323 GTX of Al Durham

The original Mazda 323 was a reliable entry level car. When the GTX came out, it had four wheel drive, an electronic gear lock for low traction, and a turbocharger that made 50 more HP than stock 323. Remember, there were no WRX or similar cars at the time. The GTX cost nearly twice as much as a stock 323 and only 1200 were ever imported.

Now, what could be more fun? Take the mild mannered 1600 cc 323 GTX with the coefficient of drag of a parachute, install a full cage, programmable fuel injection, variable cam timing, and water injection and make a rally car. No, wait, I’ve got it, let’ take the same car install a turbo the size of Texas, put 3 fire systems and parachute then run almost 180 mph on the Bonneville salt flats.

This is truly an interesting car. Remember when the AWD Audi rally cars were going so fast they plowed into crowds on weekends? They were 3 liter turbos. FIA did something about it and briefly changed the displacement of rally cars to 1.5 liters for about 3 years before settling of the current 2.0 liter AWD rally cars.

Mazda saw an opportunity for the 323 GTX in the 1.5 liter formula. A racing shop in Greenville, SC built 6, 323 GTX rally cars. I don’t know the rally result for this car but somewhere along the line the one I own was converted to a Land Speed Record Car. The car came with a full interior but also a full cage. The driver’s seat became a Kirkey. A very large turbo for high end performance was added (unbelievable turbo lag—unbelievable acceleration when it finally hit). The variable valve timing set up plus water injection and 25 lbs. of boost produced 450-500 hp out of 1500 ccs. The smaller 1488 cc engine ran 154 mph and the larger 1600 ran 177.301 at Bonneville. The car also set records in the Eastern Timing association until it swallowed a valve.

I bought the car several years ago with the idea of making it a rainy day road race track event car. I ran it at VIR raceway. One thing I forgot is that rally driver only uses brakes to slew the car sideways and to stop at the end of the session. Road racers need more even in the rain. Coming on to the straight, there were faster cars behind me as I had the foot to the floor trying to build boost. I would always get the move over flag but would try to wave it off because when boost finally hit it almost lit up four racing slicks – funny but not too drivable. I was also the only road race car on the track with a parachute on the back bumper.

It was apparent, that the T4 turbo had to go, the car has the race motor with a knife edge billet crank, I beam connecting rods, variable valve timing, racing pads, lowered suspension with coil overs and a 944 turbo that spins up fast to 8500. There is a programmable fuel system for the fuel injection. Ironically by lowering the boost to 15 lbs., reducing the advance and making a smaller turbo has produced an ultimate street sleeper(full cage gives some away) with a Dr Jeckyll and Mr.Hyde personality. The car has full liquid filled auto-meter gauges, variable boost, full fire system, water injection and is completely street legal. The car still has its official SCTA number for Bonneville and tech stickers.

The car has lots of personality, a real good sound above 7k rpm and lots of boost and traction. Probably the best use of the car is making Mazda’s reputation against turbo civics or WRX’s. The car is drivable as is but it could be put back to high boost but this time with no turbo lag. For right now, it attracts lookers and interest wherever it goes and people love the idea of seeing a Bonneville record car first hand. I probably won’t do rainy day road racing but is drivable enough to do it if I want. Right now it is fun to have one of the most unique low production Mazda’s in the world (only 8k miles).

Al Durham, owner
Roanoke, VA.

2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata

With the upgrades to the Mazda6 midsize sedan and Mazda3 compact hatchback and sedan complete, the time has come for an 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miataupdate to Mazda’s popular and iconic roadster, the MX-5 Miata. The reveal of the next-generation car is expected to come soon, according to a report from Britain’s Autocar, with the debut believed to be at next month’s Chicago Auto Show.

Mazda initially targeted an ambitious curb weight goal of 2200 lb for the next-generation car, but indications are the final curb weight will come in closer to 2400 lb, a weight savings of between 150-200 lb compared to today’s car. Due to affordability considerations, the body is believed to be primarily steel, but with strategic lightening of specific components to keep weight low.

