RX Vision Concept

from InsiderCarNews.com by Justin Cupler

When Mazda revealed its RX Vision concept, jaws across the automotive world dropped. This stunning concept embodied everything enthusiasts wanted in a new RX, sans the “concept” suffix. Recently, Mazda rightfully brought home the “Most Beautiful Concept of the Year” at the 31st Festival Automobile International for its work on this sleek, Wankel-powered rig. Though the RX was an undeniable beauty, this award was by no means automatic. It had to stand up to the likes of the Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6, the Peugeot Fractal, and Porsche Mission E—none of which were deficient in terms of sexiness. In the end, however, the RX Vision designers’ tweaks to the KODO language were enough to bag the prize.

RX Vision ConceptThe big question now is whether Mazda will actually use this design in producing a road-going RX. In recent years, Mazda has been pretty good about avoiding useless concept cars, but this one seems more of a stretch for several reasons.

The first issue is that the RX will have to come with some form of rotary engine, or fans will revolt. This requirement leads me to the next issue; the rotary, while capable of big horsepower numbers from a small displacement, has always had three flaws: fuel economy, oil consumption, and lack of low-rev torque.

Since their inception, the Rotary engines were little more than a novelty, as they allowed for a nearly limitless rev band that gave engineers more freedom to extract serious horsepower from them. Horsepower is great for bragging rights, but torque has always been one of the Wankel’s shortcomings—the RX-8’s embarrassing 152 pound-feet at 5,500 is a key example of this—and the only way Mazda saw to fix it was turbo, which compounded the oil- and fuel-consumption issues (sigh). And don’t even get me started on the apex seal issues…

According to Mazda, it is continuing to tweak the Skyactiv-R rotary in the concept to make it friendly for production. Rumors have swirled about this engine, ranging from it being a generator for an electric powertrain to it being a diesel engine. Recently, the rumormill has rested on a report that Mazda engineers want the rotary to stand alone—no electrification—and run on diesel. Instead, the last reports claim that Mazda is looking to go back to turbocharging for the new engine.

Stay tuned for details.

RX Vision Concept

KENAUTOJAPAN.com

Hi, to all the members of Mazda club USA, my name is Kenichi Obara from Japan. I am a new member to your club thank for accepting me, I am the owner of the Ken auto Mazda Miata high performance parts company.  I specialize in high performance parts for Mazda Miata. I am excited to be a part of the Mazda Miata club and looking forward to meeting other members, if there is any question you would like to ask about your Mazda Miata please feel free to ask. You can contact me at my Facebook or through my website.

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010036200483

http://www.kenautojapan.com

The Future is the Past

I encourage all Mazda owners to read the article, “The Future is the Past”, an interview with President & CEO of Mazda, Masimichi Kogai, in the January, 2016 issue of Forbes magazine. President Kogai reinforces Mazda’s commitment to building cars that are fun to drive and not to get swept up in pursuing driverless cars. I just hope that includes maintaining Mazda owners, like myself, access to manual transmissions in Mazda cars, which are rapidly disappearing in other auto makes’ model offerings.

William Sirull

Questions and Answers

Q: I just purchased an ‘88 Mazda 323 and installed the engine and transmission, I cannot get a spark to the plugs.. I have checked all the fuses, I have every thing hooked up. What are some things to check?

Rob

A: It could be no current to the ECU, the crank position sensor not working, or a bad coil pack. Each can be checked individual if you bring them in to auto shop.

Bob

Q: How much will it cost me to replace the suspension on Mazda CX-9? My car stopped on the road last night, had to tow it with a flat bed truck as the wheel was kind of coming out of the car, no chance to push it to the curb even, car wouldn’t move back or forth. Wondering how much the damage will be.

Maria

A: You didn’t list what broke. Let us guess. A lower ball joint broke and the CV-joint pulled out of the side of the transmission. If the lower A-frame didn’t tear loose from the flimsy sub-frame it will still cost a small fortune to fix. Hopefully the car is sitting at a Mazda door step so they can check the suspension pieces.

