Mazda’s rotary engine program on death row

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” »

Mazda reveals new CX-5 crossover ahead of Frankfurt debut

August 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda has just revealed its all-new 2012 Mazda CX-5 compact crossover ahead of its world debut at the upcoming2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.

The new crossover is based on the Minagi concept vehicle, which was revealed earlier this year, and is the first new model to use the ‘Kodo’ design language.

The CX-5 styling includes a new prominent corporate face with a five-point grille and touches of chrome trim. The word ‘Kodo’ means soul of motion in Japanese and there is plenty of dynamic flair to the CX-5’s shape. It also hints at the design of the next generation of Mazda’s hatchbacks and sedan models.

The CX-5 will also be the first model to feature Mazda’s new SKYACTIV green technologies which includes gasoline and diesel engines, manual and automatic transmissions and lightweight construction methods.

The engine range for the European-spec CX-5 will include the new SkyActiv-G 2.0 petrol engine and also the SkyActiv-D 2.2 diesel engine in two power outputs. The diesel models will push their power through a front-wheel-drive layout and a SkyActiv-MT manual transmission. Continue reading “Mazda reveals new CX-5 crossover ahead of Frankfurt debut” »

Mazda Australia offering local accessories on new BT-50

July 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda Australia has been busy making sure its upcoming 2012 BT-50 ute will have plenty of optional accessories to toughen it up when it goes on sale later this year.

To make sure these accessories were suitable for down under conditions they have been locally designed and built. The 2012 BT-50’s chief designer Ryo Yanagisawa worked in with a group of the firm’s top-selling Australian dealers to design the accessories. Available kit will include two fully ADR compliant bull bar options, a sports bar, a nudge bar and side steps. Continue reading “Mazda Australia offering local accessories on new BT-50” »

Mazda Europe builds special edition ‘Karai’ MX-5

July 6th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda knows the current generation MX-5 is a tidy piece of kit and what better way to prove it than with another special edition. Mazda’s European division has handled the mods on this latest limited MX-5 naming its creation the ‘Karai’ which apparently means ‘sharp’ in Japanese.

The Karai is based on the MX-5 Roadster coupe, meaning it’s equipped with a retractable hardtop. Its defining paint work is a lime-green hue named “Metal Green Metallic” on the body and a gloss black finish for the metal top, exterior mirrors, and various trim. Packing out the wheel guards are 17-inch multispoke alloy wheels cloaked in low profile performance rubber.

In the Karai cabin there’s a pair of black leather Recaro sport seats, aluminum pedals and leather steering wheel with white stitching also feature. Mazda has painted all the interior trim pieces that are usually finished in silver, with a gloss black. Continue reading “Mazda Europe builds special edition ‘Karai’ MX-5” »

Mazda2 gets mild facelift and new SkyActiv engine

June 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Mazda Demio is big in Japan, and while we know it as the Mazda2 it does alright here in NZ as well. To keep things going strong the 2 has just received a minor facelift and one of Mazda’s new eco-friendly motors – a direct injection 1.3-litre SkyActiv gasoline engine.

While the updates are only for the Japanese domestic market at this stage, they show some serious intent from Mazda to lower its fuel figures. With a compression ratio of 14.0:1 and an advanced start/stop system that requires less fuel to re-initiate the combustion cycle, the 1300cc four-cylinder is set to be one of the most frugal mills around. Apparently the SkyActiv equipped Mazda2 can achieve fuel consumption as low as 4.0l/100km on the JC08 combined evaluation cycle. Continue reading “Mazda2 gets mild facelift and new SkyActiv engine” »

Mazda releases fresh images of new BT-50 ute

June 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda has just dropped a couple of images of it’s upcoming BT-50 Freestyle ute. The Freestyle is an extended-cab version of the standard BT-50, offering a smaller cabin and a slightly larger deck than its double cab stablemate. To get crew into the back the BT-50’s cab features two reverse-hinge half-doors in addition to the two standard front doors. There is a pilarless design to make things a whole lot easier for those attempting to squeeze in the rear seat.

Mazda’s new design language has been used extensively on the exterior of the BT-50, but it retains traditional cab proportions giving it a good balance. Like the Ford Ranger, which uses the same chassis, the BT-50 was designed in Australia. It will be exported to numerous countries including NZ with first deliveries expected later this year. Continue reading “Mazda releases fresh images of new BT-50 ute” »

Mazda builds milestone 3 millionth Mazda3

June 1st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

After exactly seven years and ten months, Mazda has reached an important milestone in the production of its popular Mazda3 small car.

Recently, at Mazda’s Hofu Plant in Yamaguchi, Japan, the three-millionth 3 rolled down the assembly line ready for transporting. The smiling-faced Mazda3 has been a success story for the Japanese carmaker and has proved the fastest-selling vehicle in Mazda’s current range. Global sales have been huge with over 1.1 million units have been sold in North America alone.

In addition to the Hofu plant, the Mazda3 is also built at the Changan Ford Mazda Automobile (CFMA) plant in Nanjing, China, and AutoAlliance in Thailand.

Next for the Mazda3 is a switch a new SkyActiv-powered engine shortly.

Click here to read a Car and SUV review of the Mazda3.

New Mazda RX-9 could use Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain

May 26th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda’s next rotary powered machine is often the subject of rumour and speculation with claims that the RX-Series of vehicles may end with the RX-8. But fresh reports are suggesting that there will be an RX-9 and what’s more, it will use a hybrid drivetrain borrowed from Toyota.

These latest rumours have some weight behind them because last year an agreement was signed between Mazda and Toyota that would have the Zoom-Zoom company licensing the same hybrid tech that powers the Prius. Back then, Mazda announced that its first hybrid vehicle would reach the market in 2013. But nobody really thought it would come in the form of an RX-9.

Naturally a rotary engine will still spin under the vehicle’s bonnet, but it will likely take on a low-powered form with the hybrid system adding extra grunt. Doesn’t sound so flash right? Well not when you consider the rotary motor’s traditional design flaws of weak torque at low rpm, leaky seals and high fuel consumption. If the borrowed hybrid system can solve these issues it may be what saves the rotary engine from production car extinction. Continue reading “New Mazda RX-9 could use Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain” »