Initial reports suggested a turbocharged engine for the new Miata, but it now looks like naturally-aspirated I-4 engines of 1.5 liters and 2.0 liters will be offered in various markets. As with past Miata models, the focus will be more on balanced performance and andling rather than outright power.

The next-generation Mazda Miata is expected to be slightly longer than today’s car for a roomier interior, as well as making space for the Skyactiv engines, which have a long and bulky exhaust manifold design to enable their high fuel efficiency. Efficiency gains are expected to be in the neighborhood of 30 percent, which would translate to roughly 27 mpg city and 36-37 mpg highway, over the current Miata’s 21/28 figures.

The popular power retractable hardtop will continue on the new model, with a new design that preserves more trunk space. A canvas-top will still be offered.

Mazda RX-7 to Return in 2016?

Only thing needed now is an official production green light.

It appears as if the on -again, off-again rumors regarding a potential new Mazda RX-7 have been settled. According to a new report from Autocar, Mazda will bring back its legendary rotary-powered two-seater in 2016. Supposedly, it’ll be powered by an all-new 250 horsepower rotary and will be based on a version of the same platform that’ll underpin the upcoming new MX-5, itself due to arrive in 2015.

At the moment, the new RX-7’s exterior design hasn’t been fully locked down, but the man in charge of its styling, Ikuo Maeda, has a special bond to the RX-7: his father was head of Mazda design in the 1970s when the original RX-7 debuted. Autocar is also claiming the new rotary will be a naturally aspirated unit, and won’t incorporate any use of hybrid assistance. More than likely, the new engine will have a 1.2-liter capacity. Mazda execs have still yet to officially green light producti2016 RX-7on, as the business case numbers are still being worked out. Fortunately, rotary development and exterior/interior design is still ongoing

Mazda CX-5 Gets More Power

by Doug Gutrie

Last summer, I drove the 2013 Mazda CX-5 and thought, huh?

The compact crossover SUV was well regarded, a finalist for the Detroit North American International Auto Show Truck of the Year award. Yet the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine was weak and buzzy-sounding.

Since then, Mazda upgraded the 2014 CX-5 lineup by adding 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engines with 29 more horsepower and 35 more pound-feet of torque to its upper level Touring and Grand Touring models.

CX-5 New Engine The new engine is more than more powerful. It is plush because the increased power peaks at lower rpm than the small engine in the Sport model. It’s working harder while making it feel and sound like less effort. More moxie and a meatier sound from the engine bay completes the CX-5 package while sacrificing little fuel economy in front-wheel-drive or optional all-wheel-drive configuration.

Introduced last year, the CX-5’s price was competitive, its handling nimble, fuel economy class-leading and looks unique. Despite the small engine that forces its transmission to do a lot of shifting to deliver power on demand, CX-5’s abundant good qualities made it an instant success.

CX-5 replaced CX-7, a vehicle dating back to Mazda’s Ford partnership. It had shared underlying architecture with the boxy previous-generation Ford Escape. Three years after the breakup, CX-5 is completely new. It immediately became Mazda’s second best-selling vehicle, behind the compact Mazda3 sedans and hatchbacks.

CX-5 is roomy. There’s more legroom up front than in Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, and VW Tiguan. Rear legroom is better than CR-V, Sportage, and Tucson. It equals Escape and Tiguan. Only CR-V has more total passenger space.

The CX-5’s long hood and forward-leaning looks come from Mazda’s latest interpretation of “Kodo Soul of Motion” design. There’s a lot in common here with the new Mazda6 sedan. The badge-shaped grille is a better direction than the grilles that looked like smiley faces.

From the inside, the windshield and hood feel low, giving good visibility forward. Not so good aft, through the small lift gate window. The seating position is high and commanding; the suspension is taut and handles well in the curves.

The practicality of the crossover is the big cargo space that gets bigger with the back seats folded down.

