CD 1.6-litre diesel.

Mazda Kazamai concept revealed in Moscow

August 27th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

mazda-kazamai-fq

Designed with the Russian compact SUV market in mind, Kazamai gives a glimpse at where Mazda is heading with a possible future compact crossover.

In the first six months of 2008 more new cars were sold in Russia than any other European country making it Europe’s largest car market.

One of the country’s biggest markets is the sports utility vehicle (SUV) segment, representing 16 percent of the total sales volume in 2007. Between 2004 and 2007, the segment became 10 times larger and this growth is expected to continue over the mid-term in Russia. Mazda’s mid-sized sports crossover SUV, the CX-7, has been on the market for less than a year in Russia and has already found over 7,900 customers — easily Mazda’s largest market for the CX-7 in Europe.

Now, the Mazda Kazamai concept car addresses the growing popularity of SUVs in Russia and gives a strong hint at where Mazda might be going with a compact crossover SUV. Small, lightweight with dynamic styling, low-consumption, and a next-generation Mazda powertrain, it is meant to appeal to young, upwardly-mobile Russians with a strong sense of style and urban lifestyle demands.

Mazda Kazamai means ‘swirling crosswinds’ in Japanese, and was chosen to express the powerful yet nimble character of this stylish and compact crossover. Kazamai is dynamic and athletic looking on the outside and displays an evolved Nagare ‘flow’ design. Unlike previous concept cars, Mazda Kazamai’s styling represents powerful natural movements that are emotionally expressed through three-dimensional motifs stretching over the whole body, representing a fusion of design and functionality.

Mazda Kazamai is an impressive combination of packaging requirements and design aesthetics. With a width of 1,930mm and a length of 4,520mm, it is slightly larger than the current Mazda3, with room for SUV comfort and functionality on the inside. Yet, because it is only 1,500mm high, has a flat roofline and very short rear overhangs, it also has a sporty coupe look with the promise of driving fun.

The innovative body design features flared fenders that emphasise SUV-like strength and a cabin befitting a sports car. The wedge-shaped profile was designed to evoke the image of a sleek arrow cutting through a mighty wind. In particular, the body design between the front wheel arches and the roof pillars is intended to express the agility and dynamism of wind gusting along the side of the vehicle. The panel lines on the sides represent swift and elegant crosswinds, further accentuating the dynamic and stylish body design. The bonnet itself is lower in the centre than at the sides, which emphasises the car’s powerful front fenders that accommodate large, 22-inch diameter wheels with 265/45 R22 tyres.

The alloy wheel design continues the crosswinds motif with each spoke carefully twisted and larger at the perimeter than in the centre, providing a strong sense of movement. The five-point Mazda grille is integrated into the body to create a clean and light image which, together with the flared front lower sides, contributes to excellent aerodynamic characteristics. The aerodynamics are further improved by making the air intakes as small as possible. The side sill panels and rear combination light covers also help to control the wind flow and reduce drag even further.

Mazda Kazamai is not only a pure expression of speed and power, it also accommodates up to four passengers with compact SUV comfort and functionality. It was designed to fulfil many driver and vehicle interfaces so as to support the driver in enjoying safe and stress-free driving, with a well considered man/machine relationship, good visibility and an easy to operate cockpit. This is one of Mazda’s important areas of the Sustainable Zoom-Zoom plan.

The ideal powertrain match for the Mazda Kazamai concept would be the next-generation 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol engine, which Mazda engineers are currently developing. This engine delivers a balance of sporty driving — especially in a compact car like the Kazamai — with good environmental performance. Mazda Kazamai will feature a DISI engine based on the current Mazda CX-7’s engine, with advanced technologies to minimise energy loss and vastly improved thermal efficiency. Mazda’s next generation 2.0-litre DISI petrol engine also has combustion control technology and variable valve control that deliver strong torque throughout the rev-range for excellent engine response as well as superior fuel economy. A next-generation catalyst also ensures superior emissions performance.

This engine is coupled to a lightweight, next-generation compact six-speed automatic transmission that is highly responsive and delivers the direct feel of a manual transmission, and with four-wheel drive for superior traction. In combination with Kazamai’s next-generation aerodynamics and its lightweight body outlined above, this powertrain would deliver an estimated 30 percent improvement in fuel consumption and emissions (versus the current MZR 2.0-litre petrol) — without compromising driving pleasure.

Revised Mazda RX-8 in New Zealand

August 14th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

mazda-rx-8-fq

Mazda New Zealand has announced the arrival of the 2009 model year RX-8 which features refinements to the drivetrain, chassis and new automatic and manual transmissions.

Mazda engineers strove to enhance the driving enjoyment that’s at the heart of the RX-8 experience by refining the RENESIS engine, whose naturally aspirated, free-revving operation up to 9,000 rpm realises exhilarating performance.

The engine sits low and well back in the engine bay in a configuration Mazda calls, advanced front-midship layout. This means that the new RX-8 maintains the original’s ideal 50:50 weight distribution, placing weight evenly over all four wheels and ensuring exceptional stability.

The chassis itself has been further strengthened to bolster rigidity and give the engine and suspension a tauter platform. This highly rigid body and modified suspension enables sharp and linear vehicle response to steering inputs, and delivers the handling of a genuine sports car as well as the high-grade ride comfort expected of a refined four-seater.

Two new transmissions, a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed electronic activematic have been developed for the RX-8 based off the transmissions available for the MX-5 — another Mazda front-engine, rear-drive sports car. Some internal changes and alterations to the gear ratios were made so that the new transmissions would work cohesively with the high-revving characteristics of the RX-8’s RENESIS rotary engine.

The 6-speed activematic is a new electronically-controlled transmission — which delivers smooth and linear acceleration at all engine speeds.  It also incorporates the newly-developed Direct Mode. This allows the driver, while the car is in “Drive” to instantaneously select the optimal gear for the driving circumstances without first having to switch to manual mode.  The driver can quickly change down a gear via the steering wheel mounted shift switches to decelerate using the engine brake when driving downhill, or they may wish to change gears to accelerate for an overtaking manoeuvre. After this has been accomplished the car will revert back to normal automatic “Drive” mode.

In the current atmosphere of spiralling petrol prices, Mazda’s engineers chose not to increase the RENESIS rotary engine’s peak power figure, but instead focused on improving the low- to mid-range engine response and torque delivery.  The power output for the manual remains unchanged at 170 kW @ 8200 rpm, while the automatic increases to 158 kW @ 7500 rpm (up 17 kW) and torque of 211 Nm @ 5500 rpm for both transmissions. The result is an RX-8 that is more responsive at lower revs, and is equally happy to explore the stratospheric reaches of its 9000 rpm redline.

RX-8 Recommended Retail Pricing:

Recommended Retail Price
(including GST, excluding ORC)

2009 RX-8 COUPE 6MT
$55,395

2009 RX-8 COUPE 6SP.EAT
$55,395