February 21st, 2012 by Darren Cottingham
Fuel economy wasn’t a strong point in the outgoing Mazda3, something that’s been rectified in the new model. In fact, it’s a gigantic 25% more efficient than the previous version. That was a little on the thirsty side, so the changes to the 2-litre, 113kW motor, and the bits that are driven by it, are welcome.
The engine has been completely redesigned. Reductions in friction and weight, modifications to the cooling system to reduce resistance, better fuel atomization in the injectors, electrically operated sequential valve timing (S-TV) – these are the things that people that belong to car clubs talk about while standing around the open engine bay. But most of voluminous amount of private buyers of the Mazda3 (because it is the second-best selling compact car behind the Corolla) will want to simply spend less time queuing to pay for fuel, and subsequently ‘up-sizing’ their purchase with chocolate bars that are two for the price of one. The very fact that the Mazda requires fewer trips to the gas station could influence the Continue reading “Mazda3 GSE Skyactiv 2011 Review” »
January 20th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham
We tested Mazda’s new BT-50 a few weeks ago, but in its lesser GSX guise. This week we’ve had the luxury Limited version which adds leather and reversing sensors.
It was interesting to have a second bite at the Mazda as often your perceptions change over time. I’m not a huge fan of utes – I don’t even own a pair of wellies – but the Mazda feels so car-like that you start to appreciate the benefits of having that extra height in traffic, among other things. It’s a big beast (200mm longer than the previous model) – not really designed for manoeuverability – but with the reversing sensors it’s way more palatable in the city. And that’s where this ute probably will live. Tradespeople aren’t going to worry about leather interiors; this is going to be bought by someone who wants to tow a boat or horse float (it’ll tow 3350kg on a braked trailer), while all their nautical or equestrian accessories can be accommodated in the tray.
For this new BT-50 Mazda has taken the corporate nose and grafted it onto a commercial vehicle. Porsche attempted this, putting the 911 nose onto the Cayenne (which has been beaten with the ugly stick). Mitsubishi has done it putting the Lancer Evo X nose onto the Outlander (which looks purposeful with its chiseled handsomeness). Has the corporate Mazda face transplant worked for the BT-50? Kind of. From some angles it does look a bit awkward, but it’s also striking. Awkwardness is a trait of many a car design from the wrong angle – Peugeots and Renaults are notorious for this. I like the BT-50 better the second time round though. It’s growing on me. Continue reading “Mazda BT-50 4WD Double Cab Limited 2012 Review” »
December 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Mazda’s passenger car grin has been transplanted across to its commercial ute brethren to standardize the corporate family look. I had the great fortune to get out of the latest Ford Ranger XLT and into the Mazda BT-50. The BT-50 is based on the Ranger so it’s no surprise that much of the switchgear is the same, you get the same 6-speed gearbox, and you’ll enjoy almost all the features that the Ford has (including its off-road capabilities).
For a full overview of the Ranger, head off here (opens in a new window), and carry on reading for the BT-50. If you’ve driven a previous BT-50, the new one is a large jump forwards. Unlike the Hilux, which usually only makes incremental improvements, the Ford Ranger platform has provided the new BT-50 with a solid base.
Most utes on the market look like a block with the corners chiseled off, so it’s refreshing to see that manufacturers like Mazda will have a go at producing something different. Fortunately it didn’t end up like the Ssangyong Actyon at the front, but the looks still push boundaries and may polarize people.
The exterior has good fit and finish, and the GSX model does look sharper than the GLX which sits beneath it in the range. Our test car had an aftermarket canopy and towbar fitted. The GSX model gains 17-inch alloys, chrome door handles and wing mirrors, side steps in aluminium finish, and front fog lamps.
Storage is excellent. The tub is deep (513mm), long (1549mm) and wide (1560mm). Continue reading “Mazda BT-50 GSX 4×4 Double Cab 2012 Review” »
November 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Big things are happening at Mazda and according to recent reports the Japanese carmaker’s product range is about to get a major overhaul with the introduction of four redesigned models by 2014.
For starters the redesigned CX-5 will be released, but the big launch is the all-new Mazda6 which is due to go on sale late next year. Previewed by the Takeri concept (pictured), the production model is expected to blend sleek styling with a range of fuel efficient engines.