The interior of CX-5 isn’t as nice as Mazda6. It has similar styling with leather-like soft touch materials on the dash and doors, shiny piano-black horizontal accents give the cockpit a wide appearance. But where there is metal trim in the sedan, there is hard, undisguised plastic in the crossover. The area surrounding the shifter looks cheap.

Mazda has simple three-knob environmental controls and a nice, deep padded pocket at the base of the center stack for cell phones. The seats appear to be the same comfortable, well-bolstered units in Mazda6.

The 5.8-inch color touch screen, standard with a backup camera in the Touring model and above, is surrounded by redundant buttons. It’s a good thing, because the optional TomTom navigation system is slow and requires you to follow rigid complicated voice commands.

The most popular model has been the Touring edition, which comes standard with Bluetooth hands-free connectivity for wireless phones and music players. It’s a $400 option on the base Sport model.

All models come with push button start. Options include blind zone alert and something Mazda calls the Smart City Brake System that can detect a pedestrian or a dog ahead and bring the CX-5 to a halt when operating at less than 15 mph.

Grand Touring gets leather and 19-inch alloy wheels that look sporty, but add more tire rumble to the already noisier than average cabin. The ride was more comfortable and quieter with the higher profile tires on 17-inch alloy wheels that are stock on all other models. The competitors in this class come with standard steel wheels and hub caps.

The nimble character of a $30,340 Grand Touring model I tested had me pushing the gas pedal hard and often. So the 25.9 mpg performance I saw in a mix of city, highway and twisty country roads wasn’t bad. The vehicle is EPA rated for 25 mpg city, 32 highway and a combined average of 27 mpg.

If you are looking for maximum mpg, a front-wheel-drive Sport model with a standard, five-speed manual transmission gets an EPA rated 26 mpg city and 35 highway. That’s the best fuel efficiency in the compact SUV class. With all-wheel-drive fuel economy drops to 25 city and 31 highway.

The larger engine is a better match for the bulk of the SUV, earning a rating of 25 mpg city and 32 highway with front-wheel-drive. The all-wheel-drive version gets 24 city and 30 highway. Mazda claims CX-5 can travel 400 miles on a tank of gas.

With the end of the Ford partnership, Mazda had to find new ways to build its cars, launching a holistic engineering approach. Mazda hasn’t gone the hybrid or turbocharger route. Skyactiv technology improves every element of vehicle performance through attention to detail and maximizing system potential. The cars are lighter and their structures stiffer. The engines have higher compression ratios coaxing power and efficiency from lighter weight engines.

Diesel engines in the Mazda6 are next, the first offered by a Japanese manufacturer in North American. How long it will take before the high mileage diesels find their way into Mazda’s SUVs depends on how well they sell in the midsize sedan.

For those of you who are keeping track, yes, I said the same 2.5-liter engine failed to put any real zoom into the new Mazda6 when introduced in March. But that’s a larger, midsize car. The new diesel engine option with its powerful torque is on the way soon for Mazda6.

Adding the 2.5-liter engine put CX-5 on par with the power of its well regarded competitors. It now matches CR-V’s horsepower and is stronger than any competitor’s engines that aren’t turbocharged.

Sometimes you have to be patient before you can, as the Mazda ads say, Zoom Zoom.

The New Mazda MX-5

New Mazda MX-5

Even Mazda, which has enjoyed such incredible success in the roadster market, isn’t resting on its laurels. The new fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 is currently being developed in conjunction with Alfa Romeo so that the two companies can share the initial investment and boost profits. The project will also spawn a new Alfa Spider – but there are no signs that the MX-5’s winning formula will be diluted in any way.

As our exclusive image shows, the styling falls into line with the current Mazda model range thanks to the large, shield-shaped grille and hawk-eye headlights, as well as bodywork that swoops tightly around the rear-wheel-drive chassis beneath.