Roy

Q: The latest water trick from my 2006 MX-5 Miata is whenever it rains the trunk fills with water. I have identified the leak. It’s coming from where the rear of the soft top where it seals to the rear of the car. There seems to be a wiper seal that will divert the water to the interior drains behind the seats. Is there a adjustment I can make?

Morris

A: If you are talking about the black plastic trim that’s visible from outside the car, that’s not a seal. It’s there to keep the edge of the sheet metal and soft top from chafing against each other. There’s a rain rail / gutter system that collects whatever gets around the back edge of the soft top. The rain rail then carries any water to the drains you have already discovered. It’s a pain to get to the rain rail, as it requires removing the “parcel shelf” where the top sits when it is lowered. My guess is the rain rail is cracked.

Davis

2016 Mazda CX-3 Crossover

by Ken Chester, Motor News Corporation

2016 MazdaCX-3 crossover The 2016 Mazda CX-3 was recently introduced. The new compact crossover SUV is the fifth model in Mazda’s line-up of new-generation vehicles that feature the full range of SKYACTIV Technology and KODO — Soul of Motion design. The CX-3 offers all the essentials people look for in a vehicle; a design of overwhelming quality and style, packaging developed solely with the customer’s ease-of-use in mind, and the responsive driving feel that Mazda strives for in every model.

In the all-new CX-3, the essence of KODO — the expression of life within a vehicle — has been evolved to produce a sharper form with an enhanced sense of speed. In the interior, meticulous attention to detail regarding the materials used has created a cabin environment of impressive sophistication and quality. In terms of driving performance, the CX-3 adopts the full suite of SKYACTIV technologies, carefully crafted to match human sensibilities. This realizes driving pleasure with faithful response as well as excellent environmental and safety performance.

The CX-3 is equipped with the automaker’s SKYACTIV-G 2.0L four-cylinder gasoline engine mated to the SKYACTIV-DRIVE six-speed automatic transmission. Providing drivers with a direct feel similar to that of a manual transmission, the automatic transmission also achieves excellent fuel economy while delivering smooth and powerful acceleration.

The available new-generation AWD system employs an active torque control coupling to achieve excellent drivability and vehicle stability. It employs a front wheel slip warning detection system, which employs sensor signals to accurately monitor the driver’s intentions and constantly changing driving conditions. In addition, the CX-3 uses a newly developed power take-off and rear differential that is compact and light in weight.

The CX-3 features the SKYACTIV-CHASSIS, which delivers reassuring confidence and greatly enhanced levels of comfort thanks to thoroughly revised suspension and steering functions. The chassis employs a lightweight torsion beam rear suspension system that features highly efficient packaging and dampers in the front and rear that optimize friction characteristics to deliver linear handling characteristics and ride comfort with a feeling of high quality. The steering system allows light and agile handling in the city, but feels stable on winding country roads and the highway.

The CX-3 also adopts Mazda’s SKYACTIV-BODY, which achieves high levels of performance in three seemingly contradictory areas: collision safety, weight reduction, and rigidity. Realizing an even simpler layout of Mazda’s SKYACTIV-BODY architecture, it combines effective positioning of high-tensile steel and optimized cross section shapes to produce a lightweight body that features high rigidity and a sense of positive damping characteristics.

Inside the passenger cabin, the interior gives a high-quality and sophisticated feel coordinated with the exterior design. Keen attention was paid to every detail, including the cohesiveness of the spatial designs and the quality of materials used.

The surrounding character line and relatively high beltline, along with the deeply sculpted three-dimensional form of the door trim, create a comforting sense of snugness and openness for the front seat space.

All information displays and control systems are positioned in accordance with a driver-oriented design based on Mazda’s Heads-up Cockpit concept. The soft material that covers the meter hood features a stitch-like finish on its front edge, producing an atmosphere of maturity.

Each individual part has been refined to provide the interior with a polished, high-quality feel. Examples includes the dark red accent color used on the door trim armrests and floor console kneepads, and the sharp form of the inner door handle bezels which look as if they were sculpted from solid metal. Fine piping carefully added where the different coordinated seat materials meet, such as the Parchment leather and off-black Lux Suede offering, produces a sophisticated environment.

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.

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