After the 6, Mazda will apparently introduce redesigned versions of the Mazda3, MX-5 and CX-9 in 2013. All the new models will use Skyactiv technologies and ride on lightweight platforms.
October 26th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Mazda has released the first images of its Takeri concept which is widely regarded as the precursor to the new Mazda6.
The Takeri will be officially revealed at the upcoming 42nd Tokyo Motor Show in November. Much of the striking mid-size sedan’s styling should be carried over to the next-gen Mazda6 which is expected to go on sale in the first half of 2013,
Like all recent Mazda models, the sleek Takeri adopts the company’s new “KODO – Soul of Motion” design language.
The Takeri has a very attractive design, with many styling cues borrowed directly from the earlier Shinari sports sedan study. One of the key differences is the roof with the Takeri concept receiving a longer more practical coupe-like roof line. The face has also been softened with a new grille, bonnet and larger headlights.
Little is known about the Takeri’s powerplant but Mazda says it will use a Skyactive D diesel engine with stop/start technology and Mazda’s first kinetic energy recovery system. Continue reading “Mazda Takeri concept revealed as preview to next Mazda6” »
October 10th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Rotary fans worldwide took the news hard that Mazda was killing off its RX-8 without word of a successor – but now there is a small silver lining.
Mazda has just announced that it is releasing a final special edition of its RX-8 which could be the final rotary production cars ever built. Named the RX-8 Spirit R, this very collectable special edition will be limited to just 1,000 units, with sales in the Japanese domestic market only.
The Spirit R nameplate is familiar being also used for the final edition of the RX-7 and the RX-8 version will be sold in two variants – a six-speed manual version based on the RS model and the other with a six-speed auto based on the Type E model.
After it launches the Spirit R and the auto-only Type G will be the only RX-8 models on sale in Japan with production ending fully on June 12th, 2012.
Naturally, the Spirit R receives some special touches like an exclusive Recaro bucket seats and bronze 19-inch alloy wheels. Special equipment includes a sport suspension set-up, larger brakes with red calipers, new front headlights and Spirit R badges. Continue reading “Mazda releases end of line RX-8 Spirit R final edition” »
August 23rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Mazda has ended the manufacture of its RX-8 sports car and subsequently finished mass production of the rotary engine. While the news may come as a shock to rotary fans it may not be the end of the road for the hard-spinning motor.
Unofficial reports are stating that the final RX-8 rolled off the production line last month and the remaining stock should be sold by the end of this year.
The RX-8’s demise into extinction didn’t happen suddenly and has been on the cards since Mazda stopped offering the car in Europe last year. The RX-8 couldn’t make the grade with the stricter EU emission standards and was sent packing. Over in the States, Mazda sold just 1,134 of the models last year and 2011 has been even slower.
It’s a tough end for a car that was coveted and admired when it launched back in 2003. The best sales year for the RX-8 was 2004 when it sold 23,690 units. It’s hung on as the last in the long line of rotary-powered sports machines that started back in 1971 with the RX-2, continued through the years with the successful RX-7, which lasted for three generations, and ultimately ended with the sharp-handling RX-8. Continue reading “Mazda ends production of RX-8 sports car” »
August 11th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Mazda has keenly championed the rotary engine since it was originally used in the 1967 Mazda Cosmo but now the future of this iconic motor is uncertain.
The Wankel rotary has powered numerous Mazdas over the years, including the RX-2, RX-3, RX-7 and finally the RX-8. Mazda even sold a rotary-powered ute between 1974 and 1977. But in 2011 the automotive landscape is much different and Mazda big wigs are currently in discussions about where to go next with the unique powerplant.
While the engine hasn’t been officially axed altogether, current economic conditions have forced Mazda to re-evaluate several programs and the rotary engine is one of the things that could be dropped. For now, the company has halted development of the engine and will focus on new SKYACTIV technologies.
Mazda still believes in the advantages of rotary power including its light weight and fewer moving parts but its weaknesses are more apparent than ever. The rotary engine doesn’t burn as clean as a piston engine, it consumes more oil and is very thirsty for petrol. In these times of emission regulations and minimal fuel usage – the rotary just doesn’t fit in. Continue reading “Mazda’s rotary engine program on death row” »