Besides the basic steel structure, the Mazda MX-5 won’t share very much with the Alfa. The new MX-5 will be powered by unique 1.3 and 1.5-litre turbocharged engines with just enough performance to let the chassis’ talents shine through. With high-strength steels used throughout, engineers are aiming to strip at least 100kg from the current MX-5’s kerbweight, with 1,050kg the target figure. And a sub-£20,000 price tag will help the car retain its reputation for value.

Nascar Betting Picks

NASCAR betting picks

At one stage this season Jimmie Johnson looked an absolute certainty to win NASCAR 2013, with a huge points lead over everyone else, but those who chose to put their outright bets on Johnson may be sweating just a little bit, as recent weeks have seen his lead get whittled down. It should be acknowledged at this point that he is still the bookies top pick to win the 2013 Sprint Cup Series, at 8/5, it is just that he is no longer quite the sure thing that he seemed to be a little while back. So who are the other drivers that could be worth a punt?

Well although the standings show him as being well off the pace – eighty two points behind to be exact – Matt Kenseth is down as one of the favourites with the bookmakers at 6/1; so why is that? Well he has won four events this season, which is actually more than Johnson has managed, which suggests that he just needs to secure better placings in the events he doesn’t win. Kyle Busch, with two race wins and one hundred and ten points deficit is another possible (if more risky) pick at 8/1, while Carl Edwards at 15/1 should also not be forgotten. He hasn’t had the wins, but is just thirty two points behind Johnson in the standings. What this goes to show is just how much there is to take into account with NASCAR betting, and why some motor racing fans play online casino games like Motor Slot Speed Machine instead.

With games like this five reel, twenty pay line slot game you don’t have to worry about points versus race wins and other issues – you just put your money in and you’re away. There is also the little matter of the $50,000 jackpot, which is a sum few are likely to win by betting on NASCAR 2013, while the game involving a race between three motor bikes of different colours that you trigger when you score 1000 points is one of the major bonuses of this game for racing fans. The video graphics bring this scenario to life vividly, and let you feel like a racer as well as a gambler, which is surely what every motor sports fan secretly dreams of.

2014 Mazda CX-5

by James Raia of The Weekly Driver

2014 Mazda CX-5
2014 Mazda CX-5

Now in the second year of its debut generation, the 2014 The Mazda CX-5 continues the carmaker’s third-time’s-the-charm good fortune. The compact, five-passenger sport utility vehicle follows the not-to-successful Tribute and CX-7, and it’s proven popular in a crowded segment with its modern look, clean styling, efficiency and economy.

The Mazda CX-5 debuted as a 2013 model at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2012. For 2014, there are only minor tweaks to the car’s first year with increased horsepower in the top-two trims, a collision warning system option and advanced radio technology services.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

One week after test-driving a high-tech, high-priced, ill-conceived BMW crossover, the 2014 Mazda CX-5 arrived just in time. I test drove the Grand Touring model, the most detailed of the three available trims.

The CX-5 was a refreshing change because unlike the BMW, Mazda offers a lot of features, comfort and logically smart technology without crossing into the land of accoutrement overload and high-tech wizardry.

In addition to a health offering of standard features, the CX-5 Grand Touring edition features 19-inch wheels, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats and leather upholstery.

2014 Mazda CX-5
2014 Mazda CX-5

For 2014, the CX-5 Touring and Grand Touring models have power boosts with their 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engines now producing 184 horsepower, 29 horsepower more than last year. My weekly driver was front-wheel drive, but there’s also an all-wheel drive option. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with the front-wheel drive calculated at 25 mpg (city), 32 mpg (highway) and 27 mpg (combined). The AWD option is EPA estimated at 24/30/26 mpg.

Likes:

Comfortable, well-positioned, spacious front and rear seating.

Pull-down rear window screen should be the standard for other manufacturers. It’s sturdy, latches and unlatches with precision and remains out of the way against the window yet hide the cargo well.

Strong gas mileage averages for SUV segment.

Simple, intuitive dials, controls, buttons, etc.

With the rear seats folded, there’s 65 cubic feet of cargo space, which is more than sufficient for lots of stuff.

Good overall driver visibility.

Dislikes:

The Tom-Tom navigation system isn’t bad. But it’s far from the best in industry, with lack of screen clarity quite noticeable.

The sound system is only adequate.

Mazda and Fiat to Co-produce New Roadster

Alpha MX-5 Concept Fiat and Mazda have officially inked the deal which will retool the MX-5 (aka the Miata) as Alfa Romeo’s next open-top sports car, expected to hit showrooms in 2015. The agreement was first mooted back in May 2012, and will see the as-yet-unnamed Alfa Romeo droptop eventually go on sale globally; meanwhile, Mazda will also offer its own version of the car, the next-gen MX-5.

Although the two cars “will be based on the architecture” of Mazda’s new Miata model, there will be some key differences in what ends up on sale. Beyond the differentiated styling – unconfirmed, though we’re hoping Alfa Romeo doesn’t stray too far from the delectable 2010 concept by Pininfarina, shown here, although we wouldn’t argue with a convertible version of last year’s Disco Volante concept either – each marque will slot in their choice of engine.

Both versions will be produced at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant in Japan, and feature rear-wheel drive and two seats. For the Japanese firm, it’s a chance to squeeze as much value as possible out of its new design and manufacturing investment, vital if the compact droptop is to be financially viable.

Alpha MX-5 Concept For Fiat, meanwhile, Alfa Romeo has been struggling for some time, and the deal means producing “a modern interpretation of the classic Alfa Romeo roadster” needn’t be quite so impractical. Initial plans to reintroduce the brand to the US market later this year have been delayed, however, with the Alfa Romeo 4C now not expected to debut in North America until sometime in 2014.

The 2015 Mazda MX-5 Sports Car Revealed

By Tim Pollard (artist’s impressions by Christian Schulte)

2015 MX-5  The Fiat Group’s revelation in May 2012 that it would co-develop the next Alfa Romeo Spider alongside the Mazda MX-5 got everyone at CAR, and its digital audience, salivating. Today we can bring you the latest artist’s impressions showing how this Japanese-Italian fusion could look on the road.

This is perhaps one of the most exciting prospects for years: a project marrying Italian design flair and Alfa Romeo style with the Japanese reliability and back-to-basics MX-5 purity. It could be a marriage made in heaven – we’ll know for sure when we see this duo in 2015.

This is an artist’s impression, remember. None of us yet know exactly how the sports car twins will look, but the rules of jigsaw identification mean we can have a good stab at how they’ll turn out.

The MX-5 hasn’t deviated much over the years from the original 1989 recipe, and our sources at Mazda suggest the same evolutionary style will continue, pepped up with the latest ‘Kodo’ design language seen on the new 6 family car. That means a pointier front face and exaggerated Mazda grille, but the essential footprint of the 2015 MX-5 won’t change much.

This suggests the Alfa Spider won’t be wildly different. The hard points of the architecture will be shared, but each brand will be allowed the freedom to graft on their own grilles and corporate jewellery. Let’s hope they’re allowed more flexibility than the identikit Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ twins.

While details remain scant on the Spider/MX-5 project, a few nuggets have been announced already in the formal statement.

‘The study calls for both Mazda and Fiat to develop two differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic and brand-specific light weight, roadsters featuring rear-wheel drive,’ the companies have confirmed. ‘The Mazda and Alfa Romeo variants will each be powered by specific proprietary engines unique to each brand.

‘The project assumption is that both vehicles will be manufactured at Mazda’s Hiroshima, Japan, plant with production for Alfa Romeo envisaged starting in 2015.’

Engines in the new Alfa Romeo Spider

Each brand will stick with their own engines, and CAR understands the Spider will use the 1750TBi four-cylinder, tuned to produce more than 200bhp and mated to a seven-speed twin-clutch TCT transmission.

CAR understands the Italian roadster will stick with a folding soft-top, rather than use the MX-5’s folding hard top. Fingers crossed the rear-wheel drive purity of the Mazda comes as standard on the Alfa Romeo Spider.